We came across a recent Forbes article from Adrian Bridgwater that not only discusses the latest concept of data blending, but explores the idea of blending big data. At our digital marketing agency, we’re always looking for the latest in analytics and thought we’d share:

“Data has changed. It used to just be data. Now data is real time, data is blended, data is dark, data is visualized and data is time stamped, key value, spatial, disparate or large object — or it’s a combination of all nine of those attributes or styles. It is a given that any firm will need to bring its various data types together, so do we just dump it all into a spreadsheet app and hit go? Actually no, that’s now how Business Intelligence (BI) works in the real world.

The Harvard Business Review has said that so-called ‘data blending’ will be a key practice that companies now undertake as they struggle to harness big data.

Through 2017, Gartner research predicts the number of business users doing data analysis will grow five times faster than the number of highly skilled data scientists — and most business users and analysts will access self-service tools to prepare data for analysis.

Next up, big blended data?

If the industry has its way we might be calling it big blended data by the end of the year — but surely that’s ridiculous, we already have big data and we already have this thing we call ‘integration’, so what’s going on?

According to ClearStory Data, the Business Intelligence (BI) market has reached an inflection point of change. Two thirds (64%) of companies are already trying to combine five to 15 sources of data and 92 percent of business users are still using Excel for analysis, or so the firm claims.

It is on the back of this type of assertion that the firm has coined the term Intelligent Data Harmonization with a shiny ™ tag all of its own. New enhancements to its Apache Spark-native Intelligent Data Harmonization product surface this month and are targeted at ‘everyday business people’ who the firm says need to blend disparate data and be more self-reliant in reaching data analytics insights…

Business users to start harmonizing data

Smart data matching is visible and is supposed to be intuitive due to the use of Google-like visual maps that allow business users to see the specific path to holistic insights. The new guided application interface introduces auto-alerts for inconsistencies in the data or disparate data combinations that may not blend well. Users can quickly navigate to what they want to see and explore within the harmonized data.

‘Customers in hyper-competitive markets, driven by consumer demand or increased market complexity – such as consumer packaged good, national retail, healthcare and logistics/manufacturing – need near real-time business-ready insights and solutions that automate complex tasks by providing an easy-to-use, intuitive application interface,” said Ali Tore, chief product officer, ClearStory Data. “Through deeper visibility into what and how data is being blended and harmonized, paired with more automated intelligence through smart data matching, ClearyStory’s Spark-native solution and business-friendly application makes combining data a lot easier and faster so business users can be more self-reliant.’

Don’t just take ClearStory’s word for it, this whole harmonization & blending thing is the hot ticket right now.

Just this week we also hear news of data blending and advanced analytics company Alteryx amalgamating its products with Microsoft Corp. A new relationship has emerged which sees Alteryx and Microsoft offer deep integration between Alteryx Analytics and SQL Server 2014 (also SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2008), and will now also work to enable future collaboration between Alteryx Analytics and other Microsoft analytics products, including many of the components of Microsoft Azure and the Cortana Analytics Suite.

‘Alteryx is the first company to enable business analysts with the ability to create analytic workflows that output datasets directly to Microsoft Power BI for consumption by a wide range of business users,said George Mathew, president and COO at Alteryx, Inc. “As the first analytics partner to work with the Power BI team, Alteryx brings a whole new way for line-of-business analysts to take advantage of their data by quickly blending it, performing predictive or advanced analytics, and then easily consuming it in Power BI to visualize and analyze everything in one place.’

Big blended data, with a humanized touch

So big data analytics didn’t hang around very long did it? It’s now big blended data. Next it will be a case of big blended data getting plug-ins for human contextual semantics. No wait, Alteryx already did that and now integrates with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Text Analytics capabilities to help understand the customer sentiment expressed in text data.”