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The Emerging Importance Of Data Visualization (Part 2 of 2)

by Lyndsay Wise, President, WiseAnalyticsWednesday, November 05, 2008

Part 1 of this article focused on the general importance of data visualization and the fact that organizations are looking to best-of-breed applications to deliver their front-end business intelligence solutions.  This second and final part looks at the importance of various aspects of data visualization and its future role within business intelligence.

The popularity of business intelligence, without a doubt, is on the rise.  With expanded solutions that target mid-market companies, hosted solutions that enable organizations to have BI delivered as a service, and that provide best-of-breed embedded analytics, organizations have flexibility that never existed a couple of years ago.  With this added diversity of offerings come increased demand for ease-of-use, quick deployments, and lower price points. Consequently, organizations are now able to access business intelligence and use data visualization as an entry point to in-depth analytics. 

What Can Be Achieved Through Using Visualization

Data visualization has many applications within business intelligence.  On the surface, tools such as dashboards and scorecards provide the bridge to deeper analysis as well as a bird’s eye view of what is happening within the organization.  A common example exists within sales departments to identify how sales staff measure up to targets and to identify any discrepancies that may exist within the targets set.  Additionally, organizations can determine success factors for products and/or services and identify which strategies are working and which ones should be revised.

This type of data visualization represents the entry point into a wider world of the benefits of data visualization.  Although the key purpose is to monitor metrics (KPIs) and to provide a front-end tool that acts as a first point of contact, this first point of contact helps BI reposition itself as a user-friendly tool.  Whether organizations are using embedded analytics on top of their operational solutions or sales and marketing dashboards, the fact remains the same – the use of data visualization directly affects the expansion of BI within the organization.

Organizations no longer need a super user to analyze OLAP cubes.  Decision makers can look at how they are performing against set targets, whether projects are meeting those targets, and how individual and departmental goals match the overall performance of the organization. In a sense, data visualization tools are becoming the face of business intelligence. These tools and various applications let decision makers slice and dice information in multiple ways to gain insights that that would otherwise be impossible to glean. Add this to the fact that these insights can be delivered visually and the attraction of these solutions expands.  After all, a manager is more likely to develop forecast scenarios if the only activity required is moving a gauge.

The Future Of The Data Visualization Craze

As the adoption of BI expands towards enterprise-wide deployments and small and mid-sized companies, the use of data visualization tools will expand. Not only is data visualization the entry point to BI, but organizations can forecast and create what-if analyses to identify what needs to occur to help increase profits and plan for future product and service success.

With impending continual financial upheaval, the importance of managing performance through scorecards and dashboards will only increase.  Even though organizations will be forced to tighten their belts and reduce spending, the reality remains that the only way to decrease expenses while maintaining revenues is by analyzing performance within the organization and how that relates to a company’s management of resources, expenditures, etc.

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Discussion:

Wayne Morris said:

Lyndsay
Great post. I agree with the comments and believe that ease-of-use is the biggest factor in ensuring widespread adoption of BI. Combining Web 2.0 capabilities with search, collaboration, real-time data update and easy-to-use analytics delivers tremendous value directly to decision makers. Deliver this cost-effectively via a SaaS model and widespread adoption is also affordable.
Wayne Morris, myDIALS Inc.

Lyndsay Wise said:

Wayne,
Thanks for your comments. Now with a more diverse range of solutions available as well as organizations that have implemented a variety of approaches, BI can be adopted across the organization in a way that is easy to use and cost effective. And like you say, SaaS is also a great model to consider.
Lyndsay Wise

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