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Demystifying The Myths Around Cloud Analytics

Deepak Ghodke

By Deepak Ghodke, Country Manager India, Tableau Software

Cloud adoption has been rapid in recent years, including in India. More and more businesses are moving critical services to the cloud—including their data. Studies (like this one from Enterprise Management Associates), show that more than half of businesses are partly or fully cloudy when it comes to analytics. That is to say, most of us in business use some or many cloud tools every day to answer questions relevant to our jobs.

But what about the remaining companies?

The forty-some percent that are still just getting started moving analytics to the cloud?

For those businesses, there might be some myths about the cloud that may be causing undue caution. If you’re still on the fence because of any of the following reasons, you won’t be after learning the facts.

Myth #1: The cloud is less secure

Perhaps because real clouds are ephemeral, many worry that their data will be easy prey for hackers in the metaphorical cloud. The newness of cloud computing also causes worry. But in reality, cloud analytics brings world-class security—security that is likely an upgrade over your current situation.

One reason security can improve with the cloud is because cloud vendors have more resources for security. It’s common for them to monitor security and assess threats on a second-by-second basis. They also have a team assigned to deal with any data breach and apply a patch as necessary. These resources exceed what many businesses can provide, and getting access to such security is a major plus of cloud computing.

Myth #2: Moving into the cloud will be more trouble than it’s worth

Moving is one of the scariest words in English. Whether moving your home, office, or data, the process can feel traumatic, and it seems like something always gets lost or broken. The fear of moving intimidates some from adopting cloud analytics, but it’s a baseless fear: in many cases, your data is already in the cloud in significant ways.

For example, if you use cloud applications for enterprise apps such as CRM, ERP, and HRM, you already have—pardon the mixed metaphor—one foot in the door of the cloud. From there, it’s an easy step move your analytics into the cloud too. This multiplies your data analysis options, since you can use cloud analytics for any data, whether cloud or otherwise.

Myth #3: The cloud is expensive

You may look at your current software bill and think, “I can’t add something new! What I have now is expensive enough.”

Fortunately, cloud analytics tends to be very flexible, not just for data storage and analytics, but in terms of pricing. You’re likely to find more choices than with traditional software providers, including the option to add licenses as you need them and depending on growth. There usually isn’t a massive buy-in up front. Cloud companies are making adoption low-risk and easy on the budget.

Myth #4: The cloud will require more IT resources

Actually, the cloud will drastically minimize such expenditures, for the same reason the security will likely be stronger: cloud companies have more resources to devote to your data and analytics. This state of affairs is related to the following myth.

Myth #5: Cloud analytics is just an IT thing

Thanks to self-service analytics, which are increasingly part of cloud analytic services, everyone can work with data. This means that anyone in the company, from the top to the bottom, can analyze and visualize data to get the answers they need. It also means the financial buy-in for cloud analytics is broader than you would expect.

According to EMA’s “Analytics in the Cloud” report, over half of organizations are receiving funding for cloud analytics from outside IT. Usually, the contribution is 21-25% of the budget for BI and cloud analytics. This is a natural byproduct of the democratization of data and good news for companies looking to buy in: since these products are being used throughout organizations, the funding can also be spread out, as diverse stakeholders share the costs.

Myth #6: If data isn’t on-premise, it will take too much time to access

This is a natural fear that makes sense on the face of it: If your data isn’t literally here, won’t it be harder to access? Many companies fear the loss of control will cause delays and other problems.

In reality, speed is one of the strengths of cloud analytics. In an EMA report called “Analytics in the Cloud,” 257 panelists from business and IT shared their experiences with cloud analytics. When asked the top three business drivers to cloud analytics, the top three were all speed-related. Simply put, the technology of cloud analytics is an upgrade over older methods, and businesses can work with data faster and in more hands-on ways.

But it’s not just speed for speed’s sake: cloud analytics are giving businesses a quicker path to actionable analysis: useful data that can be leveraged for decisions and—ultimately—profits. It’s the best kind of speed: taking businesses where they want to go, and in many cases where they didn’t know they needed to go before using data discovery software.

Myth #7: Putting data in the cloud will make data harder to access

This could be true in a few cases. Nothing is perfect, and the cloud isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. There will probably always be situations where it’s better to have some data on-premises. For example, if you need constant real-time access to it for some reason, that might be better to keep in-house. If your data is subject to legal requirements for data auditing, then it’s probably better for you to keep a tighter grasp on your data.

However, cloud analytics opens up more doors than it closes. When your analytics are in the cloud, it’s much easier to access them from laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Increasingly, this is important for all kinds of businesses: it’s no longer enough to do data analysis in the office. You need to show a client a dashboard in the middle of a meeting, and that meeting might be at a hotel bar or coffee shop. No one wants to postpone a meeting till they get back to their cubicle—or to wait hours or days for a data report. The cloud makes it much easier to dig into the data as needed, wherever you are.

Myth #8: Cloud analytics are only good for a few types of projects

Some think that cloud analytics are useful, but only in certain areas—like for sales. While it’s true that sales is a robust area for cloud analytics (thanks mainly to Salesforce) there isn’t anything limited or limiting about the cloud: companies are using it for multiple, diverse projects.

For example, EMA’s “Analytics in the Cloud” report indicated that over 40% of organizations were using cloud analytics for at least five projects. 41% said they were using cloud analytics for 3-4 projects. So the cloud is far from limited or mono-useful. Companies are finding that the speed and analytical power are useful company-wise for completely different purposes.

And projects are being sponsored all across companies: by (in descending order) IT, sales, finance, human resources, marketing, customer service/care, corporate executives, and so on. The versatility of cloud-based analytics is appealing and useful to anyone with big data they need to understand and utilize quickly.

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