Why Beyond is The Analytics Event of the Year: A Partner’s Perspective

Why Beyond is The Analytics Event of the Year: A Partner’s Perspective

Over 20 years in the analytics space, I have attended many industry conferences as an attendee, speaker and sponsor. Although there have been a lot of great events, and some not so great ones (we can talk about those over a drink), I have never had this level of excitement going into an event before. The event in question? Beyond.2019 in Dallas this October, organized by ThoughtSpot. 

Fresh off the heels of the partnership announcement between Theia and ThoughtSpot, a certain level of excitement is to be expected. But, the excitement goes beyond the partnership.

We are at a very interesting point in the analytics industry. For years, the name of the game has been data visualization. It was the most cutting edge technology around. But the last decade has seen a major shift, as new paradigms like cloud, mobile, and IoT go mainstream. To keep up, businesses need a fundamentally new kind of analytics.  

The era of augmented analytics is upon us as artificial intelligence and machine learning are making a significant impact on how we deliver analytics to the masses. Beyond.2019 will bring together industry leaders, subject matter experts, and innovative customers, who will share their experience around disruption and transformation that has empowered organizations to turn insight into action, and why they are designing their future analytics solutions around AI. 

Theia is excited to be a Gold Sponsor at the analytics event of the year. If you’re attending Beyond.2019, please stop by our booth, meet the Theia team and register for our breakout session “Embedding Search & AI: Monetize Data & Unlock New Revenue Streams” and check out Theia in action!

We’d love to meet you at the show and hear about how AI-driven insight is changing how you deliver analytics, and improving your business results. If you would like to arrange a meeting , please contact me at [email protected].

But Beyond won’t be just business – there’s plenty of time for fun. We’re also running a baseball speed pitching test, projecting analytics over the course of the event, comparing companies and attendees against the professionals. 
If you’re on the fence, what are you waiting for?! Register today.

How are Triathlons and Analytics Similar?

How are Triathlons and Analytics Similar?

Recently, I finished my second Ironman 70.3 triathlon (for the record, that is NOT me in the photo). The triathlon is made up of three segments: swim, bike, and run. While the finishing time is reflected as a single value, there are 5 distinct times that comprise the total. Not surprisingly, the times for the swim, bike, and run portions are included, but also in the mix, are the two transition times. A transition is the time spent between the different events. Once an athlete crosses the finish line, these five times are summarized for the final result.

During this last race, I had some extra time (way more time than I expected) to ponder how the results are conveyed, and how there is so much more to the triathlon story than just the final time and the sum of the parts. There is the impact of the weather, how much training time was spent in each discipline, how effective that training was, conditions of the course, etc. Yet, when the dust settles and the results are in, it’s only these handful of metrics that are displayed.

The same scenario exists in analytics and business intelligence deployments. So much emphasis is placed on displaying the final results in a dashboard or report, that a lot of supporting context is lost. Context that could help to justify the results being seen, highlight and validate that previous business decisions have paid off, or worse, had a negative impact. This is why the current trend, one that isn’t being adopted quick enough in my opinion, is to start telling data stories. 

A data story is where in addition to analytic assets, contextual information is included to help guide and inform the user. This way, users with varying levels of data literacy can all arrive at the same interpretation of the data. Now, special care must be taken to not lead the witness by framing the story with bias from the author (Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts), but by and large, data stories are much more effective at delivering the desired message to the masses.

Being a data geek, a triathlon, and the whole training process, is FULL of metrics and various data points, so it’s a little disappointing that the results are displayed the way that they are. Hmm, maybe a data story should be built around all of the data gathered while training for an event like a triathlon …

Theia Announces Partnership with ThoughtSpot to Deliver Embedded Insight Hub to Enterprises

Theia Announces Partnership with ThoughtSpot to Deliver Embedded Insight Hub to Enterprises

Theia launches Insight Hub powered by ThoughtSpot to enable organizations to curate insights and create stunning data stories 

OTTAWA, Canada – July 31, 2019 – Enterprises across all industries have been embarking on major digital transformation projects. Despite heavy investments, many organizations still report an inability to turn these initiatives into demonstrable business value. In order to help organizations leverage these efforts and empower their team with insights,  Theia, the Embedded Insight Hub, announced a new partnership with ThoughtSpot, the leader in search and AI-driven analytics, to enable enterprises to run ThoughtSpot workloads directly within Theia. 

