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Business Intelligence has been around for a long time and has become a mainstay for most decision makers; however with all the technical prowess accomplished, it has not pushed the boundaries of data analysis. We are still limited to charting capabilities that explore data in the traditional (bars, pie, line) formats that leave a lot desired when it comes to more advanced forms of data exploration.
In the last few years I have observed the discipline of data visualization make huge strides, with new libraries, dedicated forums, blogs & sites talking about creative ways of understanding complex data problems. The question I asked myself is, did the BI industry miss the boat on integrating newer data visualization forms as an essential part of its solution. I believe the answer is not black and white. The truth is, the end-user has only recently become savvier in interpreting such visuals as it has become more commonplace for analytics in sports, finance, health tracking and other more day-to-day apps. I believe it is a great time for BI to take advantage of this new literacy and build solutions that enhance the presentation layer that is often overlooked. I have tried to bridge this gap between BI platforms and data visualization in my current role. Here are my learnings.
Developers are usually not designers
Hiring a team with a designer or even tapping into an internal group that works on UX/UI can go a long way in how you roll out dashboards. Most often the strongest developers are more interested in the technical challenge overlooking the need to think through the presentation layer. Designers will push the boundaries on how to imagine this data with a strong focus on readability and user experience.
"It is important to pick a platform that allows for complete freedom in building custom visualizations"
Picking the right platform is crucial
Most corporate BI solutions use licensed software and rightly so because of all the bells and whistles that come along. It is important to pick a platform that allows for complete freedom in building custom visualizations. More recently vendors have started offering this ability and if you are in the process of picking a new BI platform, make sure this is in one of your top considerations.
It seems obvious that leadership is always a must but it is even more important as you try to introduce this new dynamic as part of your BI strategy. As you push your BI capabilities into the realm of data visualization the pace could get slower for deliveries but the long-term effect of creating an engaging experience can go a long way in adoption. It is important that the leadership is supportive of this transformation.
The rewards of building a team that has freedom in building out newer visualization capabilities along with the backing of a strong traditional BI team can make a huge impact in promoting the data driven culture we all aspire to push forward.