Data Storytelling: An Intersection of Art & Science

Data Storytelling: An Intersection of Art & Science

A few years ago I met Walter Isaacson, former Chairman of CNN, Editor of TIME, and author of Steve Jobs’ biography. If you can’t tell from his pedigree, Isaacson is a great storyteller. He also wrote about other famous innovators including Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci. I only had time to ask him one question, so I made it a good one,

“What did Jobs, Franklin, Einstein, and Da Vinci have in common that made them such great visionaries?”

Isaacson smiled and responded, “All great innovators operate at the intersection of Art and Science.” I think Isaacson would agree this balance applies to data storytelling as well. Truly effective storytelling drives business action, and this occurs with the right mix of facts, visual presentation, and contextual narrative. Finding this balance is a challenge, but with the right tools and methodology, you can go from creating flashy dashboards to actually informing decisions.

Data Storytelling

Over the past decade, there has been a massive push for companies to leverage data. We are starting to see the Rise of Chief Data Officers. Humans are visual by nature, so we have also seen increased adoption of user-friendly visualization tools like Tableau, Qlik, Power BI, and ThoughtSpot. As the push for data democratization and access to data continues to increase, we need to ensure data is being effectively communicated and consumed – not just put into a pretty dashboard.

Data Storytelling

What is Data Storytelling? Data Storytelling is translating data in an easy to understand the way to help people take action on the business. There are three main components to data storytelling: story boarding, data visualizations and data narrative.

The art of communicating using data and analytics, is still on the starting block. However, by establishing a methodology and using new technologies to support us, we can realize the full value of our data, inspire action, and transform Data Storytelling from an industry buzzword into an effective boardroom practice.

Capturing Business Context

All BI and Analytics initiatives should aim to do the following: make money, save money, or protect against risk. However, only 20% of analytics insights are predicted to produce a business outcome through 2022 according to Gartner. To unlock greater value, analytics teams and business leaders must radically change the way they communicate.

Rather than just deliver report requests, analytics teams must establish a dialogue with the business to understand the context. Context includes goals, challenges, and potential decisions that the business will make. In creating this dialogue, gaps in understanding will appear. These gaps will highlight the best questions to ask of the data. Ultimately, the answers to these questions will deliver the value business leaders have been seeking.

Using Technology for Storytelling

Once the context has been established and the right questions are being asked, analytics teams, can use technology to help communicate information with a narrative to increase understanding. We use reports and data visualization tools now. Data visualization helps us see blatant patterns, but it isn’t ideal for communicating context and situational nuances. We also shouldn’t assume interpreting a visualization is easy for everyone. With the global Data Literacy rate struggling around 24%, delivering an isolated report or visualization is risky – the information can easily be misinterpreted and lead to costly decisions.

New technology, like Digital Hive’s Enterprise Portal enables companies to easily balance the art and science of data storytelling so they can communicate and understand the entire business narrative – and ultimately make the best decisions.

By bringing together reports, visualizations, and dashboards from all of your different BI tools into a single storyboard, you can mix best-of-breed technology to deliver all of the facts. Contextually, you can incorporate video, custom messaging, presentations, and data literacy support assets to complete the narrative and inspire action.

The ideal balance of data, visualization, and narrative can now be achieved without the limitations of any one tool or technology because you can use all of your tools together seamlessly.

Conclusion

To increase the value of analytics for the business, we must find a greater balance between the art and science of data storytelling. When looking to improve the art, we must change the way analytics teams and the business communicate context. Then, we need to ask impactful questions of our data.

Finally, when delivering our findings, we should leverage technology to support us by using data visualization and data storytelling tools to communicate insight within a narrative.

Analytics from different BI systems side by side
*Image shows an example Digital Hive gameboard/storyboard with assets from multiple BI tools sitting side by side in a single view.

Digital Hive and Data Storytelling

Digital Hive dynamically displays content from any information system seamlessly in one unified platform – providing the easiest, most efficient, and customizable experience for the delivery and consumption of data stories on the market today. Behind the scenes, Digital Hive defends users from change-disruption, tracks analytics adoption, and reduces the IT backlog.

