It is about integrating external data sources in your data warehouse, and leveraging this data to answer questions such as "why are we losing so many users last month" or "why do we have so few new users recently", or "what new product / feature should I produce". The answer (and the cure) might not come from within your internal data, but from the outside:
- what are my competitors up to?
- what do my clients / employees write on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere?
The external data in question can be gathered and analyzed using web crawling and text mining techniques, or surveys - to automatically find out and summarize what is being said about your company... and about your competitors. Combined with internal data, it could answer critical business questions.
In my opinion, the potential in properly exploiting external data far exceeds results that you could get from improved software (cloud, analytics as a service, hidden decision trees etc.) I believe the future of analytics is more about finding relevant data (and identifying the right metrics - this is absolutely critical and I will discuss it later), than software improvements.