Data analytics, business intelligence and data visualisation are ever increasing phrases used in today’s business software landscape. Any organisation running a core business system knows that there is value in reporting across their data, but gaining true value from these systems and their output can be easier said than done. Historically, complex reporting and business intelligence has been managed and delivered by technically minded people rather than business minded people or business leaders. Today, data visualisation has opened up the business intelligence space to nearly everyone with a PC and access to meaningful data. Tools such as Tableau are easy to adopt and have a smaller learning curve which allows for self service business intelligence and data discovery.
Visual Is Natural
Humans are very visual in nature, it is one of our core senses. Viewing something pleasing to the eye brings about positive feelings and curiosity. This is true for traditional art mediums but also for business data visualisations. Just because the content may be more serious in nature does not mean that it has to be boring.
Using a visualisation tool to represent important data allows you to connect with what you are seeing and encourages you to ask the right questions and explore the answers that the data provides. A traditional transactional report consisting of thousands of rows of data which all looks the same can be represented in a single dashboard and can instantly provide insight at first glance.
True value will be driven from data analytics when the analytical process is flexible and readily available. A modern self service BI tool should allow end users to rapidly visualise data and discover critical information easily.
Taking the analytical process away from IT departments and put into the hands of business people drives faster, more insightful analytics. Having dashboards that are interactive and allow parameterised changes are an excellent way to allow users to engage with the data and drive their own discovery process. Deployment options for visual analytics are also an important consideration. Can you access the visualisations from anywhere? Can they be viewed from a mobile device?
As an example I have embedded a Tableau dashboard in this blog post, a great example of a flexible deployment option.
Foster and Embrace
The self-service business intelligence movement is continually gaining momentum. Businesses should embrace the concept of self-service BI and empower their teams to drive value and insights through their business data. Using tools such as Tableau can start with a single dashboard license and a few simple dashboards and grow into the business from there. Data visualisation is not the only answer to the business data puzzle and it can be a quick and relatively painless entry point to a complete analytical process.