A growing number of business users are taking ownership of business intelligence, relying less on IT and creating more of their own reports and dashboards in a self-service approach, according to a recent report by the Aberdeen Group.
Certainly one of the drivers for the DIY approach is that the data that’s presented in traditional BI reports and dashboards often invites more questions and deeper analysis, notes Aberdeen Group analyst Michael Lock.
“Business users always want to understand the data behind the data,” says Lock. “If a monthly sales figure is low, which reps or regions are underperforming?”
The most effective way to help business users understand the data behind the data is by making it visual for them.
As Jamie Yap notes in a recent article for ZDNet, the growing complexity associated with the data that companies are collecting, coupled with the desire among a growing number of business users to access these insights, have heightened the need for data analysis tools to have intuitive visual interfaces.
And data visualization tools need to become more interactive, extending beyond lines, bars, and pie charts, notes Bhavish Sood, a Gartner research director, in the article.
As one of the industry-renowned data visualization experts, Edward Tufte, has said, “The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; the paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?”
Tufte brings up an excellent point: given the volume of information that’s pouring into the enterprise from so many disparate sources, knowledge workers need to be able to visualize information in order to analyze it and extrapolate insights effectively.
When business users can visualize information, they’re able to process it more effectively and make faster and better decisions, according to the Aberdeen research.
“Best-in-class companies recognize that driving adoption and engagement is predicated on delivering solutions that are easy to use, visually intuitive, and relevant to specific job roles,” Lock notes.
One industry where data visualization capabilities offer enormous opportunities to business users is in life sciences where analysis around drug development, market research, and other factors play a vital role in the creation of blockbuster medicines.
As we’ve pointed out, big data points exist in the millions for companies in this growing industry. And the need to aggregate and visualize all of that structured and unstructured data is crucial to life science companies looking to derive value from this previously untapped data.
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