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May 4, 2017

Master Data Management, Business Intelligence, and Data Analytics vendors continue to be disruptive in two fundamental ways—through self-service tools and cloud-elastic license models. That was the big takeaway from this spring’s Gartner Data & Analytics Summit. These new approaches are changing the analytics space and will influence how we at GDIT develop and deliver our own Data and Analytics solutions to our government customers.

The Rise of Self-Service and Cloud-Elastic Models

Self-service data preparation tools like Paxata, Tamr, and Trifacta have taken over the leadership positions in the data-integration tools race. Self-service data visualization tools such as Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, and Qlik have done the same in the business intelligence (BI) and analytics space. 

New self-service trends in data cataloging, data management, and data science are pushing the boundaries of self-service and removing the need for specialists in data integration, data modeling, and even data sciences. 

Self-service data science tools, also called Smart Data Discovery, are amazing. Check out BeyondCore (a Salesforce company); this easy-to-use tool allows a business analyst to interact with dashboards, reports, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics to affect desired outcomes.

Cloud-elastic tools continue to expand in scope and sheer number. Qlik and AWS QuickSight are a cloud-only modern BI tools that have put extreme pricing pressure on traditional BI vendors (e.g. Cognos, BusinessObjects, OBIEE), and even on Tableau.  Domo, Birst, and other cloud-only solutions make self-service data visualization affordable to every organization.

DataScience is a cloud-hosted platform that supports data science from data ingestion, transformation, and analysis, to predictive modeling and model deployment. The end-to-end tool kit automates the entire predictive analytics process. It’s a really cool tool that will displace SAS, SPSS, and other data science tool kits.

Movers and Shakers in Analytics

Here’s an update on other new technologies I’ve been following, some of which may have potential for CSRA customers:

  • Natural Language Query and Generation is maturing. Several vendors at the Gartner summit demonstrated intuitive BI tools with conversational analytics.
  • Smart Data Discovery is here now. End-users can now build a descriptive report/dashboard with assistance (think automatic Tableau) and predictive analytics to predict and influence future actions. The ability to build predictive models has been a bottleneck for years and helps overcome the shortage of data scientists.
  • Data Cataloging tools now automate the discovery of, use of, and metadata of disparate databases across an enterprise. This is a huge problem for CSRA’s larger customers, so I look forward to exploring this solution further.

Key Soundbites Worth Chewing On

Technology aside, I was impressed with the keynote speakers at Gartner this year and their take on data and analytics, creativity, diversity, scarcity, and abundance. Here are some of the key takeaways I gleaned from the experience:

  • Technology can turn scarcity into abundance by applying analytics to big data.
  • Diverse teams outperform other teams, yet self-assess themselves well below monolithic teams.
  • Frustration often leads to creativity.
  • Cybersecurity is our nation’s Achilles heel and makes us vulnerable to foes that do not use bombs or aircraft carriers.
  • Use of social media has reduced the average number of friends we have.
  • Human capital is equal to, if not more important than, technical correctness.

My biggest “aha!” moment from Gartner was realizing that the application of analytics to the ever-growing amount of data is truly a wealth-creation device, because it overcomes the scarcity of analysts while creating an abundance of insight, operational efficiencies, and innovations.

With data-analytic technologies, we can be disruptive for the greater good—to improve our lives, communities, government, and planet.


Recently Dave Vennergrund, CSRA’s Director of the Data and Analytics Service Area, attended the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit 2017 in Grapevine, Texas. Gartner is a leading IT research company providing technology-related assessments.

Please note: The content on this page was originally posted on prior to its acquisition by General Dynamics. This content was migrated to on July 9, 2018.​