In the last few weeks we have seen new products launched by IT majors that have the potential to greatly influence the fortunes of the Analytics and Insights business. IBM’s Watson Analytics and Oracle’s Cloud based Analytics are just two new solutions/ platforms that have hit the market. We can rest assured that many more such offerings will be launched in the coming weeks. As the products keep coming, they raise some important question for the analytics industry. What impact they will have? Is the Analytics & Insights business ready for these changes at all?

It is almost two weeks since Big Blue launched its Watson Analytics. It is a natural language-based cognitive service that can provide businesses instant access to powerful predictive insights and cool reports. Launched as a freemium service, it will provide predictive insights for a small fee and hopes to leapfrog user base.

Watson Analytics is all set to take full advantage of IBM’s acquisitions – SPSS will provide the horsepower for predictive analytics while Cognos will supply the visualization. It will enable business users to upload data to their cloud. Once data quality is established, the user can input his/her requests via an interactive screen and in return obtain predictive insights and reports via pleasing visualization.

Oracle also has just announced its Analytics Cloud services with similar capabilities. The product features and details may vary but at a high level they will help business users get their insights easily and quickly.

These products promise to be game changers because the business user does not require the intermediation of modelers to build predictive models or coders to write the code for the models. Across industry verticals, they will empower business users to make well informed decisions with ease and speed. They hold the promise of greatly widening user base. While the platforms are slick, it remains to be seen how the market responds. Ultimately, the revenue performance will determine if they are successful.

From a Banking and Financial services (BFS) perspective, many banks have long been seeking similar tools. In the past few years many have invested top dollars in similar solutions tailored for their specific requirements. However, a huge majority of banks do not have such a tool / product. For now, IBM and Oracle being early birds, clearly are way ahead of competition and will reap full benefits for their investments and efforts.

These products have not emerged overnight. It is obviously the result of powerful research / understanding of customer requirements backed by significant investments. Business user communities across industries and particularly at banks are asking the logical question – why did it take so long for such a product to hit the market? We don’t have easy answers to these questions.

For IT vendors and outsourcing majors these products have created new challenges and opportunities. How can they help their clients derive maximum value from these innovations?

IT outsourcing vendors who have a stake in the Analytics and Insights business should quickly develop a game plan to address these challenges. In my view these new products have pushed the majors, willingly or unwillingly, to a cross road. Many of these majors have a lot of homework to do – they still have to get their house in order and bring in the correct leadership. Running the Insights business as an extension of IT data warehousing shop will not cut ice. If past experience has taught anything, it is that domain experts with hands-on business expertise may have better odds of success at this business. Those who are prepared and have the right combination of leadership and domain expertise will be the ones to meet and take advantage of the opportunities. The rest, as they say, will miss the bus again.