Top News – Data, Data Warehousing, Analytics & BI

December 30th, 2013
Stephen McDaniel
Chief Data Officer Advisor at Freakalytics, LLC

Finding it hard to make time to keep up with the rapidly changing world of data, data warehousing, analytics, data science, business intelligence and visual analytics? We understand! Here’s our curated summary of relevant news that could help with your future data and analytic projects. We also add commentary on the topic, a summary of the article (in orange) and the link to read the full article.

There are four articles in this update:
Why Do Forecasters Keep Forecasting?
2014 BI Outlook: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not
Where do you sound like you’re from? (How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk)
Aided by Data Analytics, Internal Auditors Dig Deep
01-01Why Do Forecasters Keep Forecasting?

I found this article quite interesting, a wide range of investment advisors missed the forecast for the growth of the S&P stock market index in 2013, all of them by a huge amount (a range of being off by -53% to -109%)!  This shows how incredibly difficult forecasting even one year out can be, in spite of these companies having entire teams of experts constantly studying every machination of the underlying data that affects the stock market including economic factors, political climate   and more. In fact, if forecasters at many retailers were off by so much on their overall company sales growth forecasts, they would likely be sacked or at least pummeled with a bag of oranges in the garage one dark evening!

Why is this article so important? Because there has been tremendous hype around the power of predictive analytics to steer the business. The reality is that forecasting is an incredibly hard job, regardless of the overall intelligence, toolset, access to data and experience of the team. Does this mean we should give up on forecasting and using advanced methods to predict future outcomes and behaviors? No! However, it does imply that forecasting should be fluid and adjusted, sometimes rapidly, in response to changing external factors.

All of this begs the question, how can someone do this? In my opinion, it points back to visual analytics, dedicated teams of business analysts with clear missions and good data management and warehouse practices with an agile approach, so that major misses can be caught, reviewed and corrected mid-course.


I created my own summary dashboard of the growth forecasts (image above.) Imagine if you were a client of these firms and you were told in late 2012 that stocks would lose money in 2013 (Wells Fargo and UBS), so you buried it all back into low-yield bonds! In the words of Warren Buffett, “Buy when everyone else is selling.”

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2014 US growth forecasts of Business Intelligence vendors

There are many ways of measuring the growth of business intelligence vendors. One approach of interest in the era of self-service analytics is to measure the growth in web search volume. Derived from web search volume data from Google, the following analyses can serve as a useful reference to understand which companies/products are growing in popularity and which may be falling out of favor.

The estimates in all of the following analyses are based on simple web search volume indices from the United States through the end of November, 2013. Using historic search volume data, forecasts were built for each company/product and growth rates for 2014 were derived from these forecasts.

I would group these companies into three categories
fast growers- Tableau, PowerPivot, Qlikview, BIRST and GoodData;
the growers- Spotfire and Microstrategy,
and mature products- Oracle BI, SAS, Cognos, SPSS, SQL Server, Actuate and Business Objects.

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Upcoming analytics courses, free webinars and articles
December 2013 newsletter

Thanks for your interest in our newsletter, please forward it to colleagues that may benefit from it. Please join us for our upcoming webinar next Monday on common analytic issues and mistakes in Tableau 8.

Eileen and I are excited to share our new courses on Tableau, Microstrategy Analytics Desktop (a free alternative for visual analytics and dashboards), SAS programming and data exploration and visualization are all available for on-site instruction.

We are booking engagements with clients for on-site training and strategic consulting projects throughout Q1 and into Q2 of 2014, please let us know if we can help you in 2014!

Data Management and Visual Analytics with Tableau (2 days)
January 28th-29th, 2014—Chicago, Illinois
Everyone can benefit from learning a reliable, flexible and repeatable method to analyze real-world data. Combine this with a solid grounding in the flow and core features of Tableau to achieve great returns with this course. In just two days, you will complete multiple real-world case studies with Tableau paired with supporting data management capabilities of Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access.

Data Management and Visual Analytics with Microstrategy Analytics Desktop (2 days)
Microstrategy Analytics Desktop is an exciting new offering of Microstrategy, an established leader in business intelligence. Available as a free product for both personal and professional use, Freakalytics considers this new product a good alternative to other leading products in visual analytics and analytic dashboards. It is capable of working with local data sources such as Excel, text files and Access databases in addition to remote, big data sources such as SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL and Hadoop.

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Eight common analytic issues and mistakes in Tableau 8

Understand them, avoid them and correct them December 23rd, 2013 — 11 AM Central, Noon Eastern, 9 AM Pacific, 5 PM London Click here to register Synopsis In this webinar, Stephen reviews common shortcomings and misunderstandings that can prevent effective use of Tableau. These issues can result in misleading or just plain wrong answers being … Read more

A spin-free explanation of data warehouse versus big data

It should be no surprise that many Hadoop (big data) systems sit side by side with data warehouses. These systems serve different purposes and complement one another.”
– Joint quote from CTO of cloudera and General Manager at Teradata


As you may have heard, big data is all the craze and at the top of the technology hype cycle! In my opinion, it is thoroughly confusing business execs, overwhelming IT teams and being used to market a massive range of new startups, sometimes justifiably. The reality is that big data will most likely NOT replace your data warehouse and the data scientist will most likely NOT replace your business analyst teams.

In a recent white paper,

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