Guest post from Charith Acharya, Product Marketing Manager, IBM Business Analytics
Even though it’s been ages, I vividly remember my father taking me to see the movie “MacKenna’s Gold” with Omar Sharif and Gregory Peck. The movie was brilliant, an absolute western classic that introduced me to something that we all use very frequently today.
If you have seen the movie and can recollect – the entire movie is based on a gold hunt. The gold guarded by Apache spirits and the only way to find the treasure was with a single map that had been burnt by Marshal MacKenna, but not before he memorized it.
Maps – a concept which was inadvertently introduced through a movie and which continues to fascinate me even today.
I use maps wherever applicable. I use them when I am travelling across the country, in a new city, in the car, in a mall and even for leisure. I admit my Brigg Meyer’s test indicates that I am predominantly a “visual” person, and I am sure that most of us find it convenient to use a map!
Pictorially depicted information allows us to understand and organize things for better understanding. I always knew this but realized it in totality a couple of years back when I was asked to quickly conjure up a presentation in fifteen minutes.
The challenge: describe the sales status across the country.
My mind raced through the possibilities and I sheepishly downloaded a map of my country and placed a few dots of varying sizes for the major regions indicating sales volumes. Thankfully the presentation was well received – maybe because I was able to display the data in a format that is quick and easy to understand.
It can be applied to information of any kind and in any industry. For instance, financial wins and losses; forecasted retail store sales across the country; transport vehicles with their load (weight) and location at different points of time; probabilities, means, statistical test results for life saving drugs carried out in different centers; actuarial information; or, even analysis carried out on the impact of government policies across states.
IBM SPSS Statistics “mapping” feature helps you to display data geospatially, a very useful feature that makes communicating results much more effective. It is easy to use and displays results quickly thereby saving a good deal of effort in presenting your data analysis. (Click here for a data sheet).
For centuries (and epitomized in the movies) maps have always led to buried treasure. In the end, MacKenna got his gold and rode off into the sunset with this lady love.
It works in business too – especially when it comes using business analytics – to reveal insights that would not be visible in charts or tables. Let the map be a guide to better decisions… and possibly the love of your executives.