Research & Resources

Business Intelligence in the age of Analytics and Artificial Intelligence
July 8, 2019

ADVANCE TO INTELLIGENT DECISIONMAKING

Jonathan Bach & Arvind Handuu

LET US START WITH GETTING THE BASICS OUT OF THE WAY

– DATA IS NOT THE NEW OIL, IMPORTANT, YES BUT BUSINESS IS ABOUT DOING BASICS RIGHT,

– ALL BUSINESSES ARE NOT INFORMATION BUSINESSES,

– ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOT INTELLIGENCE, JUST BEST GUESS

– DATA BY ITSELF AND DEVOID OF THE CONTEXT IS WORTHLESS

These days, one cannot pick any trade publication and not notice a convergence on dia del sabor, namely Analytics and its ‘on-steroids version’ Artificial Intelligence (AI). The collective wisdom points to the efficacy of data utilization to transform the business. Many of our clients have gone through this stage of data envy. Some continue to allocate disproportionate scarce resource of time and treasure to “monetize their data”.

Like all gold rush stories, this one is fraught with peril. The primary reason appears to be the significance attached to the technology as opposed to the business objectives. We’ve seen this before with corporations jumping from one tool to another in hopes that the next tool will be the one to save the initiative, company or the project. The problem is in training, or lack thereof, of the training in the organizations to ask the right question. In this, the question becomes the answer.

The goal, it appears, is to replace or at least augment an organizations intuition and experience-based decision making with an element of data centricity to avoid missteps and to shine a spotlight on certain blind spots. The data centricity assumes a level of Data availability and education or without this any further progress is impossible. We propose a following step approach to help clients adequately optimize the operations and leverage data assets where possible and necessary.

Automate and Optimize – most businesses have implemented some level of automation, some more than others, the starting point is that. Before one begins any large-scale transformation, challenge what is already implemented. Even if it is nothing more than a general ledger at this time. This is a foundational step to transforming a company. The key watchword in this stage is flexible and adaptable. Know that what we build here will need to be changed and rebuilt. The automation platform should be flexible and adaptable.

Digital from the outset – This is an appropriate analytical step in the organization’s life cycle, as the model should be to think innovatively about key aspects of the business. The approach here is to develop transformative competencies that have a potential to be disruptive, think Uber to Taxis, Airbnb to hotels and also operations transparency. In this stage the company starts to build data competencies.

Value creation – with the core of data collection in place, the organization may launch the build stage of analytics framework. The organization decides to make key data available to executives for informing tactical decisions and strategic choices. The key success factors in this process are:

Analytics Evangelist – an organization needs to allocate a role of developing data insights and educating line managers on the possibilities of data analysis

Speed to deliver – Time kills energy, this is true in physics as it is in companies. The organization should have the necessary strategy in place to make the results of analytics available to the managers within on a few days of demand

Keep it simple – an organization must simplify the learning and deployment of analytics by reducing rework. Its often helpful to choose technology that offer a consolidated BI and analytics approach.

Adopt and adapt – Reduce human variability – The weakness of the data driven decision-making is often in ignoring the human factors in adoption:

Education- Implement programs to drive overall data competency in an organization

Build Momentum through ease of access, make it easier for executives to get analytical answers

Implement and measure the use of analytical elements in the corporate choice selection

Reward the utilization of analytical tools

New applications – Encourage the use of analysis, by promoting new applications and new analysis. Share and promote.

Critique – Set periodic review points to analyze the decisions made and supported by hard measured data as well as decisions made without the adequate data. Compare outcomes.

Educate and Evolve – Business Intelligence and Analytics is a high ROI and can be implemented very cost effectively. The organization needs to ensure a steady process of training the users about new data and analysis being made available and effective strategies for utilization

In the end, Data can be a very effective tool available to the decisionmakers in an organization, the power of data becomes available to the organization as more investments are made in development of human capital to ask the right questions of the business. Features in modern BI and Analytical Tools can help users overcome delays and difficulties by automating aspects of data exploration and analytics development and delivering information answers and recommendations to users in the context in which they need it.


Jonathan Bach is a Client Solutions Partner at Visvero, Inc. He works closely with various F2000 clients in optimizing the use of professional services for “ADVANCE”; ing along the BI/ Analytics path. Jon is based out of the Visvero, Pittsburgh.

 

Arvind Handuu is a Practice Manager for Business Intelligence & Analytics at Visvero. Arvind is an analytics value purist. He believes that a BI & Analytics platform should be a self-contained and sovereign solution. “Its value drops to zero the instant you are using a different data source to inform your decision.”; Arvind is based out of Visvero, Pittsburgh.

