I’ll Take Some Science with My Art

April 8, 2014

We’ve kicked off some amazing new content around Pentaho’s data visualization and dashboard capabilities that you won’t want to miss.

For those of you who don’t know, we have a team of in-house data design experts who specialize in creating 100% tailored analytics experiences for organizations with unique visualization and user interface needs. The team creates Pentaho platform solutions to business problems presented in a visual, elegant and intuitive fashion. And now, we’ve taken the opportunity to share that process with you in The Fine Art of Business Intelligence.

FineArt_Before

from ‘back of the napkin’…

FineArt_After

…to stellar visualization

What’s so special about this content is that it starts with sketches and business objectives (the kind our team receives all the time) – and provides visual design proposals and recommendations to satisfy those needs. We see too often in the BI marketplace an emphasis on ‘pretty pictures’ without consideration for guiding goals and strategy.  As you might expect, we at Pentaho believe that beautiful visuals can (and must) solve business challenges before all else – hence the ‘Fine’ in ‘Fine Art’.

There’s also a little something for everyone on the Fine Art of BI pages – with examples addressing real needs in social media marketing, finance and investing, telecom, and healthcare.

Additionally, in conjunction with this project, we’ve  collected visualization and dashboard best practices from our in-house design experts and shared them in this quick project guide. It’s definitely worth a read if you are struggling with how to begin your project, which visualizations you should consider, or what dashboard layout makes sense. The guide (and the Fine Art of BI samples) highlight a few key themes that are broadly applicable:

  • You need to have a plan before anything else: This includes considering the high-level organizational goals, analytics user needs, relevant and measurable KPIs, as well as data readiness. If your visualizations and dashboards are to be effectively utilized, they must align with the right user and business objectives.
  • Less tends to be more: Don’t put too many charts in your dashboard, don’t insert complex overlays on your location visualizations, and don’t discount a simple yet elegant bar chart (it may be the best way to convey information).
  • Engagement drives adoption: Whether in the form of interactive hover and drill-down features, eye-catching theming and branding, or embedding analytics into existing applications – the more effectively you can engage your users, the more likely they will be to continue to use your analytics.

In case you missed it before, here’s another link to the Fine Art of BI. We’d also recommend this Visualization Paper from TDWI for further reading.

Finally, here is a link to more information regarding our Custom Visualization and UI Design services offerings.

Ben Hopkins
Product Marketing Manager
Pentaho

Webdetails and the art of the possible

April 22, 2013

wd_pentaho_horizontalIn business analytics, we hear so much these days about the growing role that data scientists play in helping organizations tap into big data to reach their goals. However, in certain scenarios, from hospitals to hospitality, information also needs to be designed with a combination of style, accessibility and consistency. In these cases, sometimes you may also need a data artist!

With that, I am very pleased to announce today that Webdetails, an exceptionally talented team of ‘data artists’ based in Portugal, have joined the Pentaho family through acquisition. Webdetails’ team of 20 will join our global development team, adding advanced capabilities in high-end, user interface design. Many of our customers and users reading this will already be familiar with Webdetails’ popular CTools plug-ins for creating dashboards and reports.

For several years now, Webdetails has been serving Pentaho customers including 4SightBI, St. Antonius Hospital, and our award-winning customer Stonegate Senior Living, showing them ‘the art of the possible’ when it comes to visually presenting their data. With its expertise in custom visual interfaces, if a customer can imagine it, Webdetails can create it using its CTools plugins and Pentaho’s extensible platform.

Finally, I am delighted that Webdetails’ Founder Pedro Alves, a respected, active member of the Pentaho open source community, will take on the new role of Senior VP, Community for Pentaho, as well as continue in his role as General Manager of Webdetails. Pedro is ideal for this role, having recently collaborated with us to launch the Pentaho Marketplace, where developers can share, install and load cool plug-ins.

So dare to dream! If you want to create interfaces that dazzle and delight your users, visit Pentaho.com and let us show you the art of the possible.

Quentin


Is Your Big Data Hot or Not?

July 23, 2012

Data is the most strategic asset for any business. However, massive volumes and variety of data has made catching it at the right time and right place, discovering what’s hot – and needs more attention – and what’s not, a bit trickier these days.

 Heat grids are ideal for seeing a range of values in data as they provide a gradient scale, showing a change in data intensity through the use of colors. For example, you can see what’s hot in red and what’s normal in green; and everything else in various shades of color in between. Let me give you two examples of how companies have used heat grids to see if their data is hot or not:

Example #1 – A retailer is looking at week-by-week sales of a new fashion line to understand how each product line is performing as items get continually discounted throughout the season. Data is gathered from thousands of stores across the country and then entered into a heat grid graph that includes:

  • X axis – week 1 through 12, beginning from the launch of a new campaign (e.g. Nordstrom’s Summer Looks)
  • Y axis – product line (e.g. shoes, dresses, skirts, tops, accessories)
  • Color of the squares – % of discount (e.g. dark red = 70%, red = 60%, orange = 50%, yellow = 30%, green = full price)
  • Size of the squares – # of units sold

Looking at this graph, the retailer can easily see that most shoes sell at the beginning of the season – even without heavy discounts. This helps the retailer predict inventory levels to keep up with the demand for shoes.

It also shows that accessories almost never sell at regular prices, nor do they sell well when the discount levels are higher than 70%. Knowing this, the retailer can control its capital spending by not overstocking on this item. The retailer can also increase profit per square footage of their store by reselling its accessories earlier in the season to avoid high markdowns and inventory overstocks at the end of the season.

