Big Data Analytics Trends: SAS CEO Jim Goodnight

Fresh IDC figures show that the analytics market is booming, but what's behind the demand and how does it relate to big data? SAS co-founder Goodnight offers his take in this video interview.
Global business analytics software market grew 14.1% in 2011, and it's expected to keep growing nearly 10% per year through 2016.

The figures, released Wednesday by International Data Corp. (IDC), are at odds with research that shows that overall IT spending is up just 3% over the last year. Why are companies spending more on analytics despite cutbacks elsewhere? In the video interview embedded below, SAS CEO Jim Goodnight explains that influential books and articles helped ignite business-leader interest in making use of corporate data.

Analyst Dan Vesset, author of IDC's "Worldwide Business Analytics Software" report, credits "attention-grabbing headlines" about big data, rather than the data stockpiles themselves, with helping to put business analytics on the agenda of senior executives. Goodnight seems equally dubious, saying big data is the hot new topic "because people got tired of talking about the cloud."

That's vintage Goodnight plainspoken skepticism, which he shared in spades in this in-depth interview published earlier this year. It's not that big data doesn't exist; Goodnight points out that analytics vendors have been dealing with it for years.

[ Want more plain talk about analytics? Read SAS CEO Jim Goodnight: Not The Retiring Type. ]

Analytics vendors have been coming out of the woodwork since the market took off. And in some cases it's as if the marketing execs did a global search for the term "business intelligence" on Web sites and brochures and replaced it with "analytics." We asked Goodnight to explain the difference between BI and analytics, and he was ready with a clear and cogent description.

Goodnight offered a predictably SAS-centric view of the competitive threat posed by the likes of IBM, Oracle, SAP, and the open-source R programming language. Goodnight has good reason to be confident. IDC's latest numbers confirm that SAS continues to rack up double-digit growth, that it continues to be largest independent BI and analytics vendor (with $2.26 billion in revenue in 2011), and that it continues to lead the advanced analytics category with more than twice the marketshare (35.2%) of its nearest rival in that category, IBM (16.8%).

But IDC's figures also show that Oracle, SAP, and IBM grew a bit faster in the total BI and analytics market in 2011 (17.8%, 15.3%, and 14.2%, respectively) than did SAS ( 12.7%).

Open source adoption doesn't show up in reports about software sales (because the real money's in support, not licenses), but we hear plenty of buzz about the R language from data scientists and alternative vendors such as Revolution Analytics. Revolution is focused almost exclusively on bringing R-based analytics to big data challenges.

Nonetheless, we can't picture Goodnight looking over his shoulder. Watch the video and we think you'll agree that it's not his style. run-of-site player, used to publish article embedded videos via DCT. The same ads will be served on this player regardless of embed location.

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