At the Crossroads of Digital Transformation: The Future of the Advanced IT Analytics "Market"
October 19, 2017

Dennis Drogseth
EMA

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One of the things that became quickly apparent in researching the thirteen vendors in EMA's Advanced IT Analytics Buyer's Guide was that the market, if you can call it a market at all, is rapidly changing. This is true across the board — in functionality, scope, and use case. Splunk's recent acquisition of Rocana (announced three days before writing this blog) only accentuates the dynamism underway.

It's also important to keep the diversity of the Advanced IT Analytics (AIA) landscape in mind as you plan for your investments. AIA is still not a market in the traditional sense, since market definitions typically require narrow technology parameters for creating discrete buckets for market sizing and contrast. My vision of AIA is rather an arena of fast-growing exploration and invention, in which in-house development is beginning to cede to third-party solutions that can accelerate time to value.

The comments presented below reflect an admittedly optimistic worldview on this topic. But the optimism is founded in dialog and research. What I'm sharing here is both what I believe to be true, and what I hope to be true. Given history of course, there is often something of an abyss between potential and reality. An abyss that is usually emerges from the politics and comfort levels in positions of leadership, as well as boxed-in views of reality defined, alas, too often by the likes of me.

But for the fun of it — let's cross that abyss now.

Architected for growth

After reviewing the ratings for each vendor on a scale of "outstanding" to "not present" for a wide range of capabilities just described in my three prior blogs on shopping cart criteria — I expect to see significant progress as soon as 12 months out. I expect that more than a few ratings of "present" or "in process" will become "strong" or conceivably even "outstanding." This is good news for both the vendors included in this report and for IT adopters seeking to invest in growth opportunities.

All 13 AIA solutions, as different as they are from each other, are architected for growth and versatility. Look especially for innovations in cognitive computing, more prescriptive analytics, and more evolved capabilities to support if/then analytics for change and capacity planning.

Look as well for a growth in business impact values and outreach into emerging areas such as IoT and integrated security. And for those AIA vendors with a strong APM focus, look for continued growth in the DevOpsarena.

Beyond Big Data

AIA is also not strictly about big data in the classic sense. While large volumes of disparate data are central to the AIA story, dynamic currency and relevance is paramount. The cutting edge for AIA is analytics, use case, time to value, and focused realization. To confuse any of the solutions reviewed with simply putting a lot of data into Cassandra or Hadoop and then relying on Qlik or Elasticsearch is to do all 13 AIA vendor-innovators a great disservice.

Dependency mapping

Another trend that surfaced in researching this Buyer's Guide was the growing importance of service-dependency mapping and real-time or continuous discovery — two capabilities that have been at odds in the past but which are beginning to converge within the AIA landscape.

AIA isn't just about data. It's about relevance and action.

Once again, AIA isn't just about data. It's about relevance and action. And insights into real-world and real-time interdependencies across the application/infrastructure, no matter how they are achieved and visualized, can provide a context for action, both in terms of technical relevance and in terms of the politics of siloed IT ownership.

The Best of Both Worlds

What's implied in this still very new arena for IT investment is that IT leadership wants the best of two worlds — diversity, eclectic use case, and broad stakeholder support, on the one hand, with tools that are easy to deploy and administer on the other hand.

Although there is still plenty of room for progress, we're already witnessing surprising advances in each of these areas. Perhaps what's most striking in our assessments, including the vetted comments from actual deployment interviews, is how much progress really has been made already—and how fast these solutions are evolving to address the total AIA wish list.

At the Crossroads of IT and Digital Transformation

Finally, the data from our prior research, confirmed largely by deployment interviews here, indicates that to succeed AIA needs to be viewed as a strategic, not a tactical, investment. AIA and its associated investments in visualization and automation sit at the very crossroads of IT and digital transformation.

In many IT organizations, AIA is best driven with senior executive support. This is because reaching meaningful benefits isn't just about deploying the most game-changing technology. It requires leadership to encourage new ways of working across IT and between IT and business stakeholders. As such, this transformation will eventually mean new kinds of dialogs and new ways of thinking.

As AIA matures, perhaps the very heart of the matter will move beyond technology breaking points and begin to center on more role awareness, dialog, and integrated IT and business transformation — where the analytic magic is so consumable that you don't really have to know it's there. 

Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)
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