Building a Strong Data Culture

Theia uses data stories to empower organisations to gain business insight by combining all of their information assets and ThoughtSpot through a single, tailored user experience. Equipping employees with these insights helps build a strong data culture and encourages users to make data-driven decisions. 

Benefits of Theia’s Insight Hub include:

Accelerated Integration: Capabilities enable customers to embed ThoughtSpot alongside other information assets. Customers get a unique customized market-leading solution that provides a competitive advantage within weeks – not months. A faster and cost effective alternative to in-house development can be achieved with Theia’s code free, drag and drop environment.

Monetization & Brand Enablement: Deploy visually stunning and compelling applications that align to corporate branding for internal and external users. With the ability to white label, the power to create new revenue streams is great. 

Federated Discovery: Enterprises have many pinboards, answers, SpotIQ, reports, dashboards, presentations and media in multiple information systems. With Theia it is simple to organize and find content. Users save time through quick discovery of valuable information assets which provides insight at scale. 

“We are delighted to be able to partner with a market leader like ThoughtSpot. For our joint customers, having the ability to access the rich insight and context created by ThoughtSpot’s search & AI driven analytics platform, viewed through Theia’s flexible and intuitive lens on the business, allows a greater number of their users to make better decisions and take the actions required to drive the best business outcomes possible,” said Mitch Robinson, CEO at Theia. “The combination of our two solutions is what will enable [email protected] for our customers.” 

“Companies in every sector are seeking to transform themselves to compete in the new digital world by tapping into the value of their data. By partnering with Theia, we can protect organizations past investments in analytics tools and rapidly embed ThoughtSpot into any data-driven application,” said Toni Adams, VP of Global Channels & Alliances, ThoughtSpot. “I’m excited to work together with Theia to help companies find meaningful insights in their data and applications faster than ever before.”

About ThoughtSpot

The world’s most innovative enterprises use ThoughtSpot to empower every person in their organization, from C-suite executive to front-line employee, with the ability to quickly uncover data-driven insights. With ThoughtSpot, business people can type a simple Google-like search in natural language to instantly analyze billions of rows of data, and leverage artificial intelligence to get trusted, relevant insights pushed to them as answers to thousands of questions they might not have thought to ask. ThoughtSpot is simple enough for any business person to use, yet powerful enough to handle even the largest, most complex enterprise data without sacrificing speed, security, or governance. That’s why customers like 7-11, BT, Celebrity Cruises, Daimler, De Beers, Hulu, Miami Children’s Health System, Nationwide Building Society, and Scotiabank have turned to ThoughtSpot to transform their decision-making cultures and analyst firm Gartner named ThoughtSpot a Leader in the 2019 Magic Quadrant. By making insights a part of every conversation and every decision, ThoughtSpot is reimagining the role of data in creating a more fact-driven world. For more information, please visit www.thoughtspot.com.

About Theia

Theia is an Insight Hub. Information from many sources is required to provide insight to make effective decisions. Theia brings sources together – BI platforms, analytics and data visualizations – into one experience, so that better, data-driven decisions can be made. Theia’s Embedded Insight Hub provides insight at scale. For further information, please visit heytheia.

“Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts”

“Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts”

Today I had the opportunity to attend Tableau’s “Design tricks for great dashboards” webinar. The speaker was Andy Cotgreave, a visualization expert and Tableau veteran. During the webinar, Andy touched on ‘framing’. As a level set, framing is about the context in which data is presented, which is critical because author bias can creep in to lead the witness, err, dashboard viewer into arriving at a biased opinion. This has been a concern of mine for years and it was great hearing Andy describe the problem so effectively.

Although the view of the data is static and there should be only one version of the truth, we are all unique individuals with different opinions, backgrounds, etc, thus, we don’t all interpret the data in the same way. I’ve always stated that if you showed one report, without context in a management meeting, each member of the audience would interpret the report differently. Essentially, a report can be twisted to fit a lot of different narratives. During the webinar, Andy used these two visuals to explain this scenario.

