Product Managers need to consider how adding Location Intelligence can improve the contextual accuracy of marketing, sales, and customer service apps and platforms.
Marketers need to look at how they can capitalize on smartphones’ prolific amounts of location data for improving advertising, buying, and service experiences for customers.
R&D, Operations, and Executive Management lead all other departments in their adoption and use of Location Intelligence this year.
Enterprises favor cloud-based Location Intelligence deployments in 2020, with on-premise deployments also seeing new sales this year.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Dresner Advisory Services’2020 Location Intelligence Market Study, their 7th annual report that examines enterprise end-users’ requirements and features including geocoding support, location intelligence visualization, analytics capabilities, and third-party GIS integration. The study is noteworthy for its depth of insights into industry adoption of Location Intelligence and how user requirements drive industry capabilities. Dresner Advisory Services defines location intelligence as a form of Business Intelligence (BI), where the dominant dimension used for analysis is location or geography. Most typically, though not exclusively, analyses are conducted by viewing data points overlaid onto an interactive map interface.
“When we began covering Location Intelligence in 2014, we saw the potential for the topic to gain mainstream interest,” said Howard Dresner, founder, and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. “With the growth in visualization and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), incorporating maps and location into business analyses have become increasingly important to many organizations.” Please see page 11 for a description of the methodology and page 13 for an overview of study demographics. Wisdom of Crowds® research is based on data collected on usage and deployment trends, products, and vendors.
Key insights from the study that provides an excellent background on the current state of location intelligence in 2020 include the following:
R&D, Operations, and Executive Management lead all enterprise areas in adoption with Location Intelligence being considered critical to their ongoing operations. The majority of Marketing & Sales leaders see Location Intelligence as very important to their ongoing operations. The following graphic compares how important Location Intelligence is to each of the seven departments included in the survey:
90% of Government organizations consider Location Intelligence to be critical or very important to their ongoing operations. Healthcare providers have the second-highest number of organizations who rate Location Intelligence as critical. The study found that mean importance levels are similar across Business Services, Financial Services, Manufacturing, and Consumer Services organizations and decline further among Technology, Retail/Wholesale, and Higher Education segments.
Data visualization/mapping dominates all other Location Intelligence use cases in 2020, with over 70% of organizations considering it critical or very important to accomplishing their goals. The study found that the majority of other use cases haven’t achieved the broad adoption data visualization & mapping has. Despite the lower levels of criticality assigned to the nine other use cases, they each show the potential to streamline essential marketing, sales, and operational areas of an enterprise. Site planning/site selection, geomarketing, territory management/optimization, and logistics optimization make up a tier of secondary interest that taken together streamlines supply chains while making an organization easier to buy from. The Dresner research team also defines the third tier of use cases led by fleet routing and citizen services, followed by IoT & smart cities, indoor mapping, and real estate investment/pricing analysis. Despite IoT being over-promoted by vendors, just over 50% of enterprises say the technology is not important to them at this time. The following graphic compares Location Intelligence use cases by the level of criticality as defined by responding organizations:
R&D leads all departments in data visualization/mapping adoption, reflecting the high level of importance this use case has across entire enterprises as well. Additional departments and functional areas relying on data visualization/mapping include Operations, Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC), and Executive Management. Geomarketing is seeing the most significant adoption in Marketing & Sales. Operations lead all other functional areas in the adoption of logistics optimization and fleet routing use cases. Dresner’s research team found that R&D’s interest in Location Intelligence, which varies across use cases, may reflect the use of packaged applications as well as select custom development.
Map-based visualization, dashboard inclusion of maps, and drill-down navigation through map interfaces are the three highest priority features enterprises look for today. These three features are considered very important to between 64% to 67% of leaders interviewed. Layered visualizations, multi-layer support, and custom region definition are the next most important features. The following graphic provides an overview of prioritized Location intelligence visualization features.
Executive Management, BICC, and Operations have the highest level of interest in map-based visualizations that further accelerate the adoption of Location Intelligence across enterprises. Executive Management also leads all others in their interest in dashboard inclusion of maps and custom map support. Executive Management’s increasing adoption of multiple Location intelligence use cases is a catalyst driving greater enterprise-wide adoption. R&D’s prioritizing the layering of visualizations on top of maps, offline mapping and animation of data on maps are leading indicators of these use cases attaining greater enterprise adoption in future years.
Four of the top ten Location Intelligence features are considered very important/critical to enterprises, reflecting a maturing market. The most popular (counting, quantifying, or grouping) is critical or very important to 46% of organizations and at least important to nearly 70%. Another indicator of how quickly Location Intelligence is maturing in enterprises is the advanced nature of analytics features being relied on today. Predicting trends and volatility, detecting clusters and outliers, and measuring distances reflect how multiple departments in enterprises are collaborating using Location Intelligence to achieve their shared goals.
Government dominates the use of data visualization/mapping with a strong interest in site planning/site selection, citizen services, fleet routing, and territory management. Business Services are most interested in using Location Intelligence for Indoor Mapping and IoT & Smart Cities. Geomarketing is the most adopted feature in Higher Education, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Retail/Wholesale. Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale lead all other industries in their adoption of Logistics Optimization. The following graphic provides insights into Location Intelligence use case by industry:
Executive Management and Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) most prioritize Location Intelligence applications that have built-in or native geocoding. Enterprises are looking at how built-in or native geocoding can scale across their Location Intelligence use cases and broader BI strategy with Executive Management taking the lead on achieving this goal. Automated geocoding support and street-level geocoding support are also a high priority to Executive Management. Marketing/Sales lead all other departments in their interest in geofencing/reverse geofencing, indicating enterprises are beginning to use these geocoding features to achieve greater accuracy in their marketing and selling strategies. It’s interesting to note that geofencing/reverse geofencing has progressed from R&D in previous studies to Marketing/Sales putting the highest priority on it today. Dresner’s research team interprets the shift to customer-facing strategies being an indicator of broader enterprise adoption for geofencing/reverse geofencing.
61% of organizations say Google integration is essential to their Location Intelligence strategies. Google continues to dominate organizations’ roadmaps as the integration of choice for adding more GIS data to Location Intelligence strategies. ESRI is the second choice with 45% of organizations naming it as an integration requirement. Database extensions (30%) are the next most cited, followed by OpenStreetMap (20%). All other choices are requirements at less than 20% of organizations.
