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Look, But Don't Touch! The Gap Between Data Visualization & Data Discovery!
Posted: Oct 21, 2016
At some point in your life, you have probably been told to 'look, but don't touch.' When it comes to business intelligence, the flaw in the logic of solution design often subjects business users to this same philosophy. With most BI tools (even those we call 'self-serve'), we limit the users to looking but we don't allow them to touch and manipulate the data for deep dive analysis.
Let's look at the data analysis environment provided to business users by most popular business intelligence tools. These tools give design and development access to developers and business analysts who then create packaged dashboards used by business users for data visualization, with restricted access to drill down and filtering.
While it is certainly true that Dion, the Sales Manager will want to see reports that tell him whether his team members are reaching their goals for the month, he may also want to explore and analyze the problem of slumping sales in the Western region. He might want to consider the value and timing of training programs and how they impact sales conversions. But, if he is using a packaged dashboard, he can't drag and drop to add columns of data, or add data from other systems. He can't create personalized alerts to tell him when thresholds have been met or exceeded. What if he wants to import data from other sources or perform ad hoc manipulation of his own data? What if he wants to change data operations and views? Why would a business want to frustrate its business users? Your users have a very important goal in common with the organization and that is to succeed. If they do their job well, they are a real asset to the company and your business will grow in the bargain.
To accomplish this common goal, you need to move beyond data visualization and bridge the gap to get to true data discovery and deep dive analysis. But, how can you do that when many of the current BI tools provide two different tools to satisfy dashboard requirements and data discovery? These tools are targeted to two different user types: 1) those who consume information and 2) those who analyze data and then create and produce information to advance knowledge and growth. The problem is that your business users need to consume AND create, if they are to be empowered and held accountable for results.
Desktop-based BI tools provided by these popular BI tools are primarily used by developers and analysts for data discovery, while their browser based dashboards are used for information consumption by business users. This segmentation of tools and solutions is very restricting for business users who are limited to static dashboards and views. In other words, 'look, but don't touch'. True self-serve BI tools like ElegantJ BI, offer business users the ability to consume and create because they allow for deep dive analysis. Business users can combine data, find the root cause of a problem, identify an opportunity, a trend or pattern and test strategies and theories with simple, sophisticated analytical tools that provide graphical views and personalized ad-hoc reporting options.BI tools must allow users to quickly view data displays in a dashboards and then dive into data discovery and analysis (all in the same environment). Without these flexible, accessible tools, business users are reduced to the old, frustrating, 'look, but don't touch' scenario, and that isn't good for anyone!
Source - Look, But Don't Touch! The Gap Between Data Visualization & Data Discovery!
Sahil Patel is an engineer and project manager at Elegant MicroWeb, involved with project management and services delivery. An excellent problem solver with architectural and hands on programming skills on Microsoft platforms, Linux, PHP frameworks,