Business stakeholders increasingly rely on business analytics to make key decisions. Often, urgent business needs require new information to be available at a pace that is difficult to achieve leveraging a more traditional business intelligence stack. The Covid-19 Pandemic has driven this urgent need for many of our clients. These needs include monitoring the effect of the pandemic on their business and measuring the change to their business as more traffic is driven to different channels. Leveraging modern visualization technologies and an accelerated, iterative process can often produce timely, new analytics for business stakeholders with some reasonable tradeoffs.
The Challenge of Traditional Platforms
Traditional platforms typically optimize for quality, consistency and predictability of structure which is usually achieved via complex transformations from source data, investments in automation and data-quality processes to achieve these goals. These optimizations add a lot of value in the long-term but tend to take a significant investment of time and resources up front to achieve. The lead time required to add new data sources and expose data for business stakeholders to consume and analyze using a traditional stack often fails to meet the requested timelines.
A Potential Solution
Today’s visualization technologies, such as Power BI and Tableau, can directly read source data, perform basic data transformations, calculate metrics, refresh automatically and render visualizations of the information for stakeholders. In many situations, these tools can achieve much of the functionality of the traditional stack as described above albeit with some key tradeoffs. If getting your business stakeholders the information they need at the speed that they need it is your top priority and you understand and can tolerate the tradeoffs, this approach can work for you.
4 Keys to Success
The right teams using the right tools the right way can produce dramatic results. The following factors can set your team up for success:
Things to Consider
Visualization tools do a lot of things well but they are nota replacement for traditional analytics platforms. Visualization tools are focused primarily on rapid results and therefore can exacerbate some long-term challenges that traditional platforms address well. Below are some of the challenges:
Over time your analytics environment may evolve to necessitate a more complex, traditional analytics platform as described above. If the core business requirements, KPIs, or visualization flows remain constant, you may be able to evolve the underlying solution to a more traditional model that addresses the challenges above while maintaining the front-end analytics that users have grown to love. Often these approaches work in parallel with the visualization tool providing rapid results and the traditional platform following over time with improvements to quality ,automation and overall availability of the data.
Delivering business value quickly has always been important. Events such as COVID-19 made that even more important for many businesses. Whether it is COVID-19 or some other compelling event that is driving your business needs, with the right team, engaged sponsors and an agile approach leveraging today’s visualization technologies will reduce the time to achieve business value. Starting this approach today will ensure your organization is able to rapidly adapt and quickly harness the power of data visualization.