Going into 2020, manufacturers are at an inflection point in their adoption of analytics and business intelligence (BI). Analytics applications and tools make it possible for them to gain greater insights from the massive amount of data they produce every day. And with manufacturing leading all industries on the planet when it comes to the amount of data generated from operations daily, the potential to improve shop floor productivity has never been more within reach for those adopting analytics and BI applications.
Analytics and BI Are High Priorities In Manufacturing Today
Increasing the yield rates and quality levels for each shop floor, machine and work center is a high priority for manufacturers today. Add to that the pressure to stay flexible and take on configure-to-order and engineer-to-order special products fulfilled through short-notice production runs and the need for more insight into how each phase of production can be improved. Gartner’s latest survey of heavy manufacturing CIOs in the 2019 CIO Agenda: Heavy Manufacturing, Industry Insights, by Dr. Marc Halpern. October 15, 2018 (Gartner subscription required) reflects the reality all manufacturers are dealing with today. I believe they’re in a tough situation with customers wanting short-notice production time while supply chains often needing to be redesigned to reduce or eliminate tariffs. They’re turning to analytics to gain the insights they need to take on these challenges and more. The graphic below is from Gartner’s latest survey of heavy manufacturing CIOs, it indicates the technology areas where heavy manufacturing CIOs’ organizations will be spending the largest amount of new or additional funding in 2019 as well as the technology areas where their organizations will be reducing funding by the highest amount in 2019 compared with 2018:
Knowing Which Problems To Solve With Analytics
Manufacturers getting the most value from analytics start with a solid business case first, based on a known problem they’ve been trying to solve either in their supply chains, production or fulfillment operations. The manufacturers I’ve worked with focus on how to get more orders produced in less time while gaining greater visibility across production operations. They’re all under pressure to stay in compliance with customers and regulatory reporting; in many cases needing to ship product quality data with each order and host over 60 to 70 audits a year from customers in their plants. Analytics is becoming popular because it automates the drudgery of reporting that would otherwise take IT team’s days or weeks to do manually.
As one CIO put it as we walked his shop floor, “we’re using analytics to do the heavy data crunching when we’re hosting customer audits so we can put our quality engineers to work raising the bar of product excellence instead of having them run reports for a week.” As we walked the shop floor he explained how dashboards are tailored to each role in manufacturing, and the flat-screen monitors provide real-time data on how five key areas of performance are doing. Like many other CIOs facing the challenge of improving production efficiency and quality, he’s relying on the five core metrics below in the initial roll-out of analytics across manufacturing operations, finance, accounting, supply chain management, procurement, and service:
Manufacturing Cycle Time – One of the most popular metrics in manufacturing, Cycle Time quantifies the amount of elapsed time from when an order is placed until the product is manufactured and entered into finished goods inventory. Cycle times vary by segment of the manufacturing industry, size of manufacturing operation, global location and relative stability of supply chains supporting operations. Real-time integration, applying Six Sigma to know process bottlenecks, and re-engineering systems to be more customer-focused improve this metrics’ performance. Cycle Time is a predictor of the future of manufacturing as this metric captures improvement made across systems and processes immediately.
Supplier Inbound Quality Levels – Measuring the dimensions of how effective a given supplier is at consistently meeting a high level of product quality and on-time delivery is valuable in orchestrating a stable supply chain. Inbound quality levels often vary from one shipment to the next, so it’s helpful to have Statistical Process Control (SPC) charts that quantify and show the trends of quality levels over time. Nearly all manufacturers are relying on Six Sigma programs to troubleshoot specific trouble spots and problem areas of suppliers who may have wide variations in product quality in a given period. This metric is often used for ranking which suppliers are the most valuable to a factory and production network as well.
Production Yield Rates By Product, Process, and Plant Location – Yield rates reflect how efficient a machine or entire process is in transforming raw materials into finished products. Manufacturers rely on automated and manually-based approaches to capture this metric, with the latest generation of industrial machinery capable of producing its yield rate levels over time. Process-related manufacturers rely on this metric to manage every production run they do. Microprocessors, semiconductors, and integrated circuit manufacturers are continually monitoring yield rates to determine how they are progressing against plans and goals. Greater real-time integration, improved quality management systems, and greater supply chain quality and compliance all have a positive impact on yield rates. It’s one of the key measures of production yield as it reflects how well-orchestrated entire production processes are.
Perfect Order Performance – Perfect order performance measures how effective a manufacturer is at delivering complete, accurate, damage-free orders to customers on time. The equation that defines the perfect order Index (POI) or perfect order performance is the (Percent of orders delivered on time) * (Percent of orders complete) * (Percent of orders damage free) * (Percent of orders with accurate documentation) * 100. The majority of manufacturers are attaining a perfect order performance level of 90% or higher, according to The American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC). The more complex the product lines, configuration options, including build-to-order, configure-to-order, and engineer-to-order, the more challenging it is to attain a high, perfect order level. Greater analytics and insights gained from real-time integration and monitoring help complex manufacturers attained higher perfect order levels over time.
Return Material Authorization (RMA) Rate as % Of Manufacturing – The purpose of this metric is to define the percentage of products shipped to customers that are returned due to defective parts or not otherwise meeting their requirements. RMAs are a good leading indicator of potential quality problems. RMAs are also a good measure of how well integrated PLM, ERP and CRM systems, resulting in fewer product errors.
The manufacturers succeeding with analytics start with a compelling business case, one that has an immediate impact on the operations of their organizations. CIOs are prioritizing analytics and BI to gain greater insights and visibility across every phase of manufacturing. They’re also adopting analytics and BI to reduce the reporting drudgery their engineering, IT, and manufacturing teams are faced with as part of regular customer audits. There are also a core set of metrics manufacturers rely on to manage their business, and the five mentioned here are where many begin.
Improving revenues using BI is now the most popular objective enterprises are pursuing in 2019.
Reporting, dashboards, data integration, advanced visualization, and end-user self-service are the most strategic BI initiatives underway in enterprises today.
Operations, Executive Management, Finance, and Sales are primarily driving Business Intelligence (BI) adoption throughout enterprises today.
