This post discusses the importance of report consumers being empowered to do their own data discovery and authoring of advanced visualizations versus relying on separate report authors to do this work for them. IBM Product Marketing Manager, Michael Sauceda, humorously discusses this while introducing solutions in the IBM portfolio that address these needs.
People who know me know that I tend to memorize movie quotes. Not sure how it happens, but I can watch a movie for the first time and somehow commit several key scenes to memory. One example is the Coen brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? It’s an amazing movie with excellent dialogue and great comedic timing between the characters.
While looking over some visualization related content, this movie kept popping into my head. I think a lot of it has to do with the long-held relationship between report writers and report consumers. In a nutshell, report writers and report consumers both think the other one just doesn't get it. This is the part where I add in a (paraphrased) quote from the movie to prove my point. For the purposes of this blog I’ll use report writer (RW) and report consumer (RC) as character names…
RC: Wait a minute. Who elected you leader of this outfit?
RW: Well, I figured it should be the one with the capacity for abstract thought. But if that ain't the consensus view, then, let's put it to a vote.
When you look at someone else’s work, sometimes things just don’t make sense. This leads to confusion and inaction instead of quick, decisive business decisions. When critical decisions are at stake, you need to leverage all of your available, relevant data. Using only part of your data, or drawing inaccurate conclusions from it, can be disastrous.
Relying on others to visualize your data can also result in information bottlenecks and delays. For example, you finally receive a report that you’ve been waiting for, only to discover it is missing a key piece of information you needed. You then waste previous time requesting your IT department to rerun the report with the data you need.
RC: Hold on, I don't want this pomade. I want Dapper Dan.
RW: I don't carry Dapper Dan, I carry Fop.
RC: Well, I don't want Fop. I'm a Dapper Dan man!
RW: Now if you want Dapper Dan, I can order it for you, have it in a couple of weeks.
RC: Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!
If you’ve struggled with these challenges, the good news is that there are new reporting tools designed to help line of business users like you get involved in data discovery and visualization, and ultimately play a bigger role in business decisions. IBM offers a portfolio of new easy-to-use solutions that put advanced visualization capabilities in the hands of business users. Just look at IBM’s Business Intelligence, Performance Management and Predictive Analytics product portfolios, and you’ll see that many of these products now include advanced visualization capabilities to empower traditional report consumers to become more involved—much to the benefit of their organizations.
I’ll leave you with a paraphrased quote from the wise blind seer…
Blind Seer: You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first... first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril. Mm-hmm. You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell…. I cannot tell you how long this road shall be, but fear not the obstacles in your path, for fate has vouched for your reward. Though the road may wind, yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation.
If you take one thing away from this post, it should be that visualization is the exciting part of an analytics-driven organization. It unlocks the insights that analytics technology helps us discover, and enables these insights to be shared with and consumed by everyone.
Explore advanced visualization resources and visit the AnalyticsZone to access free tools you can start using now to create your own compelling reports and visualizations.
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