Insight as a Service (Part 2)

In a previous post introduced the concept of Insight as a Service and described some of the issues that will need to be addressed for such services to be possible.  Insight as a Service refers to action-oriented, analytic-driven solutions that operate on data generated by SaaS applications, proprietary corporate data, as well as syndicated and open source data and are delivered over the cloud.  This definition is meant to differentiate Insight as a Service, which I associate with action, from Analytics as a Service, which I associate with data science, and Data as a Service which I associate with the cloud-based delivery of syndicated and open source data.  For example, a cloud-based solution that analyzes data to create a model that predicts customer attrition and then uses it to score a company’s customer base in order to establish their propensity to churn is an Analytics as a Service solution.  On the other hand, a cloud-based solution which, in addition to establishing each customer’s attrition score, automatically identifies the customers to focus on, recommends the attrition-prevention actions to apply on each target customer and determines the portion of the marketing budget that must be allocated to each set of related actions, is an Insight as a Service solution.

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Insight as a Service

The survey data presented in Pacific Crest’s SaaS workshop pointed to the need for a variety of data analytic services.  These services can be offered under the term Insight-as-a-Service.  They can range from business benchmarking, e.g., compare one business to its peers’ that are also customers of the same SaaS vendor, to business process improvement recommendations based on a SaaS application’s usage, e.g., reduce the amount spent on search keywords by using the SEM application’s keyword optimization module, to improving business practices by integrating syndicated data with a client’s own data, e.g., reduce the response time to customer service requests by crowdsourcing responses.  Today I wanted to explore Insight-as-a-Service as I think it can be the next layer in the cloud stack and can prove the real differentiator between the existing and next-generation SaaS applications (see also here, and Salesforce’s acquisition of Jigsaw).

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Insight Generation

In my last blog I tried to define the concept of insight.  In this post I discuss insight generation.  Insights are generated by systematically and exhaustively examining a) the output of various analytic models (including predictive, benchmarking, outlier-detection models, etc.) generated from a body of data, and b) the content and structure of the models themselves.  Insight generation is a process that takes place together with model generation, but is separate from the decisioning process during which the generated models, as well as the insights and their associated action plans are applied on new data.

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