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Richard Hackathorn: December 2009 Archives

Aha! Software Delivers Insights

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Aha logo2.pngAha! Software of Colorado presented with Mark Teflian, CEO & Founder, Bruce Bacon, VP Product & Founder, Tom Holloran, VP Delivery, and Peter Gallanis, Chief Architect & Founder. When Mark was asked about what differs their company in a very crowded analytics marketplace, he replied, "The theme is embedding analytics into business process. 93% do not use analytics in their day-to-day jobs. We fuse management science and operational research into practical business applications." Their customers are in healthcare, telecommunications, travel and transportation, such as Qwest, Coventry Health Care and Deltacom.

Aha analytics.pngMark pointed out that the analytics will be driven by aligning and integrate it into the business fabric. Their market segment is "Business Embedded Analytics" that he estimates to be $2 B to $3 B in 2010, or about 10% of the total Analytics marketplace. He offered the chart at the right as a definition and range of analytics. He elaborated that analytics is analytics when it is driven by a "model". Analytics is a model-driven decision making. Needs to close the loop with actionable information whose impacts/effects are measured to become part of the next iteration.

Aha demo1.pngTom did a demo on Coventry Healthcare to analyze and manage the "dis-enrollment" of clients, which has reached 21% churn rate. One situation noted by Tom was when a high dis-enrollment of new clients was questioned, which lead to changes in call center for verifying new policies. Note the drop in rates from 10% to 2%. It was actually a third-party service partner who had a broken script who was dis-enrolling clients as fast as they were enrolling. The point was that a holistic perspective on KPIs could see strategies impacted by faulty operations.

Claudia asked about the meaning of "collaborative analytics" in this business situation since the three user group shared the same data but do not interact during the process. Their tools does support event management that allows users to interact on KPIs over specific durations.

My Take

Aha Software is touching a critical part (embedded analytics) within BI industry practices. This was a great session that surfaces several fundamental issues for the evolution of business intelligence. In some ways, the issues have not changed (simple versus complex, depth versus breadth). In other ways, the issues become intertwined into hard organizational and management problems.

Balancing the simple with the complex...How do you simplify and embed complex analytics into biz processes, AND the results are valid? Simple for simple sake is easy! How valid is the generic model to the specific business situation?

Achieving actionable analytics... Actionable should imply that the results can be easily mapped to business actions with interfaces into business process management systems for workflow creation/monitoring.

Preserving organizational attention... A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, by Herbert Simon. See the Wikipedia entry on Attention Economy and the full quote from Simon. This challenges that more information is better, the special case is... Is more analytics better? Under what conditions?

Defining predictive analytics... Where is the boundary for analytics between "rear view mirror" historical and "forward looking" predictive? Is a linear trend line on a Excel chart predictive? Does "What-If" case a necessary part of predictive analytics?

Post Thought

Over lunch we got into a discussion of their business model. I was so focused on the differentiating factors in the technology, I forgot to investigate the nature of Aha! Software's business. The examples were mostly direct sales of Software-as-a-Service with some professional services. However, their future thrust will be into open branding of their analytics for OEMs and system integrators within vertical markets.


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