Tech companies’ Operations & Sales teams are the most effective at driving BI adoption across industries surveyed, with Advertising driving BI adoption across Marketing.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Dresner Advisory Associates’ 10th edition of its popular Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study. The study is noteworthy in that it provides insights into how enterprises are expanding their adoption of Business Intelligence (BI) from centralized strategies to tactical ones that seek to improve daily operations. The Dresner research teams’ broad assessment of the BI market makes this report unique, including their use visualizations that provide a strategic view of market trends. The study is based on interviews with respondents from the firms’ research community of over 5,000 organizations as well as vendors’ customers and qualified crowdsourced respondents recruited over social media. Please see pages 13 – 16 for the methodology.
Key insights from the study include the following:
Operations, Executive Management, Finance, and Sales are primarily driving Business Intelligence (BI) adoption throughout their enterprises today. More than half of the enterprises surveyed see these four departments as the primary initiators or drivers of BI initiatives. Over the last seven years, Operations departments have most increased their influence over BI adoption, more than any other department included in the current and previous survey. Marketing and Strategic Planning are also the most likely to be sponsoring BI pilots and looking for new ways to introduce BI applications and platforms into use daily.
Tech companies’ Operations & Sales teams are the most effective at driving BI adoption across industries surveyed, with Advertising driving BI adoption across Marketing. Retail/Wholesale and Tech companies’ sales leadership is primarily driving BI adoption in their respective industries. It’s not surprising to see the leading influencer among Healthcare respondents is resource-intensive HR. The study found that Executive Management is most likely to drive business intelligence in consulting practices most often.
Reporting, dashboards, data integration, advanced visualization, and end-user self-service are the most strategic BI initiatives underway in enterprises today. Second-tier initiatives include data discovery, data warehousing, data discovery, data mining/advanced algorithms, and data storytelling. Comparing the last four years of survey data, Dresner’s research team found reporting retains all-time high scores as the top priority, and data storytelling, governance, and data catalog hold momentum. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
BI software providers most commonly rely on executive-level personas to design their applications and add new features. Dresner’s research team found all vertical industries except Business Services target business executives first in their product design and messaging. Given the customer-centric nature of advertising and consulting services business models, it is understandable why the primary focus BI vendors rely on in selling to them are customer personas. The following graphic compares targeted users for BI by industry.
Improving revenues using BI is now the most popular objective in 2019, despite BI initially being positioned as a solution for compliance and risk management. Executive Management, Marketing/Sales, and Operations are driving the focus on improving revenues this year. Nearly 50% of enterprises now expect BI to deliver better decision making, making the areas of reporting, and dashboards must-have features. Interestingly, enterprises aren’t looking to BI as much for improving operational efficiencies and cost reductions or competitive advantages. Over the last 12 to 18 months, more tech manufacturing companies have initiated new business models that require their operations teams to support a shift from products to services revenues. An example of this shift is the introduction of smart, connected products that provide real-time data that serves as the foundation for future services strategies. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
In aggregate, BI is achieving its highest levels of adoption in R&D, Executive Management, and Operations departments today. The growing complexity of products and business models in tech companies, increasing reliance on analytics and BI in retail/wholesale to streamline supply chains and improve buying experiences are contributing factors to the increasing levels of BI adoption in these three departments. The following graphic compares BI’s level of adoption by function today.
Enterprises with the largest BI budgets this year are investing more heavily into dashboards, reporting, and data integration. Conversely, those with smaller budgets are placing a higher priority on open source-based big data projects, end-user data preparation, collaborative support for group-based decision-making, and enterprise planning. The following graphic provides insights into technologies and initiatives strategic to BI at an enterprise level by budget plans.
Marketing/Sales and Operations are using the greatest variety of BI tools today. The survey shows how conversant Operations professionals are with the BI tools in use throughout their departments. Every one of them knows how many and most likely which types of BI tools are deployed in their departments. Across all industries, Research & Development (R&D), Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC), and IT respondents are most likely to report they have multiple tools in use.
The most common request from this blogs’ readers is how to further their careers in analytics, cloud computing, data science, and machine learning. I’ve invited Alyssa Columbus, a Data Scientist at Pacific Life, to share her insights and lessons learned on breaking into the field of data science and launching a career there. The following guest post is authored by her.
Many people are looking to break into data science, from undergraduates to career changers, have asked me how I’ve attained my current data science position at Pacific Life. I’ve referred them to many different resources, including discussions I’ve had on the Dataquest.ioblog and the Scatter Podcast. In the interest of providing job seekers with a comprehensive view of what I’ve learned that works, I’ve put together the five most valuable lessons learned. I’ve written this article to make your data science job hunt easier and as efficient as possible.
Continuously build your statistical literacy and programming skills. Currently, there are 24,697 open Data Scientist positions on LinkedIn in the United States alone. Using data mining techniques to analyze all open positions in the U.S., the following list of the top 10 data science skills was created today. As of April 14, the top 3 most common skills requested in LinkedIn data scientist job postings are Python, R, and SQL, closely followed by Jupyter Notebooks, Unix Shell/Awk, AWS, and Tensorflow. The following graphic provides a prioritized list of the most in-demand data science skills mentioned in LinkedIn job postings today. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier viewing.
Hands-on training is the best way to develop and continually improve statistical and programming skills, especially with the languages and technologies LinkedIn’s job postings prioritize. Getting your hands dirty with a dataset is often much better than reading through abstract concepts and not applying what you’ve learned to real problems. Your applied experience is just as important as your academic experience, and taking statistics, and computer science classes help to translate theoretical concepts into practical results. The toughest thing to learn (and also to teach) about statistical analysis is the intuition for what the big questions to ask of your dataset are. Statistical literacy, or “how” to find the answers to your questions, come with education and practice. Strengthening your intellectual curiosity or insight into asking the right questions comes through experience.
Continually be creating your own, unique portfolio of analytics and machine learning projects. Having a good portfolio is essential to be hired as a data scientist, especially if you don’t come from a quantitative background or have experience in data science before. Think of your portfolio as proof to potential employers that you are capable of excelling in the role of a data scientist with both the passion and skills to do the job. When building your data science portfolio, select and complete projects that qualify you for the data science jobs, you’re the most interested in. Use your portfolio to promote your strengths and innate abilities by sharing projects you’ve completed on your own. Some skills I’d recommend you highlight in your portfolio include:
Your programming language of choice (e.g., Python, R, Julia, etc.).
