|By Saar Bitner||
|May 5, 2014 09:45 AM EDT||
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.
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 8, 2016 08:00 PM EST Reads: 131
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software 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. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 8, 2016 03:00 PM EST Reads: 574
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 8, 2016 03:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, 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. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 8, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 378
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 8, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 357
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 8, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 145
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze 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, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 8, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 384
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 8, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 159
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 7, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 358
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 clou...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 739
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 799
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 417
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.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 862
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 952
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 738
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 WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,159
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,231
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 825
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 799
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,284