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In his 1999 book, “Business @ the Speed of Thought,” Bill Gates predicted the future “will be about velocity. About how quickly business itself will be transacted. About how information access will alter the lifestyle of consumers and their expectations of business…. When the increase in velocity is great enough, the very nature of business changes.”

That prediction seems almost prescient in 2016, as data has become the engine of business velocity, and anytime, anywhere access to that data is a requirement. The role of data in business decision-making is taking on ever greater importance, and the difference between success and failure can hinge on how fast you’re able to analyze data. As a result, business intelligence (BI) and advanced analytics (AA) are indeed changing the very nature of business.

SQL Server 2016: Technology @ the speed of business

With the recent launch of SQL Server 2016, it’s worth taking a look at how this release plays into Microsoft’s leadership and vision for BI and analytics. One example includes in-memory analytics improvements that enable significant data compression to speed up analytics query performance up to 100 times faster and empower employees to perform ad hoc queries much more quickly. Since the enhancements to SQL Server 2016 are based on technology that IT is already familiar with, IT can build on existing skill sets to perform modern BI and AA responsibilities and support a modern data strategy. For example, SQL Server 2016 lets IT transform data into easily understood, trusted data models with user access control to make sure only appropriate users see sensitive data. This means IT can transform complex data from multiple sources into powerful, scalable models that business analysts can easily understand and access by using familiar data analytics and discovery tools such as Excel or Power BI.

In addition, SQL Server 2016 includes R, the language used by data scientists for advanced analytics. With R and the in-memory capabilities of SQL, data scientists can add value in the creation of models and algorithms and run these in-database, reducing time and data movement. With ScaleR built into SQL Server 2016 R Services, typical memory limitations of Open Source R are eliminated and parallelization of scripts provides added benefits.

PolyBase in SQL Server 2016 enables database administrators and data analysts to use their existing T-SQL skills to extract value from both Hadoop unstructured data as well as structured data. Specifically on the import side, PolyBase lets analysts import external Hadoop and Azure blob storage data for persistent columnar storage. On the export side, PolyBase data can be exported from SQL Server tables to Hadoop or Azure blob storage for cold storage/archival while remaining queryable. PolyBase integrates seamlessly with all BI tools, including Microsoft’s BI tools such as SQL Server Analysis Services, SQL Server Reporting Services, Power BI and third-party tools like Tableau, Microstrategy and Cognos. In terms of mobile access, SQL Server 2016 delivers built-in mobile BI capabilities for both IT and business users. IT professionals have the tools they need to administer user access and shared data sets in one place.

Business users can then access insights in an intuitive, engaging way from their desktop and mobile devices and expect the insights to be optimized for different form factors and major mobile platforms. Find out more about these enhancements and innovations in upcoming blogs from the SQL Server engineering team. They’ll provide detailed discussions about the technology behind these enhancements and innovations.

Decisions @ the speed of thought

The amount of data available is expanding hugely, and the ability to quickly use that data in decision making is crucial. To this point, Michael Lock, vice president and principal analyst, Analytics and Business Intelligence, Aberdeen, emphasizes that his “research shows that companies experiencing rapid data expansion… are actually more likely to exploit the information to uncover business opportunities and drive growth,” and “expediting the transfer of information between relevant parties will pave the way for quicker decisions, fewer missed opportunities, and enhanced business performance as a result.”

Adding perspective to the relevance of this assertion, Forrester reports that 86 percent of marketing executives they surveyed agree that “predictive analytics helps evaluate opportunities to enter new markets.” With all this in mind, find out how SQL Server 2016 can enable your business to take advantage of data to make decisions @ the speed of thought and transform your business.

See the other posts in the SQL Server 2016 blogging series.

Try SQL Server 2016 RC