hugo at simOn June 12, 2014, Chateaux CTO Hugo Toledo joined a group of experts in the “Data Discovery through Visual Analytics” Fairfield/Westchester SIM panel discussion.

Gartner states that there is a “shifting tide of BI platform requirements, moving from reporting-centric to analysis-centric, (meaning) the majority of BI vendors will make governed data discovery capabilities an expansion of, and the prime competitive capability for, their BI platform offerings.” Chateaux has also seen this shift with its BI customers, where they are moving beyond simple status reports and health-check dashboards to abilities that allow them to understand and explore the data at hand to implement action. Visual Analytics solution providers are responding to these changing requirements of enterprise BI buyers – with dynamic analytical tools, rapid deployment capabilities, predictive modeling and simulation.

Over 50 people attended the discussion where they explored the evolution in the BI marketplace that is driving the success of solutions like Qlikview, Tableau and Spotfire. The focus of the discussion was how these solutions compare to traditional BI, the complexities of deployment, and the resultant benefits achieved. The panelists consisted of service providers and practitioners with direct experience implementing these solutions, including: Joseph DeSiena, President of Consulting Services, Bardess Group, Ltd.; Nandan Shah, Director, CDRA Systems at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; Dinesh Thoniparambil, Director of Global Business Intelligence in Terex Corporation.

Mr. Toledo spoke about the need for good training programs to help ensure that the right value is achieved from the investment in this technology. There is a certain level of sophistication that is required in using these tools. He noted how BI training programs sometimes go stale and are not in synch with updates to the tools. Use of innovative learning techniques is also required to ensure ROI; for example, Chateaux has been providing “Lunch-and Learn” sessions to many clients with great success.

Mr. Toledo also touched upon the importance of understanding how to use BOTH the tools at hand and the data. Users need to understand the pitfalls of working with numbers (most folks don’t); without this, users may pick the wrong visual metaphor to create optical illusions (such as 3d pie charts that do not convey the correct magnitude). Visual analytics demo so nicely, but the data behind the visualizations is just as important as the visualizations themselves. It is important to take the time and make sure that data quality is as good as it can be.

A third area that Mr. Toledo discussed was the need to incentivize the use of this technology for not only the direct users, but also their management. This is important to ensure that these tools become part of Standard Operating Procedure. Users also need to document the steps taken to reach conclusions. Most end-user visual analytics tools are not disciplined to document how insight was achieved, to ensure that others can reproduce success. And, we need to properly audit the use of these tools.

“Overall the event was a success and provided valuable insight into the evolving world of visual analytics,” said Jeff Galdenzi, Senior Project Manager at Chateaux and SIM member for over 5 years.

Fairfield/Westchester SIM connects the area’s premier IT leaders for business solution exchange, professional development, and timely education. Regular member meetings, social events, and special programs provide the opportunity for lively discussion of the issues that IT leaders are facing today.

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