I have increasingly begun to hear this as I talk to IBM clients. Google and Yahoo saying that is one thing. Even program traders saying it is understood. But someone in manufacturing? Or retail? Or, as Daniel McCraffey from Zynga said it at the Strata Conf today, "we are an analytics company that happens to be in on-line gaming." This has begun to warm the cockles of my heart (is that an expression that Americans understand? -- but of course my blog has a following across the world :) :)
Daniel picked upon something that I had said in a panel just before him. I had said that increasingly companies are being driven from process-centricity to analytical-centricity. In that transition, they need to be able to determine what questions to ask, not just ask the questions they know to ask. I have said that before, so I do not want to be a broken record here. But what Daniel does not realize is that one of the reasons I say this is because I have learnt from Daniel's and Ken Rudin's previous talks on analytical driven gaming where I had heard them use this very expression. So that was a full circle :)
I have blogged about this partially in the past that at Zynga, the transformation was also organizational, not just technical. This "emded data scientists right in the team developing the games" is a far reaching organizational statement that Daniel brought out again.
There is another aspect of Zynga's use of analytics that is very interesting. While we tend to associate large data with gaming, and hadoop with large data, a lot of big lifting in Zynga is done on traditional, relational techniques. Volume by itself, as I have said in the past, is not an indicator of the choice of technology.
There were lots of interesting talks today, including the panel I participated in. More on it later.