Click here to download our e-book 7 Steps to Drive Data Literacy‘ or book a quick 30 min 1:1 demo with a Digital Hive expert!

3 Reasons why an Enterprise Portal can help you deliver the ‘C’ word…Centralization

3 Reasons why an Enterprise Portal can help you deliver the ‘C’ word…Centralization

Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you’re uncomfortable using the ‘C’ word.  Most organizations are still working with data silos that aren’t even close to being centralized, and that’s before we ask whether centralization has even made it to your data strategy. Dealing with information that’s dispersed across a plethora of systems still seems to be the norm. But, as levels of data and information grow it’s becoming increasingly difficult for teams to answer even simple questions quickly and consistently.

In today’s constantly changing digital landscape you need to modernize to remain competitive. However, when you not only have to adapt to a multitude of backend systems but also the new hybrid multi-generational workforce, where do you even begin?

As the ‘C’ word suggests, centralization is all about bringing everything together into one central location where you’ll be able to find anything quickly and easily. By introducing an Intelligent Enterprise Portal you’ll not only give your organization a consolidated view of all critical information but you’ll also be able to operate with greater efficiency and interconnect your systems with external data sources.

Here are three key reasons why moving towards centralization with an enterprise portal might just be what you need.

1. Man cannot live by data alone

Data and insights can be your biggest asset when used effectively but if your users can’t access all the information they need, when they need it, what’s the point in having it?

Think about the last time you were stuck in traffic. What did you do? Did you take out your smart phone and check the ETA, double check the traffic alerts or just get angry? You should’ve just given yourself the right information, at the right time, which would have led to a more effective outcome.

The good news is, there’s a solution that means you don’t need to write-off and replace your data systems to get the required results out of them.  A new class of software – the ‘Intelligent Enterprise Portal’ – is available and lets you repackage and centralize your existing tools and data to drive more value from them than ever before. These sit on top of and provide a consistent interface to multiple existing business applications. They unlock access to reports from legacy tools, enabling users to spend less time searching for data and more time understanding the insights it contains.

So, if your business can’t perform at its best when it should be business as usual, start to think about how centralizing data assets can provide greater value through better visibility.

2. Cookie Cutter solutions just don’t cut it

We all know that one size DOES NOT fit all, however the pandemic and the subsequent rise of the hybrid workplace has highlighted this even further. There needs to be a fundamental change in the way users can interact with analytics and data. Accessing analytics from multiple systems needs to be as quick and simple as using your favorite apps, such as Netflix or Spotify.

Generation X, Y and Z have all been brought up on technology that’s fast, personalized, requires little or no help to set-up and gives them what they want EXACTLY when they need it. User expectations in the workplace are no different to our personal lives, but can the technology live up to these exacting expectations and deliver data and information to users when (or even before) they need it?

The modern enterprise portal adapts to each user with machine-learning based on a user’s behavior and preferences. And with a variety of customization features, users can create their own pages and dashboards with ease – with access to exactly what they need to do their job effectively.

Organizations are under pressure to modernize, and centralization is a key component to help keep up with these multi-generational demands. By adding an Intelligent Enterprise portal to your road map you can re-package your existing portfolio of old and new analytics and BI systems, and create an experience across them all that’s fast, discoverable, personal, smart and data driven whilst still retaining back-end control – there’s no downside surely?

3. Time literally is money

If the success of your business depends on taking action on insights, then using an enterprise portal will allow you to centralize the tools you need in order to act on that data. This means that you can move sooner rather than later with speed and quality decisions. (Read more here)

When everyone in the organization is working with the same data and insights, your company will be well-placed to deliver enhanced and personal user experiences. With centralized data, it’s easier to get every department in-sync to deliver the same messages and experiences consistently, businesses can perform better, drive revenue and boost customer satisfaction.

Removing obstacles to centralization with Digital Hive

Ultimately, if you can centralize your data you will be well-positioned to make better business decisions. When data is decentralized and disorganized, it becomes an obstacle rather than an asset. Intelligent Enterprise portals are the new wave in enterprise technology and enable you to push powerful insights to teams through AI based on roles, department, or user preferences.

