Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Mihai Corbuleac, Pat Romanski, David Bermingham, Steven Mandel

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
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...