Are you lost in a confusing soup of vendor-speak about what their data analytics stack actually offers? Big data, data platforms, advanced analytics, data lakes, real-time everything, streaming, the IoT, customer analytics, digital intelligence, real-time interaction, customer decision hubs, new-stuff-as-a-service, the list goes on.

Recognize the convergence happening as vendors evolve their technologies from doing just one thing like predictive analytics or search to many things together. For example, data integration, data warehouse, and BI tools are typically sold separately, but breakout vendor Looker combines data integration, model governance, basic BI, and a runtime for data applications all in one software layer that sits on your data lake. As another example, consider predictive analytics vendor Alpine Data Labs or SAS Viya from SAS. These vendors have built out a lot of data management and insight delivery tooling into their platforms because without it users struggle to maximize value. Another trend is big data search vendors like Maana that now also include hooks for predictive model execution as well as more data management functions. Lastly, systems integrators are packaging their IP and offering it as a data management and analytics integrated product — for example, Saama’s Fluid Analytics Engine or Infosys’ Information Platform.

In fact, the list of innovative vendors blending data management, analytics, and insight execution technology is growing by leaps and bounds. To address this trend, I just published a report, Insight Platforms Accelerate Digital Transformation, in which I created a broad definition that labels this trend:

Insight platforms unify the technologies to manage and analyze data, test and integrate the derived insights into business action, and capture feedback for continuous improvement.

Here is a picture that compares insight platforms to traditional approaches tools:

I also just surveyed over 140 data and analytcs vendors that I thought might be building insight platforms. The results were fascinating. While I’m still sorting through the responses, it was clear that vendors are excited about positioning their offerings as insight platforms. And buyers like the idea too as a way to get beyond big data and advanced analytics hype.

What chord is this new term striking? Read my blog post "Think You Want To Be Data-Driven? Insight Is The New Data." But to save you the time, let me summarize: Businesses want action, not data. The path to action lies through digital insight. That is insight you can test and implement in software. Given the complexity of data, the many new kinds of analytics, and the diverse ways you can deliver insight in software, we all need a better strategy.

That’s where insight platforms come in because they let you: 1) source the right data and manage it, 2) perform analysis using many different techniques, 3) implement the resulting insights into software, and 4) close the feedback loop by capturing outcome data so you can continuously optimize.

We are just getting started here with this line of research. I’ll be segmenting the market in the coming month or two and then publishing a Vendor Landscape report. Next, we will be looking at the market and filling in the gaps with Forrester Wave evaluations to help our clients pick the right platform for their needs.