Dashboards and Data Viz

Business Data

Now you see it, now you don’t. Scientists are getting closer to the Romulan’s cloaking device portrayed in Star Trek. This ultra-thin invisibility cloak is made of microscopic rectangular gold blocks that, like skin, conform to the shape of an object and can render it undetectable with visible light. Similarly it seems, many business intelligence (BI) vendors have essentially built cloaking devices into their offering, making many business data elements invisible to users.

Just the word “cube”, when it relates to data, sends chills down my back. I become frightened when people speak of ETL applications that may even come from another planet. With data warehousing, data marts and data mining, I need a pick and shovel just to get to the data. All the disparate data sources lack a consistent structure, causing chaos to run the business.

But what if you could mix it all together? For instance, I love my blender at home. I put in fruits, vegetables, nuts and yogurt to create a delicious smoothie. This same concept can be applied for disparate data sources. I can now bring in my business data from Excel, SQL, flat files, Oracle and blend it together in order to make a smooth data framework where I can point various applications to create business intelligence for the organization. This mixture is not only healthy for an organization, but your systems and production environments will find it more palatable not to mention bypassing the expense of a DBA.

Read next: The Data Analyst’s Secret Weapon

BIG DATA is overstating all the small pieces of data that actually have value within. We’ve all heard that big things come in small packages, but arguing if one’s data is bigger than another’s data doesn’t matter. It’s what one does with one’s data that speaks to the expanse and breadth of what the data is worth. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

What are you doing with your business data? Are you serving the analyst or the organization? If not the organization, you need to rethink your purpose. The business should not be bogged down by getting the data out of the vault. Instead, it should focus on the performance of people, processes, programs, and the trends that dictate either corrective action or additional focus. This can easily be achieved with a dashboard visualization tool which is on the front end of the BI ecosystem. There are many flavors of dashboard solutions, some which we will not mention that are cleverly disguised and pretend to serve a dashboard purpose, but are solely based on reporting or analytics. As Gordon Gekko stated in the movie Wall Street, “The most valuable commodity I know is information.” If he only had quicker access to that information, the plot could have changed drastically. That is how a proper dashboard avails to the business user.

Buyer Beware – if the real goal is to serve the business user, make sure you perform your due diligence. Remember the informational needs of the many, most certainly outweigh the data analytical needs of the few. Bottom line – any front end dashboard solution is still reliant on how you manage your data. So manage your data well and your organization will prosper!


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