Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Sematext Blog, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Big Data Journal, Java, SOA & WOA, .NET, Linux, Web 2.0

Big Data Journal: 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.


@BigDataExpo Stories
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by minin...
Can the spatial component of your Big Data be harnessed and visualized, adding another dimension of power and analytics to your data? In his session at Big Data Expo®, John Meza, Product Engineer and Performance Engineering Team Lead at Esri, discussed the spatial queries that can be used within the Hadoop ecosystem and their integration with GeoSpatial applications. The GIS Tools for Hadoop project was also discussed and its implementation to discover location-based patterns and relationships...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Software AG and Wipro Ltd. have announced a joint solution platform for streaming analytics that provides real-time actionable intelligence for the Internet of Things (IoT) market. “The key to successfully addressing the IoT market is the ability to rapidly build and evolve apps that tap into, analyze and make smart decisions on fast, big data”, said John Bates, Global Head of Industry Solutions and CMO, Software AG. To address the huge market potential created by streaming analytics in conj...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise be...
DevOps means different things to different people. Qubell defines DevOps as the ability for the developer teams to do what they need to do to have this level of self-service. At DevOps Summit, Stan Klimoff, CTO of Qubell, demos the enterprise DevOps platform.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Events announced today that that Innodisk, the service-driven provider of industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products and technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Innodisk is a service-driven provider of industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products and technologies. With satisfied customers across the embedded, aerospace and defense, cloud storage markets an...
Eighty-five percent of companies store information in some sort of unstructured manner. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Fronczak, Product Manager at Solgenia, discussed their enterprise content management solution, which was created to help companies organize and take control of their digital assets.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

The adoption of the Internet Of Things (IoT) is growing and its growth is synonymous with the growth of cloud. As per predictions from IDC: IoT and the Cloud: Within the next five years, more than 90% of all IoT data will be hosted on service provider platforms as cloud computing reduces the complexity of supporting IoT "Data Blending." This means that any organization that wanted to transform themselves using IoT has to automatically embrace the cloud too, especially the public cloud. This b...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core...
NuoDB just introduced the Swifts 2.1 Release. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc., discussed why scaling databases in the cloud is challenging, why building your application on top of the infrastructure that is designed with this in mind makes a difference, and what you can do with NuoDB that simplifies your programming model, your operations model.
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session a...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
“We are a managed services company. We have taken the key aspects of the cloud and the purposed data center and merged the two together and launched the Purposed Cloud about 18–24 months ago," explained Chetan Patwardhan, CEO of Stratogent, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...