While last month’s Information-on-Demand conference was short on very big announcements, behind the scenes IBM did make a number of discreet and altogether quieter product launches. One of them—the soon-to-be-released Analytic Answers—heralds a new approach for IBM in delivering a cloud-based hosted analytics service for mid-sized organisations.
To explain further it's worth understanding a little more about what Analytic Answers offers—you can read my full review and analysis in this briefing note. It’s free to download, you’ll just need to log in with a free account. In my briefing note you’ll find out more about the scope of the new hosted service and who it’s aimed at—at the moment it’s targeted at answering four specific questions (three are vertically specific and the last is across industry). You should also know that Analytic Answers isn’t a generic analytic cloud-based service where users are free to ask any type of question of the data or use it as a knowledge discovery capability to uncover previously unknown insights within their data. Instead Analytic Answers assumes you know the questions you need to ask. I explain how this works in my briefing note.
Overall though, although there are a couple of caveats to be aware of, Analytic Answers represents a sensible first step for mid-sized organisations wanting to advance their predictive analytic capabilities. It’s generally agreed that in contrast to large enterprises, mid-sized firms are looking for simple, pre-packaged solutions aligned to their industry that require less technical expertise and are easier to implement. This also reflects the limited IT infrastructure, restricted IT budgets and lack of specialised in-house analytic skills and staff that characterise many of them. Analytic Answers helps to satisfy these needs, although until the company releases its subscription price scheme it’s difficult to assess whether it will hit the right price point too.