There’s a lot of interest in data visualization tools right now, and rightfully so. These products make it very easy for business analysts and others to create eye-catching dashboards that highlight key business performance information. However, the amount of work required by these users to prepare and maintain the underlying data can be quite overwhelming.
Every great visualization begins and ends with the data. If your data is incomplete, incorrect and disorganized, then the visuals you build from the information will be as well. Your visualization and other BI tools need to possess functionality for data collection, transformation, maintenance and advanced analytics to ensure that core business information can be easily exploited by those who need it.
Today’s enterprise needs a modern data platform (or hub) that can collect all types of data flexibly and make that data instantly available for analysis. There are many reasons why you would want to use a modern data hub when analyzing and visualizing your data. Here are some of them:
- While information from ERP and other transactional systems can be accessed with today’s visualization and reporting toolsets, the data structures of these systems are quite complex. As a result, users either have a difficult time getting to the data they need or understanding what they’re looking at once they have it. Plus, not all of the data that analysts need resides solely in transactional applications. This includes plans, budgets, forecasts and other information that your employees, suppliers, customers and other third parties may provide. Even web- and cloud-based data like demographic information.
- In addition, using a modern data hub together with visualization tools and other analytic / reporting solutions eliminates the potential risk of misusing or misinterpreting transactional system data. It also mitigates performance problems that may arise when reports are run directly against operational systems or when the tools are used to drill down to very low levels of detail within a large set of data.
- A modern data hub supports the integration and management of data derived from many different sources, regardless of whether the sources are internal or external to your business. With a modern data platform, high volumes of historical and near real-time data can reside in one easily accessible place with a common data model that communicates how all the data is connected to each other, processed and stored.
- The first step is to collect, organize and transform your existing data sources into an analytics-ready state. Being analytics ready means your data platform can ingest any type of data, no matter where it may reside and include a powerful transformation engine to ensure that every view of information is complete, consistent and trusted.
- Data can be reorganized within a modern data repository and presented to business users in terms they completely understand without having to know the underlying structure of all the source information.
- In addition, you may want to enhance the data to improve your analytics and reporting. This means your data platform needs mechanisms for completing, enriching and augmenting information – like supplementing customer and product data with additional attributes that are not currently included in your ERP system.
- Another category of functionality your data platform must have is the ability to make your data actionable. It should provide the ability for users to drill down from their dashboards to the most granular levels of detail in order to drive greater insights and actionable information from them. Plus, it should include elements like alerts and notifications to automatically alert users to business situations that may require their immediate attention.
- A modern data hub should offer an efficient way for analysts to easily update the information driving their dashboards and reports with minimal work on their part, too.
- And last, today’s modern data platform should provide for the automated distribution of information to ensure that stakeholders are getting at least the minimum information they need to support the decision-making process on a timely and regular basis.
In order to navigate today’s new data world, a modern solution like Silvon Stratum compliments and extends the value of data visualization tools like Microsoft’s Power BI. And it makes self-service BI a reality through pre-built analytics and data management functionality that lets you collect data from multiple applications, databases, spreadsheets, and documents into one interface that gives business users the quick insights they need to better run their organizations.
This post was written by Pat Hennel