SAP recently held a teleconference to highlight its blockchain strategy. Lately, the major business software vendors have been calling attention to their blockchain initiatives. While the focus on this technology might seem premature to those who still equate it with cryptocurrencies, evidence is pointing to a future pace of adoption similar to the rapid take-up of the internet in the 1990s. That blockchain is useful for a wide range of business functions isn’t news – just google “blockchain use cases.” Payment, provenance, testament and efficiency are four main themes driving a multitude of applications of the technology. That said, blockchain isn’t technology in search of a mission but is something more like the internet, both in its broad utility and in value multiplication through network effects.
Robots of the physical sort are not about to take over finance and accounting but we have arrived at the age of “Robotic Finance”. I coined this term to focus on four key technologies with transformative capabilities: artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotic process automation, bots and natural language processing and blockchain distributed ledger technology. Embracing these technologies will enable any department to redefine itself as a forward-looking strategic partner to the rest of the company.
We at Ventana Research recently published our research agendas for 2018. Analytics and business intelligence are evolving and so is our research on their use across practice areas. Earlier research has shown that analytics can deliver significant value to organizations; for example, our predictive analytics research shows that 57 percent of organizations reported achieving a competitive advantage and half created new revenue opportunities with predictive analytics. Waves of investment in self-service analytics have propelled the market for analytics tools, significantly empowering line-of-business organizations to create their own analytics and set their own analytic priorities. But organizations are also beginning to recognize some of the limitations of current analytics implementations – for self-service, for example. Our Data Preparation Benchmark Research reveals that fewer than half (42%) of organizations are comfortable allowing business users to work with data not prepared by IT. Our research this year will continue to explore both the successes and challenges organizations face as they continue to use analytics and BI.
The Strata Data Conference is changing and it’s changing in a good way. At the recent Strata Data Conference in New York, Mike Olson, chief strategy officer at Cloudera, which co-sponsored the event, commented that at prior events we used to talk about the “Hadoop zoo animals,” meaning the various components of the Hadoop ecosystem of which I have written previously. Following last fall’s Strata event, I observed that the conference was evolving to focus on the use of data. Advancing that evolution, this year’s event focused on a particular type of usage: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The evolution from a focus on zoo animals to a focus on business value using advanced analytics shows further maturation of the big data market.
Fra Luca Pacioli, a 15th-century Franciscan friar living in what’s now Italy, is credited with codifying double-entry bookkeeping, which is the foundation of accounting. Pacioli, a polymath, was well acquainted with his contemporary and fellow polymath Leonardo Da Vinci. So, given they were at times collaborators, it’s fitting that one of the most important applications of SAP’s Leonardo technology will be in helping to disrupt finance and accounting organizations in corporations.