Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Jnan Dash, Andreas Grabner, Lori MacVittie, Jim Kaskade

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, Agile Computing

@BigDataExpo: Article

A Tale of BI – What Data Visualization Can Tell You about Your Business

Data visualization can help you discover trends, patterns and correlations in your businesses that might otherwise go unseen

You've heard the great promise of business intelligence: data visualization will completely change the way you think about your business. We strive for those life-altering "aha" moments that completely shift the way we think, and help move us forward in a way we just couldn't before due to a lack of knowledge, clarity or inspiration. But how can data visualization promise to give us more of those moments?

Data visualization, the graphical representation of data and information, can help you discover trends, patterns and correlations in your businesses that might otherwise go unseen. It makes meaningful insights easier to spot, epiphanies more common to come by, and helps you create a business story that you can use as a springboard for smart change and success.

Seeing with Kaleidoscope Eyes
Taking large amounts of data and putting it into a business analysis system is like taking a measuring stick to your business - you will start seeing with clearer, richer eyes, simplifying otherwise complex data, mapping correlations, and detecting trends. Organizing your data visually this way will give you an overall picture of your business procedures and let you drill down into specific areas of interest to explore deeper. Data visualization comes with core benefits that will help tell a story about your business:

  • Gain a business strategy based on numbers. Track sales, number of units sold, followers, site visits and compare data week over week, or quarter by quarter (see Example 1).
  • Insight into your target market. Analyze your customer's survey data, website behavior, or demographics to glean who they are, their occupations, gender, location, hours of activity, etc. (see Example 2).
  • Make users a part of your story. By helping users understand the benefit of your solution, you encourage them to tell you what they need most from your business (see Example 3).
  • Know what's trendy. Detect and capitalize on trends and outliers that you can't readily identify in spreadsheets to pinpoint what's influencing business success or failure.

Real People, Real "Aha Moments"
The list of core benefits that helps businesses build a story is general, but here are some specific examples of companies that used data visualization to tell a story - or understand their story - thereby transforming what they do and how they do it.

Example 1: Know Your Numbers from Every Angle
Alpharooms.com is one of the UK and Ireland's leading websites for discount worldwide travel with one million annual customers accessing hotel rooms in more than 250,000 hotels in 40,000 destinations worldwide. The company needed to track web behaviors, email marketing activity, booking patterns, and their finances - and he needed it in real time to be able to change prices and availability as quick as possible to maximize their services. Alpharooms.com uses a dashboard visualization software to build reports and dashboards that analyze booking activity from every angle. With efficient reporting around each type of booking (hotel, flight, car, etc.), they can now directly approach hotels for which they have enough bookings to avoid the extra cost of going through wholesalers.

Other uses of the software include analyzing website usage patterns, optimizing email marketing campaign performance, optimizing purchasing strategies, tracking call center performance and conversions by rep and running reports on all customer activity by search keywords, travel destination, common packages and so forth.

Example 2: See Where Your Target Audience Lives. Literally
The New York Times has jumped on board with data visualization and created an interactive, incredibly thorough census maps that shows the demographics of every block and city in America based on race and ethnicity, income, education, and housing and families. Plug in your business and these demographics let you truly know your market segment so you can build the best business plan possible.

Discover if a target population is wealthy enough or educated enough to be interested in your product (or just the opposite) before you move forward. By researching and understanding the demographics of a particular population, business owners can successfully establish a business model and plan, expand a product line, or outcompete their competitors.

Example 3: Encourage Users to Visualize Themselves as Part of Your Story
Just through data visualization you can enable users to envision themselves as part of your story and thereby show you how they best fit with your product - telling you their own story about your company as they go. The BCG and World Economic Forum encouraged users to estimate the value of a specific solution to their business - instituting an employee wellness program - via an interactive graph. Executives could quickly calculate how much their specific companies could save by investing in such an employee wellness program (based on the statistical data of other companies' wellness programs).

By letting prospective customers determine the economic benefits they could harvest if they instituted the program, these companies literally saw themselves as a part of the story that the BCG and World Economic Forum were trying to push. Those who bought based on participating in the interactive graph in turn gave BCG and World Economic Forum information about their users and became an invaluable sales tool for the business. It was such a great success that another partner company also uses this graph as a sales tool for visualizing similar saving opportunities.

Collaboration Always Means a Better, Richer Story
Sharing your data visualization, which many dashboard visualization tools make easy via web-based dashboards, allows your colleagues or audience to fill in details or even add their own narrative. Every department in a company can build upon the data visualization story by contributing data or drilling down into a specific segment and highlighting an aspect that is unique to them. In this way, interactive graphics encourage people to participate in the storytelling by adding layers of data and insights - giving your BI tale the ability to view data from different perspectives for a richer understanding of your business.

The Future of Data Visualization: Reaching What No One Knows
We're already at a place where we can use data visualization to make people understand what they didn't understand. The next step seems to be to allow people to understand what no one has understood before. When Pek Lum, a researcher at Merck & Co., took The Netherlands Cancer Institute's 12-year-old data set on breast cancer and visualized the dataset with the use of topological data analysis, she was able to identify an unknown subgroup of cancer survivors - a small step forward to finding a cure for cancer.

Together with the massive amount of data accessible (and accumulating), the collaboration of many individuals who have different goals and backgrounds, and advanced business intelligence and dashboard software tools available on the market today - people are starting to uncover insights that no one could reach before.

More Stories By Saar Bitner

Saar Bitner is the VP of Marketing at SiSense, the award-winning business analytics software that lets non-techies easily analyze and visualize big data sets from multiple sources.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.