Regardless of what is driving you to centralization Digital Hive can offer an intelligent solution that is fit for any user or use case.  Intelligent portals should be at the heart of any modern business because they’ll help you to achieve more than you ever thought possible.

To find out more about Digital Hive’s Intelligent Enterprise Portal and how we can help you start your centralization journey with ease, get in touch.

Centralize and cut costs: Is it time to rethink an Enterprise Portal?

Centralize and cut costs: Is it time to rethink an Enterprise Portal?

Organizations today are faced with more decision-making challenges than ever before. This is due to the sheer volume of data, disparate sources, and breadth of information that they must process to operate effectively—not to mention their competitors’ efforts to outmaneuver them at every turn.

Traditional business intelligence (BI) helps organizations make better decisions. However, all these tools can’t solve all the challenges companies face. Technology, process, and people are three key pillars of transformation. Technology will and is constantly changing and innovating and optimizing platforms and processes is the key to leveraging and delivering insights in the fastest and most effective way. Could an enterprise portal be the ticket you’ve been waiting for all this time?

Businesses need to become more intelligent, which means they need to make their organization more agile. They need to be able to adapt quickly and correctly, but in order do that they need a modern platform for insight delivery from multiple tools. To deliver such a platform organization should invest in an Intelligent Enterprise Portal (IEP).

“Highly successful agile transformations typically delivered around 30 percent gains in efficiency, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance; made the organization five to ten times faster; and turbocharged innovation.” McKinsey & Company

This all sounds nice… but is it a necessity for all businesses? In this article we’ll highlight how enterprise portals can help businesses cut costs dramatically but drive value at the same time. We’ll also cover what an enterprise portal is, how it works, and why it shouldn’t be perceived as a ‘nice to have’.

 

What is an Enterprise Portal?

An enterprise portal is a central information hub that provides users with real-time access to critical organizational data and information. It acts as a web-based platform that combines all your existing business’s analytics and intelligence sources (on-premises and cloud), giving users a consistent interface across multiple technologies and a direct route to what they need. Over and above having a centralized analytics experience, the right intelligent enterprise portal can provide your users with that extra layer of value they need by learning from user behavior patterns, history, and peer activity (Learn more here)

 

Death by multiple systems?

Regardless of a user’s role in the business, most if not all the daily activities carried out involve manual processes because the people involved don’t have a direct route to the information they need, which leads to duplication of effort and the subsequent delays that come with it.

For example, let’s say there is a problem with an order. For a team – whether customer-facing or internal – to solve it, they need access to information across 25 different systems and applications. That’s 25 different platforms with 25 different logins, 25 different looking portals, 25 different ways to navigate around a platform, 25 different ways to extract information, 25 portals that don’t know or understand the user… the list goes on. Based on this example, a user is wasting 37.5 mins simply logging in and accessing what they need – they haven’t even started on the ‘solving‘ part.

Employees spend 10+ hours each week searching for information (The Economic Times)

Lost productivity and profits

Accessing, navigating, and managing multiple systems affects your bottom line. It’s as simple as that. We’re talking about hours and days lost, reducing the productivity of your employees, and impacting their engagement and morale. In essence, businesses are paying people to ‘waste time’.

In most businesses where a lack of efficiency is called into question, it is usually down to people spending too much time on their mobile devices, standing chatting at the coffee machine, or blaming a meeting that overruns. But in today’s technology driven world, could scenarios like the one above (managing 25 different platforms) be:

  • Costing you in dollars, time, and productivity?
  • Demoralizing employees?
  • The reason for low productivity and engagement?
  • Contributing towards low adoption of BI across the business?
  • Preventing the creation of a data-driven culture?
  • Stopping you from becoming a smarter organization?

So, in a year’s time, how much money might you be losing?

 

Keep it simple and centralized with an Enteprise Portal

The pressure to stay competitive is growing and businesses that digitally transform are better places because they are able to use analytics and information to make quick and informed decisions. Focus needs to be on the user, their experience, and what information they have at their disposal. Are in-efficient processes and disconnected technologies hindering the business’s success?

