Visual Data Discovery for a Competitive Advantage

This is Part 4 of a series on analytics which will appear each week on The TIBCO blog. You can read Part 1Isolate Problems and Use Analytics to Solve ThemPart 2Data Visualization Saves Timeand Part 3Moving Beyond Excel: It’s Not a Breakup, but a Breakthrough.

Many companies know the vast volumes of data they capture about their businesses—combined with the reams of data consumers are generating—can yield insights to create new revenue streams and bolster the bottom line. But the technology landscape to exploit Big Data can be confusing. For example, what is the difference between data discovery and data visualization?

Data Discovery Limits User Interaction with Information

Data discovery is “the discovery of relationships between data elements, regardless of where the data is stored,” according to Bloor Research.

Jaime Fitzgerald—author, founder, and managing partner of data analytics consultancy Fitzgerald Analytics—expands upon data discovery in a recent blog post. He contends that the term data discovery is different, depending on the context of the use cases where it is applied.

“For example, if you work in data management and quality, your data discovery is focused on discovering key metadata about core data assets,” he notes. “You are focused on profiling data completeness, data quality, consistency and provenance. On the other hand, if you are a marketing scientist focused on predictive analytics, you see data discovery as a tool for trend identification, campaign analysis, and possibly model refinement or self-service reporting and business intelligence tools for the chief marketing officer.”

After data is discovered, it can be presented to users in various ways including managed reporting, dashboards, and visual data discovery (visualization), according to a recent research report by Aberdeen Group.

With managed reporting, information is often displayed to users as tables or charts; interaction is typically limited or does not exist. Dashboards present information numerically and graphically, and users can interact with data. IT usually designs the dashboards for users, according to Aberdeen.

Users Interact Directly with Data Visualization Tools

Data visualization is a “rich, highly interactive, visual tool that allows users to manipulate and interact with information directly,” Aberdeen notes. While IT is involved in this method, the business owners are typically responsible for creating and accessing different views of the data.

Organizations using visual data discovery are more likely to find the information they need, when they need it, according to Aberdeen’s May 2013 survey of organizations using visual data discovery and those that were not. The survey found that managers in organizations using visual discovery tools are 28% more likely to find timely information than their peers who solely use managed reporting and dashboards. “This is fundamental, providing a real opportunity to gain competitive advantage,” the report notes. “When visual data discovery tools are used as part of a BI portfolio, almost one-third more business decisions can be based on facts, not gut feel.”

Additional findings from the survey include the following:

  • Those firms using visual data discovery are able to get analytics into the hands of 48% more employees, compared to those companies that depend on other tools for business intelligence.
  • At companies using visual discovery tools, 48% of business intelligence users are able to find the information they need without the help of IT staff, all or most of the time.
  • When visual data discovery is not used, 23% of BI users can find the information they need all or most of the time without IT.
  • Firms that use data discovery tools are able to support 449 analytics users for every full-time equivalent employee with IT skills, while companies not using visualization tools can only support 248 analytics users for every IT employee.
  • Half the organizations using visualization tools say that they could easily access the potential of new data sources for analytics; only 8% of companies using managed reporting and dashboards report the same.

“Where visual data discovery is used, managers that consume BI content are over twice as likely as their peers to interact extensively with the information presented to them,” the report notes. “That interaction enables those managers to find answers to unexpected questions that arise through the day-to-day turmoil that is business as usual for most companies.”

For 30 days, see how data discovery works on Spotfire and find how this impacts your business.