Example # 2 – A digital music streaming service provider is using analytics to assess the performance of its sales channels (direct vs. sales through different social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter) to guide future marketing and development spend. For that, the company uses a heat grid to map out:

  • X axis – various devices (iPhone, iPad, Android Smartphone, Android Tablet, Blackberry)
  • Y axis – various channels (direct site, Facebook, Twitter, …)
  • Color of the circles – # of downloads (0-100 = red, 100-1000=orange, 1000-10000 = yellow, 10000+ = green)
  • Size of the circles – app usage hours per day – the bigger the size, the more usage

This graph helps the music service provider analyze data from millions of records to quickly understand the popularity and usage patterns of their application on different devices, sold through different channels.

Heat grids can be use in variety of other forms, such as survey scales, product rating analysis, customer satisfaction studies, risk analysis and more. Are you are ready to find out whether your big data is hot or not? Check out this 3 minute video to learn how heat grids can help you.

Understanding buyers/users and their behavior is helping many companies including ideeli – one of the most popular online retailers – and Travian Games – top German MMO (massively multiplayer online) game publisher – gain better insight from their hottest asset – their big data!

What is your hottest business asset?

- Farnaz Erfan, Product Marketing, Pentaho

This post originally appeared on Smart Data Collective on July 13,2012


Big Data Bubbles Up Trouble!

May 16, 2012

Today Big Data has made the impossible, possible. Collecting and analyzing unstructured data types such as social media data, web click streams, network and data center logs is no longer a daunting task. While Hadoop and MapReduce are the technologies behind the scenes to crunch massive volumes of data, advanced visualizations have become the art that show us the best (and worst) parts about our data.

Out of all types of different visualization styles, bubble charts are unique in the sense that they allow you to show hundreds of individual values at once! They are the perfect visualization for showing data sets that have a high degree of distribution in their frequency. Let me give you a couple examples:

Example # 1 - A call center looking at hourly tickets, on a week by week basis, to understand what issues cause the most service calls. Optimizing the call center performance requires analyzing average call duration as well as call wait times, for each service issue. This can be 1000s of calls every hour of every day. How you graph this? With a bubble chart that shows:

  • X axis – days of the week
  • Y axis – hours of the day
  • Color of the bubbles – reason for the call / service issue
  • Size of the bubbles – quantity of calls or call duration or call wait time

Example # 2 – A marketing organization looking to improve its branding and customer sentiment. What is the best way to visualize their online presence such as tweets as well as other social media sentiments?

  • X axis – previous week vs. current week, for a week over week analysis
  • Y axis – their company and their major competitors
  • Color of the bubbles – keywords such as “bad quality” or “crash”
  • Size of the bubbles – volumes (# of tweets) or the intensity of the sentiment (e.g. “hate”, “worst”, “like”, “love”, etc.)

Want to see this in action? Check out this 3 minute video to find out how a bubble chart can help you visualize your data.

What are your data troubles? Do you have the Big Data technology and the advanced visualizations required to see it? I would love to hear more use cases of this visualization. So, drop me a line at @farnazerfan or leaving a comment below.

Farnaz Erfan
Product Marketing
Pentaho


3 resources to get started with Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5

April 26, 2012

Wow, incredible. The response to our announcement of Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 has been enormously positive. Sitting next to sales I have an earshot sound track to the demand and interest from customers in the new visualizations, big data support and pluggable and extensible interface for easily adding third-party visualizations.

Fortunately, we have an abundance of resources available for customers to get started:

  • Check out our new heat grids, bubble charts and geo-mapping in a new visualization video series.
  • If you want to learn more about our support for new and expanded data sources—including big data, take a look at our big data resource center. It doesn’t get any easier than this to get started quickly with any of our supported big data technologies.
  • Or maybe you just want to get right in there and get a hands-on look at the product?  Download a 30-day trail of Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5. I know you will be impressed.

Let me know what you think (leave a comment below, on our Facebook page or tweet @Pentaho).  Meanwhile, I’ll keep listening to our busy sales managers and the sweet sound of the phones ringing for Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5….

Donna Prlich
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing at Pentaho


BI and DI finally connecting both sides of the building

April 24, 2012

I was musing the other day with a colleague about the early days of data warehousing. We reflected on how more than 20 years ago, the effort to get data into one place for analysis was mind-boggling. Then, analyzing the data in a warehouse was an even bigger challenge. For the most part these were two separate topics, two sets of users – IT and business users sitting in opposite sides of a building.

In many ways we are continually faced with the same problem, bringing together a growing variety and volume of data from flat files and delivering it to the business users who need it and support their tools of choice.  It is too easy to focus on one side of the building and not the other. A unique differentiator for Pentaho is that we focus on both sides of the building. Evolving as an open source company, continuing to innovate and never losing sight of how Business Intelligence and Data Integration should not and cannot be separated — the two are simply “better together.”

With the release of Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 GA today, we continue to tightly couple business intelligence and data integration in an open, integrated platform. The new visualization features included in this release, such as geo-mapping, heat grids and scatterplots, allow our users to interactively analyze data through pictures and graphics, without leaving behind the need to analyze disparate data sources. Plus, we added new big data support and a set of online resources to help overcome technical barriers to big data adoption. For software and SaaS companies, we added a pluggable and extensible interface to easily add third-party visualizations.

The result? IT and line of business coexist. IT controls infrastructure and business users get the data they need with the tools they want. This is an idea planted in the beginning by Pentaho’s founders eight years ago. Since then the team has been busy building the platform and growing the customer and community to deliver the future of analytics — BI and DI together in a modern unified platform. Simply put — Pentaho is business analytics that work.

Take a look at the cool new visualization and big data features in Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 and see for yourself…we’d like to hear from our IT and business users to see what you think! Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Donna Prlich
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing at Pentaho


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