The ability to interact with databases (e.g., your ability to use SQL).
Visualization of data (static or interactive).
Storytelling with data. This is a critical skill. In essence, can someone with no background in whatever area your project is in look at your project and gain some new understandings from it?
Deployment of an application or API. This can be done with small sample projects (e.g., a REST API for an ML model you trained or a nice Tableau or R Shiny dashboard).
Julia Silge and Amber Thomas both have excellent examples of portfolios that you can be inspired by. Julia’s portfolio is shown below.
Get (or git!) yourself a website. If you want to stand out, along with a portfolio, create and continually build a strong online presence in the form of a website. Be sure to create and continually add to your GitHub and Kaggle profiles to showcase your passion and proficiency in data science. Making your website with GitHub Pages creates a profile for you at the same time, and best of all it’s free to do. A strong online presence will not only help you in applying for jobs, but organizations may also reach out to you with freelance projects, interviews, and other opportunities.
Be confident in your skills and apply for any job you’re interested in, starting with opportunities available in your network. If you don’t meet all of a job’s requirements, apply anyway. You don’t have to know every skill (e.g., programming languages) on a job description, especially if there are more than ten listed. If you’re a great fit for the main requirements of the job’s description, you need to apply. A good general rule is that if you have at least half of the skills requested on a job posting, go for it. When you’re hunting for jobs, it may be tempting to look for work on company websites or tech-specific job boards. I’ve found, as have many others, that these are among the least helpful ways to find work. Instead, contact recruiters specializing in data science and build up your network to break into the field. I recommend looking for a data science job via the following sources, with the most time devoted to recruiters and your network:
Alyssa Columbus is a Data Scientist at Pacific Life and member of the Spring 2018 class of NASA Datanauts. Previously, she was a computational statistics and machine learning researcher at the UC Irvine Department of Epidemiology and has built robust predictive models and applications for a diverse set of industries spanning retail to biologics. Alyssa holds a degree in Applied and Computational Mathematics from the University of California, Irvine and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is a strong proponent of reproducible methods, open source technologies, and diversity in analytics and is the founder of R-Ladies Irvine. You can reach her at her website: alyssacolumbus.com.
Bottom line: Enterprises are attaining double-digit improvements in forecast error rates, demand planning productivity, cost reductions and on-time shipments using machine learning today, revolutionizing supply chain management in the process.
The ten ways that machine learning is revolutionizing supply chain management include:
Machine learning-based algorithms are the foundation of the next generation of logistics technologies, with the most significant gains being made with advanced resource scheduling systems. Machine learning and AI-based techniques are the foundation of a broad spectrum of next-generation logistics and supply chain technologies now under development. The most significant gains are being made where machine learning can contribute to solving complex constraint, cost and delivery problems companies face today. McKinsey predicts machine learning’s most significant contributions will be in providing supply chain operators with more significant insights into how supply chain performance can be improved, anticipating anomalies in logistics costs and performance before they occur. Machine learning is also providing insights into where automation can deliver the most significant scale advantages. Source: McKinsey & Company, Automation in logistics: Big opportunity, bigger uncertainty, April 2019. By Ashutosh Dekhne, Greg Hastings, John Murnane, and Florian Neuhaus
The wide variation in data sets generated from the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, telematics, intelligent transport systems, and traffic data have the potential to deliver the most value to improving supply chains by using machine learning. Applying machine learning algorithms and techniques to improve supply chains starts with data sets that have the greatest variety and variability in them. The most challenging issues supply chains face are often found in optimizing logistics, so materials needed to complete a production run arrive on time. Source: KPMG, Supply Chain Big Data Series Part 1
Machine learning shows the potential to reduce logistics costs by finding patterns in track-and-trace data captured using IoT-enabled sensors, contributing to $6M in annual savings. BCG recently looked at how a decentralized supply chain using track-and-trace applications could improve performance and reduce costs. They found that in a 30-node configuration when blockchain is used to share data in real-time across a supplier network, combined with better analytics insight, cost savings of $6M a year is achievable. Source: Boston Consulting Group, Pairing Blockchain with IoT to Cut Supply Chain Costs, December 18, 2018, by Zia Yusuf, Akash Bhatia, Usama Gill, Maciej Kranz, Michelle Fleury, and Anoop Nannra
Reducing forecast errors up to 50% is achievable using machine learning-based techniques. Lost sales due to products not being available are being reduced up to 65% through the use of machine learning-based planning and optimization techniques. Inventory reductions of 20 to 50% are also being achieved today when machine learning-based supply chain management systems are used. Source: Digital/McKinsey, Smartening up with Artificial Intelligence (AI) – What’s in it for Germany and its Industrial Sector? (PDF, 52 pp., no opt-in).
DHL Research is finding that machine learning enables logistics and supply chain operations to optimize capacity utilization, improve customer experience, reduce risk, and create new business models. DHL’s research team continually tracks and evaluates the impact of emerging technologies on logistics and supply chain performance. They’re also predicting that AI will enable back-office automation, predictive operations, intelligent logistics assets, and new customer experience models. Source: DHL Trend Research, Logistics Trend Radar, Version 2018/2019 (PDF, 55 pp., no opt-in)
Detecting and acting on inconsistent supplier quality levels and deliveries using machine learning-based applications is an area manufacturers are investing in today. Based on conversations with North American-based mid-tier manufacturers, the second most significant growth barrier they’re facing today is suppliers’ lack of consistent quality and delivery performance. The greatest growth barrier is the lack of skilled labor available. Using machine learning and advanced analytics manufacturers can discover quickly who their best and worst suppliers are, and which production centers are most accurate in catching errors. Manufacturers are using dashboards much like the one below for applying machine learning to supplier quality, delivery and consistency challenges. Source: Microsoft, Supplier Quality Analysis sample for Power BI: Take a tour, 2018
Reducing risk and the potential for fraud, while improving the product and process quality based on insights gained from machine learning is forcing inspection’s inflection point across supply chains today. When inspections are automated using mobile technologies and results are uploaded in real-time to a secure cloud-based platform, machine learning algorithms can deliver insights that immediately reduce risks and the potential for fraud. Inspectorio is a machine learning startup to watch in this area. They’re tackling the many problems that a lack of inspection and supply chain visibility creates, focusing on how they can solve them immediately for brands and retailers. The graphic below explains their platform. Source: Forbes, How Machine Learning Improves Manufacturing Inspections, Product Quality & Supply Chain Visibility, January 23, 2019
Machine learning is making rapid gains in end-to-end supply chain visibility possible, providing predictive and prescriptive insights that are helping companies react faster than before. Combining multi-enterprise commerce networks for global trade and supply chain management with AI and machine learning platforms are revolutionizing supply chain end-to-end visibility. One of the early leaders in this area is Infor’s Control Center. Control Center combines data from the Infor GT Nexus Commerce Network, acquired by the company in September 2015, with Infor’s Coleman Artificial Intelligence (AI) Infor chose to name their AI platform after the inspiring physicist and mathematician Katherine Coleman Johnson, whose trail-blazing work helped NASA land on the moon. Be sure to pick up a copy of the book and see the movie Hidden Figures if you haven’t already to appreciate her and many other brilliant women mathematicians’ many contributions to space exploration. ChainLink Research provides an overview of Control Center in their article, How Infor is Helping to Realize Human Potential, and two screens from Control Center are shown below.