By replacing the multiple portal experience with a centralized view of critical information and analytics across existing systems and technologies – all within one unified interface – allows users to see what’s happening now and what’s coming up next.

This will not only save users time and eliminate in-efficiencies, but it can also help users make better, faster decisions across your organization.

To find out how Digital Hive can help you drive change and centralize, contacts us today!

 

Higher Education Is Hurting – Data Can Help (COVID 2020 )

Higher Education Is Hurting – Data Can Help (COVID 2020 )

Those of us preaching the power of data – on LinkedIn, on stage at keynotes, and at yearly budgeting meetings – prescribe data as the solution to all problems. However, we all know the execution of a powerful analytics strategy is often more challenging than anticipated.  These challenges are especially severe in higher education, even before operating in the midst of a global pandemic and looming economic recession. Now, the hurdles seem larger than ever. Budgets are being significantly reduced or frozen, analytics teams are being defunded and paralyzed in the face of uncertainty. Yet, the greatest action universities can take today, one thing they can control, is to double down on data. Those who choose to do will evolve and emerge stronger. Those who don’t, may not survive.

Adoption is essential

Higher education has always been slow to adopt new technology, which I think is understandable. Universities are large and complex. They have many layers of leadership and often rely on external funding. It’s this complexity that makes data such a valuable asset for university decision making, and in the past decade, major strides have been made to introduce data & analytics tools across departments. The results of these changes, however, have been slow to surface.

One of the reasons that data investments are seeing less than stellar returns, is a product of the university’s organization and structure. Many groups operate independently from one another – especially when it comes to technology purchasing decisions – and this has resulted in a variety of siloed tools and technologies. 

However, efforts have been made to create university-wide analytics councils and information management teams, but working backwards to resolve the existing incompatibility of different technologies is still difficult. 

Now as we start to see valuable information being generated by many different departments, having an awareness or sight of key information that could be a saving grace to universities in crisis-mode is critical.  However accessing, sharing, and acting on this information quickly is still next to impossible.

Everything in one place

Pomona College Branded as ‘ConnectTo’, Pomona’s advancement department used Digital Hive and created a single, unified information portal bringing together IBM Cognos, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, and SSRS. Last year, Pomona College won a National Silver CASE Award with ‘ConnectTo’.  Now, users have one place to go to easily find reports, dashboards, documents, training materials and more.

This has resulted in greater efficiency and productivity across departments, an increase in adoption (more than quadrupled), a reduction in technology management costs, and has directly impacted decision making in regards to fundraising campaigns.

Future-Proofing

While actively investing in new technology projects during a period of uncertainty may seem risky, the greatest risk is in retreating to the status quo. In all areas of our society, both in business and our personal lives, we have experienced a steady increase in digital transformation. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is not creating a new normal, it has simply accelerated the inevitable evolution of how we behave and interact. For many businesses who made digital investments early on, this period will mark an opportunity to accelerate past the competition. For others, it’s a wake-up call that the train is leaving the station, and immediate action is required. Unfortunately for the rest, a lack of action when times are good and when times are bad, will result in devastating consequences.

Click here to read more about howDigital Hive ransformed Pomona College’s fundraising efforts or book a demo to see Digital Hive in action. 

Does Gartner’s “Cool Vendor” Report Mean Anything?

Does Gartner’s “Cool Vendor” Report Mean Anything?

Every year, Gartner, one of the world’s leading IT research companies, publishes a Cool Vendor Report highlighting new technologies in Analytics and Data Science. This year, Digital Hive (formally known as Theia) received this recognition. Previous Gartner Cool Vendors include Tableau, Snowflake, and Looker just to name a few. Many CDO’s and CTO’s use Gartner to help successfully guide their IT strategy and technology purchasing decisions.

So, does being named a Gartner Cool Vendor mean anything to Digital HiveYES!

The Intersection of Need and Solution

Gartner analysts are some of the most informed middle-men in the world. Working with both technology vendors and enterprise data leaders, they sit at an incredibly valuable intersection of information. It’s at this intersection that Gartner is able to provide value, having 1000’s of conversations a year on both sides of the fence, identifying emerging challenges and the technologies that will provide a solution. 