The first is a well-known infographic (created by Simon Scarr) that was very impactful. This striking visual depicts the loss of life as a result of the military engagement in Iraq. Certain design choices were made, like the deliberate choice of colour (red) and using the visual metaphor of dripping blood, to convey a very polarizing view.

But what if some simple changes were made to the infographic? I’m not talking wholesale changes to the layout and charts, I’m simply talking about tweaking the colour, orientation, and headline. As you can see below, taking the EXACT same infographic, rotating it 180 degrees, swapping out the red for a blue, and modifying the headline totally changes the narrative to something more positive.

At first glance of the original infographic, my visceral opinion was negative, and I had thoughts about how destructive and senseless war can be. When viewing the modified infographic, my first impression was “hey look, fewer people are dying”. Definitely a more positive narrative than the original infographic invoked.

It is our role, as the data literate, to ensure that when building visualizations our personal bias and opinions don’t influence the interpretation of the results. Easier said than done though. When tasked with creating new visualizations, I focus on the questions that the audience is looking to answer. Once the questions are understood, the focus shifts to providing the facts required to answer those questions. My preference is to not inject headlines or commentary into the visualizations.

  • But without the commentary aren’t the visualizations open for interpretation, thus propagating the ‘multi-version of the truth’ scenario?

Definitely, especially when the audience is non data literate and doesn’t have the experience in interpreting analytics. So how do we bridge the gap to resolve this? To me, the best way to solve this problem is by focusing on finding correlation, and to a certain extent, causation (this is a slippery slope to injecting personal opinion though, so beware) and adding that as context to support the analytics. When the data to support the decision-making process resides across different data sources, or BI platforms, there is an opportunity to tell a larger, more complete, data story. When commentary is placed into each visualization, legibility may be impacted when bringing together multiple artifacts into the data story. Not only that, an opportunity is lost to establish correlations that transcend single visualizations and/or platforms. An effective data story should contain:

  • The facts required to answer the audience’s questions
  • The necessary visualizations to convey the data story
  • Non-biased commentary that guides the audience to correlations in the data
  • When using multiple analytics solutions to tell the story, the emphasis should be on the data within the visualization and not technology that created the visualization

By sticking to the facts, a greater emphasis will be placed on the raw data and the correlation versus forcing the audience into one potentially polarizing view or opinion.

Predicting the 2019 Masters

Predicting the 2019 Masters

April showers brings May flowers … but more importantly, April brings the Masters. My name is Scott, and I’m an analytics nerd, with a golfing habit.

Although I enjoy the PGA tour, the Masters has always been special to me. Trevor and I (having both been fortunate enough to walk the fairways at Augusta on different occasions) were recently talking about the upcoming tournament. More specifically, who stood the best chance of winning and who didn’t. Still basking in the glow following the Gartner Data and Analytics conference, I thought surely there must be a way to use analytics to provide statistical evidence that our golf knowledge was above average.

Before I knew it, Trevor had built some Tableau workbooks that pulled in statistics from various sources, that then fed into a prediction model. Now because the prediction wasn’t accurate (didn’t align to my predicted outcome), I decided to enhance the prediction model … for accuracy purposes, of course. NOT so that the outcomes better aligned to my predictions. Having been impressed by a recent demo that I saw, my tool of choice was PowerBI.

Ultimately, we ended up with a LOT of different visualizations (that mostly proved me wrong, or should I say, didn’t prove me right?!). Word quickly spread through the office, and to our friends, of the *cough* work *cough* that we were doing, and people naturally wanted to see the outcomes. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried sharing many different visualizations, coming from different systems, to people who don’t really understand analytics, but let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

Fortunately, we both work on Theia, which is designed for telling data stories. Although our Masters debate argument research isn’t business related, we decided to create a data story to share with those interested parties. At the end of the day, a data story can be about anything, even a golf tournament. Plus, using Theia to tell our Masters story is a good way for us to justify our time and effort as ‘work related’.

I’m not going to share the winner of the 2019 Masters with you just yet, but keep your eyes open as we will be sharing the results through social media next week. Monday and Tuesday will showcase the analytics that went into the prediction, with the winner being revealed on Wednesday. Watch, or follow, @HeyTheia next week for all of our Masters fun, I mean work.

Semi-legal disclaimer: I did say that our golf knowledge was only above average, so don’t go making any large bets using our visualizations or predictions.