October 15, 2012

What is meant by “iterative analytics”

A number of people and companies are using the term “iterative analytics”. This is confusing, because it can mean at least three different things:

  1. You analyze something quickly, decide the result is not wholly satisfactory, and try again. Examples might include:
    • Aggressive use of drilldown, perhaps via an advanced-interface business intelligence tool such as Tableau or QlikView.
    • Any case where you run a query or a model, think about the results, and run another one after that.
  2. You develop an intermediate analytic result, and using it as input to the next round of analysis.  This is roughly equivalent to saying that iterative analytics refers to a multi-step analytic process involving a lot of derived data.
  3. #1 and #2 conflated/combined. This is roughly equivalent to saying that iterative analytics refers to all of to investigative analytics, sometimes known instead as exploratory analytics.

Based both on my personal conversations and a quick Google check, it’s reasonable to say #1 and #3 seem to be the most common usages, with #2 trailing a little bit behind.

But often it’s hard to be sure which of the various possible meanings somebody has in mind.

Related links

Monash’s First and Third Laws of Commercial Semantics state:


3 Responses to “What is meant by “iterative analytics””

  1. kandakuru sreenivasulu on October 15th, 2012 5:02 pm

    super piece of analysis

  2. Thomas W Dinsmore on October 16th, 2012 7:52 am

    Couple points:

    (1) It’s hard to find an example of analytics in the real world that is NOT iterative

    (2) I don’t see anyone trying to commercialize this.

  3. Curt Monash on October 16th, 2012 4:21 pm


    What’s the “this” you don’t see being commercialized? As I see it, people have taken multiple real trends and slapped the label “iterative analytics” on all of them.

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