Machine learning is proving to be foundational for thwarting privileged credential abuse which is the leading cause of security breaches across global supply chains. By taking a least privilege access approach, organizations can minimize attack surfaces, improve audit and compliance visibility, and reduce risk, complexity, and the costs of operating a modern, hybrid enterprise. CIOs are solving the paradox of privileged credential abuse in their supply chains by knowing that even if a privileged user has entered the right credentials but the request comes in with risky context, then stronger verification is needed to permit access. Zero Trust Privilege is emerging as a proven framework for thwarting privileged credential abuse by verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment. Centrify is a leader in this area, with globally-recognized suppliers including Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and Salesforce being current customers. Source: Forbes, High-Tech’s Greatest Challenge Will Be Securing Supply Chains In 2019, November 28, 2018.
Capitalizing on machine learning to predict preventative maintenance for freight and logistics machinery based on IoT data is improving asset utilization and reducing operating costs. McKinsey found that predictive maintenance enhanced by machine learning allows for better prediction and avoidance of machine failure by combining data from the advanced Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and maintenance logs as well as external sources. Asset productivity increases of up to 20% are possible and overall maintenance costs may be reduced by up to 10%. Source: Digital/McKinsey, Smartening up with Artificial Intelligence (AI) – What’s in it for Germany and its Industrial Sector? (PDF, 52 pp., no opt-in).
Bendoly, E. (2016). Fit, Bias, and Enacted Sensemaking in Data Visualization: Frameworks for Continuous Development in Operations and Supply Chain Management Analytics. Journal Of Business Logistics, 37(1), 6-17.
An all-time high 48% of organizations say cloud BI is either “critical” or “very important” to their operations in 2019.
Marketing & Sales place the greatest importance on cloud BI in 2019.
Small organizations of 100 employees or less are the most enthusiastic, perennial adopters and supporters of cloud BI.
The most preferred cloud BI providers are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
These and other insights are from Dresner Advisory Services’2019 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study. The 8th annual report focuses on end-user deployment trends and attitudes toward cloud computing and business intelligence (BI), defined as the technologies, tools, and solutions that rely on one or more cloud deployment models. What makes the study noteworthy is the depth of focus around the perceived benefits and barriers for cloud BI, the importance of cloud BI, and current and planned usage.
“We began tracking and analyzing the cloud BI market dynamic in 2012 when adoption was nascent. Since that time, deployments of public cloud BI applications are increasing, with organizations citing substantial benefits versus traditional on-premises implementations,” said Howard Dresner, founder, and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. Please see page 10 of the study for specifics on the methodology.
Key insights gained from the report include the following:
An all-time high 48% of organizations say cloud BI is either “critical” or “very important” to their operations in 2019. Organizations have more confidence in cloud BI than ever before, according to the study’s results. 2019 is seeing a sharp upturn in cloud BI’s importance, driven by the trust and credibility organizations have for accessing, analyzing and storing sensitive company data on cloud platforms running BI applications.
Marketing & Sales place the greatest importance on cloud BI in 2019. Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) and IT departments have an above-average interest in cloud BI as well, with their combined critical and very important scores being over 50%. Dresner’s research team found that Operations had the greatest duality of scores, with critical and not important being reported at comparable levels for this functional area. Dresner’s analysis indicates Operations departments often rely on cloud BI to benchmark and improve existing processes while re-engineering legacy process areas.
Small organizations of 100 employees or less are the most enthusiastic, perennial adopters and supporters of cloud BI. As has been the case in previous years’ studies, small organizations are leading all others in adopting cloud BI systems and platforms. Perceived importance declines only slightly in mid-sized organizations (101-1,000 employees) and some large organizations (1,001-5,000 employees), where minimum scores of important offset declines in critical.
The retail/wholesale industry considers cloud BI the most important, followed by technology and advertising industries. Organizations competing in the retail/wholesale industry see the greatest value in adopting cloud BI to gain insights into improving their customer experiences and streamlining supply chains. Technology and advertising industries are industries that also see cloud BI as very important to their operations. Just over 30% of respondents in the education industry see cloud BI as very important.
R&D departments are the most prolific users of cloud BI systems today, followed by Marketing & Sales. The study highlights that R&D leading all other departments in existing cloud BI use reflects broader potential use cases being evaluated in 2019. Marketing & Sales is the next most prolific department using cloud BI systems.
Finance leads all others in their adoption of private cloud BI platforms, rivaling IT in their lack of adoption for public clouds. R&D departments are the next most likely to be relying on private clouds currently. Marketing and Sales are the most likely to take a balanced approach to private and public cloud adoption, equally adopting private and public cloud BI.
Advanced visualization, support for ad-hoc queries, personalized dashboards, and data integration/data quality tools/ETL tools are the four most popular cloud BI requirements in 2019. Dresner’s research team found the lowest-ranked cloud BI feature priorities in 2019 are social media analysis, complex event processing, big data, text analytics, and natural language analytics. This years’ analysis of most and least popular cloud BI requirements closely mirror traditional BI feature requirements.
