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Two types of data visualization offerings

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Earlier this week I had an analyst briefing with AVS (Advanced Visual Systems) to learn about their OpenViz solution offering.  Basically, AVS offers customers analysis through building visual applications based on the principles of data visualization.  Some applications mirror typical dashboard solutions, while others represent real-time process flows and the monitoring of business efficiencies. Overall, based on the vendor offerings in the market, this shows that the dashboard market moves in two directions. The first being the developer intensive data visualization solutions and the second being off-the-shelf consumer dashboards.

Either way, although the industry is moving in the direction of ease of use and high levels of interoperability through consumer-oriented dashboard delivery, there is still a large demand for customized solutions that incorporate a build your own approach to dashboard design. These two approaches end up giving organizations looking for data visualization solutions different ways of developing these solutions.

Developer centric dashboards – choosing to build a data visualization solution

In general, businesses with strong IT infrastructures and with a business intelligence solution in-house, may want to look at building their own dashboard solution to take advantage of the analytics they are already using.  Solutions such as Corda, Dundas, AVS, open source BI, etc. all provide offerings that can be developed, customized and managed in-house by IT developers. These solutions are then delivered to end-users and managed by the IT department.   Their ease of use and interoperability will depend upon how they were developed, the goal of use in mind, and the requirements gathered – not only about the purpose, but about the level of familiarity with technology and BI use.

Consumer dashboards – buying a consumer oriented dashboard

Consumer dashboards are generally offered by solution providers and give users 80% of the required functionality out-of-the-box.  Whether managed by the IT department or within the scope of individual department or business function requirements, these solutions usually provide a quick time to implement in comparison to the internal development process, and target ease of use and end user customization.  In many cases, first time users of dashboards find comfort in the fact that most of the work is done for them without having to worry about the design or effectiveness of the data visualization solution.

Build versus buy

The debate about which type of dashboard or data visualization application is best, actually overlooks the real question at hand.  Deciding whether to buy a consumer-facing dashboard or to build an application in-house always depends upon the current BI infrastructure and environment, IT resources available to build and manage a solution, the business requirements, and overall agility of the organization.  Starting with these factors, a business looking to implement a data visualization solution can decide which approach best suits their business model and long term goals.

About the Author

Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.

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