Validation of Enterprise Need

For Digital Hive, being named a Gartner Cool Vendor is a validation that the use of many BI & Analytics tools within large enterprises is creating real problems for end-users with BI Adoption, Data Literacy, and meaningful ROI. Companies are now in a full-sprint race to go digital, maximize the value of their data, and provide more meaningful experiences. Without frictionless access to information, meaningful data literacy education, and a push for greater user adoption, many companies are going to see the millions they invested in data & analytics go down the drain.

Even more, we now have the validation that a multi-tool tech stack is NOT going away. Co-existence is needed. If consolidating to a single BI tool is on your roadmap, be forewarned it’s a long, expensive, and ever-changing journey. Every year innovations in data & analytics produce new tools and vendors, making it necessary for companies to keep pace and maintain a competitive edge.

A Rise in Vendor Competition

For many, competition in the marketplace is a threat. For Digital Hive, seeing the recent increase in competition indicates that there IS a marketplace for our Analytic Hub solution and that we are providing much-needed value.

We welcome new competitors as we work towards a common goal –  increase awareness of the value in Analytics Hubs, Analytics Catalogs, and data literacy support.

Why Digital Hive is the Best Analytics Hub Solution 

That being said, Digital Hive was the first Analytics Hub solution to identify and solve the market need of bringing enterprise BI together. The first-mover advantage has allowed us to evolve and innovate more quickly than our competitors and provide increased value to our clients as their needs change.

Digital Hive is uniquely differentiated as the only true technology-agnostic analytics hub that allows users to interact with the full-functionality of different reports and dashboards seamlessly within the experience.

Most of the competition in our space only provides a functional analytics catalog (or is yet another BI tool in disguise). Digital Hive is the only true Analytics Hub. In addition to an Analytics Catalog Digital Hive enables end-users to create interactive Data Storyboards using reports from different tools, and contextualize information with presentations, video, RSS feeds, and custom messaging. 

This means that clients can unlock the full power of Data Storytelling and Data Literacy support. Every department, persona, partner, or client receives relevant and tailored information supported by context.

Only Digital Hive can do that.

Learn how

How You Can Use Digital Hive Today

Digital Hive has clients in every vertical, all around the world – Financial Services, Healthcare, Higher Education, Manufacturing, Retail, and more. With out-of-the-box connectors to 18 major information systems and a Custom API connector, any business can bring their choice of BI & Analytics tools together and benefit with Digital Hive.

Want to learn more? Book a 30 min demo today!

Gartner Cool Vendors 2020 Announced

Gartner Cool Vendors 2020 Announced

Digital Hive has been named a 2020 Gartner Cool Vendor in Analytics and Data Science

With the average organization using 3.8 different BI solutions, and the number of different business roles wanting to analyze the data increasing, it’s critical that businesses make it easy for users to leverage, share and scale the analytics value from different systems that have been generated before. 

According to Gartner’s report, published May 7th, 2020: 

“Organizations are struggling to manage analytics content from different tools. This hinders the ability to share and scale the use of analytics, and limits adoption as users fail to find and compile the insights that have been generated before.”

Garter recommend that one way this can be achieved is by

establishing an easily accessible portal that has single access to the analytics content built by multiple existing analytics solutions.

Gartner’s definition of a Cool Vendor is “a small company offering a technology or service that is: innovative — enables users to do things they couldn’t do before, impactful — has or will have a business impact — not just technology for its own sake, intriguing — has caught Gartner’s interest during the past six months.”

Why is Digital Hive Cool?

Digital Hive’s technology consolidates key information assets across an entire organization in one convenient and digestible place, giving users real-time access to the relevant information they contain through a single point of entry.  

Digital Hive (formally known as Theia) connects to analytics and BI tools platforms such as ThoughtSpot, Tableau, Qlik, IBM Cognos as well as standard document systems such as Google Drive, SharePoint, Box and social media platforms

Digital Hive’s analytics catalog addresses a real pain point impacting organizations using multiple analytics and BI tools — giving business users a single point of access and thereby providing visibility, governance and control.

Click here to read Gartner’s full report – link off to Gartner.


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