Next Gen. DSRs - Analytic Freedom !

Current Demand Signal Repositories don't play well with others. Their data is locked away behind layers of security and you can only access it through the shackles of their chosen front-end for reporting. There is no good way to get that rich dataset into other tools: you have to copy it into a new database and new data structures. (In some cases you may have to do this twice, once to rearrange the data from the DSR into a format you can understand, then again to match the data structure needs of the downstream tool.)

For small-scale models (do we do those anymore?) that sip data from the original repository you can do this through the reporting engine and live with the pain, for large scale modeling it's really not an option.

I want freedom. Freedom to analyze with whatever tools I need

: The freedom to report in Business Objects, visualize in Tableau, analyze in R and run existing applications (order-forecasting, master-data-checking, clustering, assortment optimization, etc.) directly against this data. 

(I'm not endorsing any of these tools and you can replace the named software above with anything you deem relevant - that's kind of the point).

Much of this freedom comes from a simplified data model, enabled by new database technologies (massively parallel processing, scale-out, in-memory and columnar). See more details at 

data handling

.

It also needs a security model that is handled by the database NOT the reporting layer or as soon as you get to the underlying data you can see lot's of interesting things you shouldn't :-)

I suppose I could live with a little less freedom if a DSR offered all the tools I need but I don't think that's realistic. Not all DSR reporting layers are equal, data visualization is hit and miss, and as I posted in 

An Analytic name is not enough

 while there are some good DSR based analytic applications you will find many use pseudo-analytics and some have no analytic basis at all.

Do you think, perhaps, that the Next Generation DSR will provide the best reporting, visualization and analytic tools available? Sorry, I don't think so. DSRs cover a dizzying array of analytic need and developing robust, flexible analytic applications, even assuming easy access to the data, is an expensive proposition for any DSR vendor to do alone. I anticipate a few strong analytic "flag-ship" tools will emerge alongside more me-too/check-the-box applications packed with pseudo-analytics.

So, what can the Next Generation DSR do to help?

  • make it (much) easier to get at the data in large quantities,
  • make it (much) easier to bring analytics to bear on that data. (Perhaps with an integrated analytic toolset)
  • open up the system to whatever analytic tools work best for you
  • make it easy for other software vendors to provide add-in analytics on the DSR data/analytics platform.

Think about that last point for a moment, no DSR vendor is big enough to provide state of the art analytic applications in all areas, but make it easy enough to integrate with and it could enable specialist analytics vendors to offer their tools as add-ins to the platform. (This could be good news for the analytics vendor too, it removes the need for them to install and maintain their own DSR just to enable the analytics)

Let's look at an example.

Today if you want assortment-optimization capability, you can

  • wait for your DSR vendor to develop it and hope they use real analytics; or
  • search for another solution and work to interface the (very large) quantities of data you need between the applications;
  • write your own (always fun, but you had better know what you are doing) and you will still need to interface the data.
  • decide not to bother

All but the last one of these are slow - I'm guessing 12 months plus.

In the NextGen world, if you want to new analytic capability, you could still write your own, it's easy to hook up the analytic engine, or, just go to the DSR's analytic market-place and shop for it.