Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Data marts, Analytics marts and Dash marts, Part 3 of 3

As described in our first part of this 3 part series, dash marts are the culmination of the data marts and the analytics marts. The dash mart is a concept from Bimotics that allows to integrate multiple analytics marts into a dashboard. But, what is new about this? Although most dashboards are a collection of charts and tables organized to provide a specific view to your business. The dashmart is not. A dash mart is more than a template. Bimotics dashmarts are built on top of data marts and analytics marts. Through categorizations and a strong understanding of business dependencies and relationships, the dash mart weaves together dashboards together for a more meaningful view of the big picture. We have built you a smart asset to win over your competition by combining the three concepts- data marts, analytics  marts and dash marts.
Dash marts leverage data marts as their foundation, as described on our series (Part 1: data marts). Data marts integrates convert and make easy for consumption the information from applications use by business like Quickbooks, Freshbooks and SalesForce.
As described also in the second part of this series (Part 2: Analytics Marts) the analytics marts, is at this level where business can gather real insight about meaningful questions related to a data mart. Here looking at each individual chart is key. Multiple insights can come by just looking at one analytic-one core measurement. For more an example using sales representative profitability see our first white paper.
The dash mart provides the “Aha! moments”, while analytics marts provide very meaningful insight they are limited by the data mart. With dash marts you are free to use analytics from multiple data sources on demand and most important provide the big picture to business. They are bound by filters that cross analytics through a common fiber. For example, dash marts that combine analytics from finance and CRM could generate very complex scenarios in a very simple way to analyze them. First, mixing financials with a CRM is the only way you can get sales representative profitability. In the same view, combine the your sales funnel from leads to cash.  Layer in product velocity vs. profit impact. Now you have the richest sales dashboard possible.
Our dash mart enables a forward view of your business- no more reliance on snapshots and historics. It also allows to monitor while you run it. Please checkout how Bimotics implements dash marts and how they could help you.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A case against the spreadsheet mindset

Recently, I was having a conversation with a seasoned visualization (dashboard) specialist. I asked this person, “What is the biggest challenge in getting users to adopt a visualization technology?” I was expecting to hear that there was a lack of skills around being able to build complex queries; or experiencing complicated steps in configuring the dashboard user interface, graphs and charts.  The answer truly surprised me.

He answered that the biggest barrier was the spreadsheet mindset. Even with advanced technology available to them, most users struggle with trusting and analyzing data outside of tables full of data points and looking at the raw numbers instead.

He went on to explain that he provided the same dashboarding tool to multiple users-  engineers, sales, and finance employees conducting multiple training sessions and providing examples for them to reference. The engineers produced highly graphical "cool charts" but these analytics were complex and hard to understand. The finance employees, number experts, replicated their excel spreadsheets and did not add any visualization- stating that was easier to see the numbers in tables.  Finally sales provide a mix of both traditional tables and simple charts.  

I was surprised how users are much more trusting and comfortable with tables of numbers rather than visualizations like charts and counters.  Numbers are great when looking into a specific value, but they inhibit analysis and blur the “big picture”. The best example that illustrates how charts enable more insights quickly, I learned from the most respected person in the industry, Stephen Few.

Imagine a table with 12 columns representing the months and 20 rows each with the sales by product line.  Now try to answer the following questions in less than 5 seconds:

1. Which product has the highest and lowest sales?
2. Is there any seasonality per product?
3. What is the overall sales trend?
4. Which month yielded the highest sales?
5. Are there any anomalies over the time period being analyzed?

Now imagine a line chart graph, based on the same dataset. Now go back and try to answer the same questions.

Were you able to analyze the information faster in visual format (chart) or table format? Were you able to answer them in less than 5 seconds?  I’m confident that the insights gained from the chart were both easier to obtain and more efficient in providing the answer.  What do you think?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Evolving from data marts to analytics marts - part 2

In our previous blog entry, we illustrated the value of data marts over complex spreadsheets.  While data marts help you and businesses focus more on analysis and less on dealing with raw data, they are just one foundational building block of a smart business.  
Data marts benefit businesses by converting often-immense source data from multiple subject matter silos within a business (eg. operations and/or finance) into a  more user-friendly product that is easier to analyze by the end-user. Getting usable data is key, but to have a truly intelligent business, metrics and analytics need to be defined and applied.
Bimotics asked the question, ”How can data marts be made even more streamlined?  Refined?  Intuitive? Can they provide answers to questions customers had not even asked yet?”  

Enter analytics marts – the evolution of the data mart.  The analytics mart is a concept pioneered by Bimotics that provides great analytical insight into information gathered from data marts through a gallery of plug and play charts that automatically adjust to your data, and most importantly, your business. From the moment you fire up the Bimotics console, you have ready to use analytics available at your fingertips.  The below image conceptually depicts how the analytics mart works.  Instead of having to build each chart from scratch and figure out the appropriate visualization for the information you have, simply click on the pre-built chart 
you want.

Analytics marts are individually tailored groups of business essential analyses that can be gathered from one or more data mart.  At Bimotics, these analytics come pre-packaged into categories like customer analysis, profitability and financial performance.  This categorization into intuitive grouping is at the heart of the analytics mart concept- pick and choose the charts and metrics built from your data marts that make sense and align with the business strategy and model of today.  Change them as quickly as your business transforms. Be agile!  If you are looking for revenue performance, for example, we have provided the metrics and charts  in the financials category .  You can also search analytics by tags such as revenue and financial performance.

The bottom line is that analytics marts allow you to focus your efforts on the actual analysis and gaining of insight instead of fretting over building charts. The visualization itself also aids  in the quick evaluation of your data.  It allows you to look at your information from multiple angles quickly and efficiently. Analytics marts are essential for detailed analysis, Key Performance Indicator (KPI) monitoring, and applying operational insight to process control.

The third part of the series ties it all together. Bimotics introduces the concept of the dash mart, an approach that combines analytics marts and data marts to give you an extraordinary view of your business.