Research company Forrester recently published a landmark study about the need for small- and medium-businesses to better manage and study their data. According to Forrester, 80% of companies will utilize their internally-collected and external data sets to learn more about their business through “Insight-as-a-Service (IAAS)” mechanisms. The Forrester study dove into the “Insight Services” market, identifying key players, examining domain-specific and industry-specific trends, and providing best practices for businesses planning their own entry into insight-based data analysis. 
According to Forrester, 80% of companies will utilize their internally-collected and external data sets to learn more about their business through “Insight-as-a-Service (IAAS)” mechanisms.
The study and the information it provides about IAAS comes at an important inflection point for data collection and analysis. For years, programs, applications, and platforms within the advertising and marketing space have provided various mechanisms for evaluating the work, audiences, and interactions conducted on their proprietary systems. Facebook and Instagram have Insights, Google has Analytics – nearly every digital marketing and advertising platform boasts a native mechanism for understanding and evaluating its effectiveness. The difficulty came when viewing those siloed data points in a comprehensive and insightful data story – hence the advent and importance of IAAS.
IAAS Overcomes Data Complexity
Prior to IAAS, many small- and medium-sized businesses relied on basic data management programs like Microsoft Excel to handle an increasingly complex data landscape. While these programs can process simple data imports, analyses, and visualizations through tools like pivot tables, charts and graphs, they were not designed to process multiple data sources and millions of data points. In contrast, IAAS platforms are purpose-built for big, complex data stacks, adept at pulling together large, disparate data sources and creating data-driven visualizations that tell the stories buried deep within the data set.
IAAS programs utilize data warehousing (such as Panoply) technologies to make deeper, more meaningful dives into data from multiple sources. Unlike a database, which is related information found in a single application or data source, a data warehouse is the SUM of the data contained in multiple sources or applications store in a single place. To illustrate, a database might be all the contacts in your Salesforce account, the SKUs in your product catalog, or the website user data in your Google Analytics account. A data warehouse is all those things together.
Data warehouses are the core component of a data stack, and just like inventory warehousing with physical products, they provide a place to store data until its needed for analysis. Modern data warehousing employs smart data warehouse technology with integrated artificial intelligence (AI) features. By adding AI technology to IAAS solutions, end users can experience faster query returns as the AI “learns” how the data is used and optimizes for it. This leads to faster downstream actions, like the visualizations popular in many business intelligence tools.
Capitalizing on IAAS
Streamlining the analysis process for large data sets is the main attraction of IAAS, but there are some other features that make it appealing to advertising and marketing users. The biggest is its versatility for end users of all technology backgrounds. Before cloud-based IAAS programs became available, this type of large-scale data analysis was only available to companies with huge IT budgets and a staff of tech-savvy IT pros with serious programming skills. IAAS, with its easy-configurable integrations and drag-and-drop interfaces, has democratized data analysis, making data insights accessible for everyone from account managers to digital marketers, while eliminating the need for large hardware and human resource investments.
Breaking down technical, IT, HR and other barriers is a calling card of disruptive technology, and IAAS promises more of the same. IAAS removes the frustration of the “I can’t know what I can’t know” decision making mindset. Instead, it empowers small- and medium- businesses by providing access to the data they already own and the tools they need to use it effectively.