Marketing and Sales have the greatest interest in several of the most-required features including personalized dashboards, data discovery, data catalog, collaborative support, and natural language analytics. Marketing & Sales also have the highest level of interest in the ability to write to transactional applications. R&D leads interest in ad-hoc query, big data, text analytics, and social media analytics.
The Retail/Wholesale industry leads interest in several features including ad-hoc query, dashboards, data integration, data discovery, production reporting, search interface, data catalog, and ability to write to transactional systems. Technology organizations give the highest score to advanced visualization and end-user self-service. Healthcare respondents prioritize data mining, end-user data blending, and location analytics, the latter likely for asset tracking purposes. In-memory support scores highest with Financial Services respondent organizations.
Marketing & Sales rely on a broader base of third party data connectors to get greater value from their cloud BI systems than their peers. The greater the scale, scope and depth of third-party connectors and integrations, the more valuable marketing and sales data becomes. Relying on connectors for greater insights into sales productivity & performance, social media, online marketing, online data storage, and simple productivity improvements are common in Marketing & Sales. Finance requiring integration to Salesforce reflects the CRM applications’ success transcending customer relationships into advanced accounting and financial reporting.
Subscription models are now the most preferred licensing strategy for cloud BI and have progressed over the last several years due to lower risk, lower entry costs, and lower carrying costs. Dresner’s research team found that subscription license and free trial (including trial and buy, which may also lead to subscription) are the two most preferred licensing strategies by cloud BI customers in 2019. Dresner Advisory Services predicts new engagements will be earned using subscription models, which is now seen as, at a minimum, important to approximately 90% of the base of respondents.
60% of organizations adopting cloud BI rank Amazon Web Services first, and 85% rank AWS first or second. 43% choose Microsoft Azure first and 69% pick Azure first or second. Google Cloud closely trails Azure as the first choice among users but trails more widely after that. IBM Bluemix is the first choice of 12% of organizations responding in 2019.
82% of enterprises are prioritizing analytics and BI as part of their budgets for new technologies and cloud-based services.
54% say AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are also a high investment priority.
50% of enterprises say their stronger focus on metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) company-wide are a major driver of new investment in analytics and BI.
43% plan to both build and buy AI and machine learning applications and platforms.
42% are seeking to improve user experiences by automating discovery of data insights and 26% are using AI to provide user recommendations.
These and many other fascinating insights are from the recent TDWI Best Practices Report, BI and Analytics in the Age of AI and Big Data. An executive summary of the study is available online here. The entire study is available for download here (39 PP., PDF, free, opt-in). The study found that enterprises are placing a high priority on augmenting existing systems and replacing older technologies and data platforms with new cloud-based BI and predictive analytics ones. Transforming Data with Intelligence (TDWI) is a global community of AI, analytics, data science and machine learning professionals interested in staying current in these and more technology areas as part of their professional development. Please see page 3 of the study for specifics regarding the methodology.
Key takeaways from the study include the following:
82% of enterprises are prioritizing analytics and BI applications and platforms as part of their budgets for new technologies and cloud-based services. 78% of enterprises are prioritizing advanced analytics, and 76% data preparation. 54% say AI, machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are also a high investment priority. The following graphic ranks enterprises’ investment priorities for acquiring or subscribing to new technologies and cloud-based services by analytics and BI initiatives or strategies. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
Data warehouse or mart in the cloud (41%), data lake in the cloud (39%) and BI platform in the cloud (38%) are the top three types of technologies enterprises are planning to use. Based on this finding and others in the study, cloud platforms are the new normal in enterprises’ analytics and Bi strategies going into 2019. Cloud data storage (object, file, or block) and data virtualization or federation (both 32%) are the next-most planned for technologies by enterprises when it comes to investing in the analytics and BI initiatives. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
The three most important factors in delivering a positive user experience include good query performance (61%), creating and editing visualizations (60%), and personalizing dashboards and reports (also 60%). The three activities that lead to the least amount of satisfaction are using predictive analytics and forecasting tools (27% dissatisfied), “What if” analysis and deriving new data (25%) and searching across data and reports (24%). Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
82% of enterprises are looking to broaden the base of analytics and BI platforms they rely on for insights and intelligence, not just stay with the solutions they have in place today. Just 18% of enterprises plan to add more instances of existing platforms and systems. Cloud-native platforms (38%), a new analytics platform (35%) and cloud-based data lakes (31%) are the top three system areas enterprises are planning to augment or replace existing BI, analytics, and data warehousing systems in. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
The majority of enterprises plan to both build and buy Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions so that they can customize them to their specific needs. 43% of enterprises surveyed plan to both build and buy AI and ML applications and platforms, a figure higher than any other recent survey on this aspect of enterprise AI adoption. 13% of responding enterprises say they will exclusively build their own AI and ML applications.
Capitalizing on machine learning’s innate strengths of applying algorithms to large volumes of data to find actionable new insights (54%) is what’s most important to the majority of enterprises. 47% of enterprises look to AI and machine learning to improve the accuracy and quality of information. And 42% are configuring AI and machine learning applications and platforms to augment user decision making by giving recommendations. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
30% of tech leaders globally predict blockchain will disrupt their businesses by 2021.
IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics have the greatest potential to digitally transform businesses, making them more customer-centered and efficient.
26% of global tech leaders say e-Commerce apps and platforms will be the most disruptive new business model in their countries by 2021.
IDC predicts worldwide IoT spending will reach $1.1T by 2021.
These and many other insights are from KPMG’s recent research study Tech Disruptors Outpace The Competition. The study can be downloaded here (PDF, 42 pp., no opt-in.). The methodology is based on interviews with 750 global technology industry leaders, 85% of whom are C-level executives. For additional details on the methodology, please see pages 32 and 33 of the study. The study found that the three main benefits of adopting IoT, AI, and robotics include improved management of personal information, increased personal productivity, and improved customer experience through personalized real-time information. Key insights gained from the study include the following:
IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics have the greatest potential to digitally transform businesses, making them more customer-centered and efficient. Tech leaders also see these three core technologies enabling the next indispensable consumer technology and driving the greatest benefit to life, society, and the environment. KPMG’s research team found that tech companies are integrating these three technologies to create growth platforms for new business ventures while digitally transforming existing business processes. Tech leaders in the U.K. (21%), Japan (20%) and the U.S. (16%) lead all other nations in their plans for IoT digitally transforming their businesses by 2021. Please click on the graphic below to expand for easier reading.
