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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 Enterprise 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!
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.
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.
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.
Click hereto read Gartner’s full report – link off to Gartner.
Gartner Disclaimer: The GARTNER COOL VENDOR badge is a trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s Research & Advisory organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
As companies race to find value in their data and improve the customer experience, many have overlooked an obvious value-add: providing analytics for the customer. Client-facing analytics differentiates companies from the competition, helping increase market share, retention, and even direct revenue if packaged and productized.
Why aren’t all companies doing this already? The data is there, and the reporting, dashboards, and visualizations are plenty.
One of the most difficult aspects of trying to provide analytics to customers is delivering a complete, appealing product. With analytics coming from a variety of internal business intelligence tools, packaging all of this information is far from easy. Both internal and external, users desire a seamless analytics experience. If bringing all of this content together into a single user experience wasn’t challenging enough, each experience needs to be tailored for various audiences.
On top of wrangling content, curating different experiences, and creating a pretty product – facilitating understanding is also a challenge. Chief Data Officers are tasked with fostering data culture, increasing BI adoption, and improving data literacy. However, these initiatives shouldn’t be limited to the internal organization. Companies need to extend this concentration to clients and partners as well.
The Ideal Customer Analytics Portal
Given the needs and challenges discussed above, let’s describe the ideal external analytics portal for clients and partners:
In summary, companies should aim to deliver analytics both internally and externally to clients and partners to maximize the value of data and grow together with strong data-informed relationships using an analytics portal.
The ideal analytics portal integrates reports and visualizations from all of your different BI tools, allows for the curation of content for different groups including data literacy support, and provides an attractive and easy to use experience.
Why Act Now?
If you provide your clients with informative analytics to help them grow their businesses, your business will become an irreplaceable source of value. If you DON’T provide your clients and partners with analytics, someone else will.
The demand for analytics is continually increasing as companies use data to drive decision making. If you are not providing clients with informative analytics to help them grow their business, how are you ensuring that your service will not become an irreplaceable source of value?
Offer your clients a service that goes above and beyond the competition. Replace any frustrations by giving them full autonomy over their analytics environment.
How to create a Customer Portal with Digital Hive
Read more about our enterprise portal solutions, or get in touch, if you want to chat about customer analytics portals – we can show you how simple it is to get set up!
Book a demo with a member of the team. See the full Digital Hive experience as well as some of the branded customer portals we’ve created.
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 …