READ MORE
TABLEAU 8 IS HERE: A QUICK REVIEW OF MY FAVORITE FEATURES.
May 29, 2018

When you say Business Intelligence it often conjures up different visions. For example, when I tell people I work in BI, I get reactions ranging from blank stares to “Oh…so computer stuff,” to my personal favorite, my barber asking if that meant corporate espionage. While I do like to entertain the image of myself as a slightly geeky (and perhaps less fit) James Bond, it probably isn’t what most people think of when they think of working in Business Intelligence.

My bet would be that the image in most people’s minds is probably a visual of an analytic dashboard. Dashboards, after all, are the face of Business Intelligence. The software that enables us to convert raw data into dashboards is crucial to enabling business users to consume information in a user-friendly form and then take that information and make informed business decisions. It’s all about taking data and telling the story in a meaningful, actionable way. With the release of Tableau 8, one of the leading BI vendors is upping their game.

Tableau Software is rated as one of the leaders in BI vendors according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms and this past March they celebrated the release of their best version yet. I’ve had exposure to lot of different BI visualization tools over the years and Tableau is definitely one of my favorites. The tools they provide are easy to use, intuitive, and powerful. This allows for rapid development and deployment of interactive dashboards. These dashboards give the data context and help make it meaningful to the end user.

While Tableau 8 is jam-packed with new features, I wanted to concentrate on just a few of my favorites.

Forecasting

Visvero is consistently reminding our clients that business intelligence is all about finding the stories hidden with the data. All data has a story to tell, but without help it can be difficult to understand what that story is. Giving the proper context to raw numbers allows us to look at historical data and understand the story so far. However, like that ever frustrating cliffhanger ending or “to be continued…” notation after an enthralling TV show, we are always nagged by the curiosity of what comes next. What is the next chapter in our story?

In the business world this isn’t just a nagging curiosity. Many times it comes down to the difference between success and failure. Without the ability to intelligently look to the future and anticipate the demands of tomorrow, you are endangering the future of your business. It’s no wonder then that being able to forecast data (predictive analytics) is one of the most popular demands for BI solutions. In Tableau 8 it is about as easy as it gets. Simply, with a few mouse clicks, you can add a forecast in seconds, and easily tweak your forecasting model to suit your needs.

New Visualizations

Of course, one of the biggest parts of any business intelligence tool is what visualizations it can create. In Tableau 8, the visualizations are diverse and very informational. New options like word clouds and bubble maps are great additions. However, my personal favorite is the tree-map. Not only are tree-maps great chart types for giving context, the way Tableau handles tree-maps allows for bar charts of tree-maps. This combination can be a powerful way to show relative proportions across categories in a beautifully simplistic way. It’s easily, in my opinion, one of the most powerful of the new view types.

In addition, Tableau 8 now supports overlapping objects on your dashboard. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with visualization tools can tell you, arranging the design and layout of a dashboard can often be a very tedious and frustrating task; especially when trying to make the most of your screen real estate. Tableau 8 makes laying out the dashboard nearly hassle-free by enabling you to overlap visualizations. This empowers you to make more efficient use of screen space and easily mold your layout to your needs.

Visual Grouping / Set Improvements

The concept of groups and sets are nothing new to Tableau, but with version 8 they’ve been shined up and improved. Grouping can now be done visually and on the fly as you select objects in your view. Those groups are quickly color-coded to “paint” pre-defined selections to help guide the user. The sets functionality has also been streamlined and improved to allow for more advanced set comparisons. This gives you more analytic power than ever before. Pairing dynamic calculated sets with painting using visual grouping makes Tableau 8 even more powerful as an in-depth analysis tool.

Subscriptions

Building the best dashboard in the world isn’t going to be of any use if the users who need them aren’t even looking at them. We all know that often management is busy in meetings and completely forget to review their reports before heading to the next one. That’s where the new subscription feature in Tableau 8 comes to the rescue. This feature allows users to subscribe to one or more worksheets and get scheduled emails with images of your selected worksheets along with links to the live reports at your fingertips.

Tableau is always pushing the limits, and their new version is certainly packed with features to be explored and used. Check out their website for a more in depth look at the new tool, and try to catch the Tableau team on tour to see more of what Tableau has to offer! These are just a few of the new features in Tableau 8, but they are some of the features I am personally excited to see and use in my own projects. What features are you excited to try out in the new release? Let me know below in the comments.

READ MORE