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Business Intelligence has changed the way of the business world and opens a new window to data analytics. Your entire organization becomes profitable, in time and in those dollar signs you are always wishing for but can never quite grasp. This article from TDWIdata_visualization[1] explains just how beneficial Visual Analytics, and its versatility, are for a business, but it also reminds us that Visual Analytics can quickly lead you down a messy path if it is not properly managed.

David Stodder gained perspective through his research (study of spreadsheet use, an interview with the director of data warehousing for Helzberg Diamonds, an interview with the director of pricing at Watts Water Technologies, & more) for this article, and his new viewpoints on Visual Analytics is worth sharing.

Visual Analytics tools allows users to work in a self-service environment with less reliance on IT for every question, dashboard, report, etc. Users have more power, and in most cases, this means users can move your organization closer to its final goals. But with this power, comes the ability to mismanage.

If growth in the use of visual analytics tools and applications is not managed carefully, it could also exacerbate the very difficulties that enterprise BI rollouts were intended to solve.

Through his research, Stodder found one consistency that matches 9Dots’ findings and opinions–start eliminating spreadsheet use. Through dashboard and analytics tools’ versatility, there are a variety of ways you can take this first step, but moving out of heavy spreadsheet use means more easily managed data and less confusion and stress in your work days.

The best course is to pursue “managed” or “governed” self-service that features good communication and division of responsibilities. A best practice is to establish a governance or center of excellence committee to support growth in self-service visual analytics. In this way, enabling “the masses” to be more data-driven in their daily strategic and operational decision making can be a realistic goal.

The key BI objective that Stodder has found through his many inquiries into well-run, profitable companies, is one that is consistent with our blog posts: “improving operational efficiency and performance through better information flow.” With visual analytics tools, users are offered a new set of tools that meets this objective AND it’s no more challenging to use. We understand that change can lead some of us into a frenzy, but it’s no better than the frenzy your already dealing with in your day-to-day. As long as the tools are managed and deployed correctly and your organization is comfortable with how to use it, they will push forward into new data environments AND improve your business.

Setting-Effective-Key-Performance-IndicatorsIn the few posts prior to this, I’ve said words like “easy” “simple” “efficient.” And the necessary and tedious tasks of your business can be all of those things with the right business intelligence solution. But what makes it so simple and so easy? Aside from the technological jargon I would have to use to answer that question, I also have failed to mention Key Performance Indicators.

KPIs are a measurable value about your business that informs you of the progress of your company. Track successes or failures and use them to have measurable goals. Every department of your organization can have KPIs. Data can be overwhelming for anyone in any department. Trying to understand pages of data or making sense of spreadsheets filled with numbers becomes noisy and easy to want to ignore. But instead of throwing all of your questions and nonsensical information at your IT guys to get answers, looking at KPIs gives you an instant snapshot of your company and the ability to answer your questions yourself. Figure out what changes need to be made immediately with KPI pictures and charts that are simple.

Everyone in your organization has access to data that they can understand once the desired metrics are decided. CEOs, COOs, and the like can easily take action on the simple picture of data they are given. Useful KPIs promote efficiency. They are predictive, helping management to identify any problems early. A quick idea about your company’s progress can be given on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. This means change can be made quickly-avoiding disaster.

When your entire organization is focused and successfully measuring their data, conversation about changes and taking new steps are not daunting. “Easy” “simple” and “efficient” will no longer be adjectives you strive to use to describe your business, they will be intricate elements of your organization’s foundations.