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Master Data Management

Lalitha Chikkatur (Asia) - The Power of Business Analytics with Visualization

This is the final part of a three-part series on the global issue of ‘Big Data’ authored by Capgemini. Parts one and two looked at Europe and the US, respectively. Here, we look at the Asia-Pacific region.

Business Intelligence (BI) solutions have been an integral part of market decision making culture in the US and Europe for many years now. However, in the Asia-Pacific region, the adoption rate of BI has suddenly accelerated in last year. Faced with the challenges of the data explosion, customers here are demanding analytics for better decision making.

A few years ago a new type of BI offering emerged, which has gone on to become a key driver of BI adoption within business. This class of tools, known as ‘data discovery’ tools, has focused on driving BI adoption by empowering non-BI business consumers with a variety of data, both structured and unstructured. Data discovery alternatives to traditional BI platforms offer highly interactive and graphical user interfaces built on in-memory architectures to address business users' needs for ease-of-use and rapid deployment of BI.

Data discovery tools have had a positive impact on a number of areas of BI, including self-service BI, search based BI, and many more. Specifically, the Interactive Data Visualization aspect of data discovery has empowered mainstream business users and business analysts to find information hidden within multiple structured and unstructured information systems by bringing data together on a common platform for visual, user-driven reporting and analysis.

Data visualization capabilities are particularly user-friendly as they encourage a ‘visual thinking’ process which complements the human brain’s ability to perceive images more easily than detailed, text heavy  descriptions. Visual reporting depicts business performance and metrics over time by using interactive charts and graphics, enabling the user to drill down further so that detailed information can be seen instantly. Visual analysis allows users to explore and discover new insights on data intuitively, supporting requirements including forecasting, modeling, detailed analysis and even predictive analytics.

What does visualization mean for business?:

Visualization within BI helps business users by highlighting only the required data segments and attributes from even the largest data sets. By allowing users to drill down into data and perform ad-hoc analysis instantly, they can uncover new information and insights quickly and easily, which in turn could open up new business opportunities more rapidly. For advanced users, this class of tools also offers advanced analytic algorithms and predictive modeling. The ability to visualize analytics and provide access to interactive features has simplified and added impact to the decision-making process, particularly within the multilingual countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

However, data visualization is not a one-size-fits-all approach for all business analysis scenarios. Users have to carefully choose the areas where instant data discovery is going to bring new insights, benefits and opportunities which would otherwise be time consuming and tedious to uncover. For example, these tools would not be a good candidate for reporting within specific, defined parameters and for reporting on specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

As BI adoption continues to grow, we can expect to see increased use of Interactive Data Visualization tools.  By taking this approach, business users do not need to depend on their IT department to access and analyze large amounts of data and can do so on a common workspace. It offers a more self-service type of approach with an easy to use platform, which is increasing awareness and adoption quite aggressively, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region.

For users, data visualization enables:

1.    Self-service based data access and analysis

2.    Significantly increased user productivity through faster access to data and of course, through the power of visualization

3.    Structured and unstructured data to be bought together in the same analytics workspace

4.    A reduction in the need for complex IT skills and long implementation timelines for ad-hoc analytical views

5.    Business users to perform complex analytical modeling techniques like predictive, forecasted and statistical modeling quickly and easily

As users are empowered by data discovery, and are able to perform detailed analysis more independently, what is of utmost importance in these initiatives is governance. It’s important to have a governance model around data as well as around processes so that data quality remains intact. Ideally, the IT department should still play an important role in implementing and enabling any data discovery and visualization initiatives as a managed self-service, but should also extend the capabilities of in-depth, ad-hoc analysis to the business and analyst user community within their organization.

In conclusion, data discovery and data visualization are new answers to old questions, providing a more visual means of analyzing and presenting data. Indeed, perhaps the most important capability of data visualization is the ability to easily share discoveries and perspectives from analysed data with a wider team to uncover new insights and potentially new business opportunities. 

By Lalitha Chikkatur, Information Management Practitioner, Business Information Management, Capgemini

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