30% of tech leaders globally predict blockchain will disrupt their businesses by 2021. 50% of Japanese tech leaders predict that blockchain will digitally transform their industries and companies by 2021, leading all nations included in the survey. IoT processes and the rich, real-time data stream sensors and systems are capable of delivering is predicted by tech leaders to be the primary catalyst that will enable blockchain to digitally transform their businesses. 27% of tech leaders globally expect IoT data and applications combined with blockchain to redefine their companies, supply chains and industries. Identity authentication (24%), automated trading (22%) and contracts (14%) are the 2nd through fourth-most disruptive aspects of blockchain by 2021 according to tech leaders. Please click on the graphic below to expand for easier reading.
26% of global tech leaders say e-Commerce apps and platforms will be the most disruptive new business model in their countries by 2021. 19% see social media platforms creating the majority of new business models, followed autonomous vehicle platforms (14%) and entertainment platforms (11%). KPMG’s analysis includes a ranking of top business models by country, with e-Commerce dominating four of the five regions included in the survey.
50% of tech leaders expect media, transportation, healthcare, and transportation to experience the greatest digital transformation in the next three years. Respondents most mentioned Amazon, Netflix, Alibaba, Uber, Google, and Facebook as examples of companies who will digitally transform their industries by 2021. The following table provides insights into which industries by country will see the greatest digital transformations in the next three years. Entertainment platforms are predicted by tech leaders to have the greatest potential to digitally transform the media industry in the U.S. by 2021.
Tech leaders predict IoT’s greatest potential for adoption by 2021 is in consumer products, education, services, industrial manufacturing, and telecom. AI’s greatest potential to digitally transform business models is in healthcare and industrial manufacturing (both 11%), consumer products, financial, and services (10% each). As would be expected, Robotics’ adoption and contribution to digitally transforming businesses will be most dominant in industrial manufacturing (15%), followed by healthcare (11%) and consumer, financial and services (10%). Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.
71% of enterprises globally predict their investments in data and analytics will accelerate in the next three years and beyond.
57% of enterprises globally have a Chief Data Officer, a leadership role that is pivotal in helping to democratize data and analytics across any organization.
52% of enterprises are leveraging advanced and predictive analytics today to provide greater insights and contextual intelligence into operations.
41% of all enterprises are considering a move to cloud-based analytics in the next year.
Cloud Computing (24%), Big Data (20%), and AI/Machine Learning (18%) are the three technologies predicted to have the greatest impact on analytics over the next five years.
Just 16% of enterprises have enabled at least 75% of their employees to have access to company data and analytics.
These and many other fascinating insights are from MicroStrategy’s latest research study, 2018 Global State of Enterprise Analytics Report. You can download a copy here (PDF, 44 pp., opt-in). The study is based on surveys completed in April 2018 with 500 globally-based enterprise analytics and business intelligence professionals on the state of their organizations’ analytics initiatives across 20 industries. Participants represented organizations with 250 to 20,000 employees worldwide from five nations including Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. For additional details on the methodology, please see the study here. The study’s results underscore how enterprises need to have a unified data strategy that reflects their growth strategies and new business models’ information needs.
Key takeaways from the study include the following:
Driving greater process and cost efficiencies (60%), strategy and change (57%) and monitoring and improving financial performance (52%) are the top three ways enterprises globally are using data and analytics today. The study found that enterprises are also relying on data and analytics to gain greater insights into how current products and services are used (51%), managing risk (50%) and attain customer growth and retention (49%). Across the five nations surveyed, Japan leads the world in the use of data and analytics to drive process and cost efficiencies (65%). UK-based enterprises lead all nations in their use of data and analytics to analyze how current products and services are being used. The report provides graphical comparisons of the five nations’ results.
Cloud Computing, Big Data, and AI/Machine Learning are the three technologies predicted to have the greatest global impact on analytics over the next five years. Japanese enterprises predict cloud computing will have the greatest impact on the future of analytics (28%) across the five nations’ enterprises interviewed. AI/Machine Learning is predicted to have the greatest impact on analytics in the U.K. (26%) globally as is Big Data in Germany (29%). Please see the study for country-specific prioritization of technologies.
52% of enterprises are leveraging advanced and predictive analytics today to provide greater insights and contextual intelligence into operations. Additional leverage areas include distribution of analytics via e-mail and collaboration tools (49%), analytics embedded in other apps including Salesforce (44%) and mobile productivity apps (39%). Japanese enterprises lead the world in their adoption of advanced and predictive analytics (60%). German enterprises lead the world in the adoption of analytics for collaboration via e-mail and more real-time data and knowledge-sharing methods (50%).
59% of enterprises are using Big Data Analytics, leading all categories of intelligence applications. Enterprise reporting (47%), data discovery (47%), mobile productivity apps (44%) and embedded apps (42%) are the top five intelligence applications in use globally by enterprises today. Big Data’s dominance in the survey results can be attributed to the top five industries in the sampling frame is among the most prolific in data generation and use. Manufacturing (15%) is the most data-prolific industry on the planet. Additional industries that generate massive amounts of data dominate the survey’s demographics including software technology-based businesses (14%), banking (13%), retail (11%), and financial services/business services (6%).
27% of global enterprises prioritize security over any other factor when evaluating a new analytics vendor. The three core attributes of a scalable, comprehensive platform, ease of use, and a vendor’s products having an excellent reputation are all essential. Enterprises based in four of the five nations also prioritize security as the most critical success factor they evaluate potential analytics vendors to do business with. Enterprise scalability is most important in the U.S., with 26% of enterprises interviewed saying this is the most important priority in evaluating a new analytics vendor.
Data privacy and security concerns (49%) is the most formidable barrier enterprises face in gaining more effective use of their data and analytics. Enterprises from four of the five nations say data privacy and security are the most significant barrier they face in getting more value from analytics. In Japan, the greatest barrier is access limited to data across the organization (40%).
Globally 41% of all enterprises are considering a move to the cloud in the next year. 64% of U.S.-based enterprises are considering moving to a cloud-based analytics platform or solution in the next year. The U.S. leads enterprises from all five nations in planned cloud-based analytics cloud adoption as the graphic below illustrates.
Executive Management, Operations, and Sales are the three primary roles driving Business Intelligence (BI) adoption in 2018.
Dashboards, reporting, end-user self-service, advanced visualization, and data warehousing are the top five most important technologies and initiatives strategic to BI in 2018.
Small organizations with up to 100 employees have the highest rate of BI penetration or adoption in 2018.
Organizations successful with analytics and BI apps define success in business results, while unsuccessful organizations concentrate on adoption rate first.
50% of vendors offer perpetual on-premises licensing in 2018, a notable decline over 2017. The number of vendors offering subscription licensing continues to grow for both on-premises and public cloud models.
Fewer than 15% of respondent organizations have a Chief Data Officer, and only about 10% have a Chief Analytics Officer today.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Dresner Advisory Service’s2018 Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study. In its ninth annual edition, the study provides a broad assessment of the business intelligence (BI) market and a comprehensive look at key user trends, attitudes, and intentions. The latest edition of the study adds Information Technology (IT) analytics, sales planning, and GDPR, bringing the total to 36 topics under study.
“The Wisdom of Crowds BI Market Study is the cornerstone of our annual research agenda, providing the most in-depth and data-rich portrait of the state of the BI market,” said Howard Dresner, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. “Drawn from the first-person perspective of users throughout all industries, geographies, and organization sizes, who are involved in varying aspects of BI projects, our report provides a unique look at the drivers of and success with BI.” Survey respondents include IT (28%), followed by Executive Management (22%), and Finance (19%). Sales/Marketing (8%) and the Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) (7%). Please see page 15 of the study for specifics on the methodology.
Key takeaways from the study include the following:
Executive Management, Operations, and Sales are the three primary roles driving Business Intelligence (BI) adoption in 2018. Executive management teams are taking more of an active ownership role in BI initiatives in 2018, as this group replaced Operations as the leading department driving BI adoption this year. The study found that the greatest percentage change in functional areas driving BI adoption includes Human Resources (7.3%), Marketing (5.9%), BICC (5.1%) and Sales (5%).
Making better decisions, improving operational efficiencies, growing revenues and increased competitive advantage are the top four BI objectives organizations have today. Additional goals include enhancing customer service and attaining greater degrees of compliance and risk management. The graph below rank orders the importance of BI objectives in 2018 compared to the percent change in BI objectives between 2017 and 2018. Enhanced customer service is the fastest growing objective enterprises adopt BI to accomplish, followed by growth in revenue (5.4%).
Dashboards, reporting, end-user self-service, advanced visualization, and data warehousing are the top five most important technologies and initiatives strategic to BI in 2018. The study found that second-tier initiatives including data discovery, data mining/advanced algorithms, data storytelling, integration with operational processes, and enterprise and sales planning are also critical or very important to enterprises participating in the survey. Technology areas being hyped heavily today including the Internet of Things, cognitive BI, and in-memory analysis are relatively low in the rankings as of today, yet are growing. Edge computing increased 32% as a priority between 2017 and 2018 for example. The results indicate the core aspect of excelling at using BI to drive better business decisions and more revenue still dominate the priorities of most businesses today.
Sales & Marketing, Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) and Executive Management have the highest level of interest in dashboards and advanced visualization. Finance has the greatest interest in enterprise planning and budgeting. Operations including manufacturing, supply chain management, and services) leads interest in data mining, data storytelling, integration with operational processes, mobile device support, data catalog and several other technologies and initiatives. It’s understandable that BICC leaders most advocate end-user self-service and attach high importance to many other categories as they are internal service bureaus to all departments in an enterprise. It’s been my experience that BICCs are always looking for ways to scale BI adoption and enable every department to gain greater value from analytics and BI apps. BICCs in the best run companies are knowledge hubs that encourage and educate all departments on how to excel with analytics and BI.
Insurance companies most prioritize dashboards, reporting, end-user self-service, data warehousing, data discovery and data mining. Business Services lead the adoption of advanced visualization, data storytelling, and embedded BI. Manufacturing most prioritizes sales planning and enterprise planning but trails in other high-ranking priorities. Technology prioritizes Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) given its scale and speed advantages. The retail & wholesale industry is going through an analytics and customer experience revolution today. Retailers and wholesalers lead all others in data catalog adoption and mobile device support.
Insurance, Technology and Business Services vertical industries have the highest rate of BI adoption today. The Insurance industry leads all others in BI adoption, followed by the Technology industry with 40% of organizations having 41% or greater adoption or penetration. Industries whose BI adoption is above average include Business Services and Retail & Wholesale. The following graphic illustrates penetration or adoption of Business Intelligence solutions today by industry.
Dashboards, reporting, advanced visualization, and data warehousing are the highest priority investment areas for companies whose budgets increased from 2017 to 2018. Additional high priority areas of investment include advanced visualization and data warehousing. The study found that less well-funded organizations are most likely to lead all others by investing in open source software to reduce costs.
Small organizations with up to 100 employees have the highest rate of BI penetration or adoption in 2018. Factors contributing to the high adoption rate for BI in small businesses include business models that need advanced analytics to function and scale, employees with the latest analytics and BI skills being hired to also scale high growth businesses and fewer barriers to adoption compared to larger enterprises. BI adoption tends to be more pervasive in small businesses as a greater percentage of employees are using analytics and BI apps daily.
Executive Management is most familiar with the type and number of BI tools in use across the organization. The majority of executive management respondents say their teams are using between one or two BI tools today. Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) consistently report a higher number of BI tools in use than other functional areas given their heavy involvement in all phases of analytics and BI project execution. IT, Sales & Marketing and Finance are likely to have more BI tools in use than Operations.
Enterprises rate BI application usability and product quality & reliability at an all-time high in 2018. Other areas of major improvements on the part of vendors include improving ease of implementation, online training, forums and documentation, and completeness of functionality. Dresner’s research team found between 2017 and 2018 integration of components within product dropped, in addition to scalability. The study concludes the drop in integration expertise is due to an increasing number of software company acquisitions aggregating dissimilar products together from different platforms.