The Blog

Old Data? Give it New Life

Rich data is only as useful as people’s access to it.  In the enterprise, legacy databases are the norm.  Problems arise, however, when considering how to grant secure access to the data, as well as how to make the data relevant to the user.

One solution to the accessibility and usability of data is to turn to the web to serve as a secure conduit, making the data accessible to users who do not have easy access to it.  As the data access needs of geographically dispersed staff are considered, for example, it becomes clear that a data-driven web application can be the solution.  Delivery of data via a web application provides:

  • Security
  • Interactivity
  • Real-time data updates
  • Opportunities for comparative analysis

Comparative data, or trending data, can be visualized through infographics: using interactive graphs, charts and other imagery to help data ‘come to life’ for the viewer.


Up the Volume of Data Sharing Using Google Data Studio

Google took a giant step towards helping organizations get the most out of their data. Using an existing data source, such as Google Analytics or multiple spreadsheets, the new web-based Google Data Studio makes it possible to create interactive visualizations of data that can be easily shared. The streamlined process really is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. import data
  2. visualize data
  3. share data

All data has a story to tell. The challenge is how to bring that story to life in an impactful, yet cost-effective manner. Stories are to be shared and Google Data Studio is the tool that can help:

  • Create data visualizations to easily provide insight into your organization’s data activity
  • Identify and track data trends
  • Support informed decisions regarding future application direction
  • Provide additional insight into data project ROI

Once a report is done, share it via static PDF or grant permission to colleagues to view and edit the report via the Google Data Studio dashboard.  Authorized colleagues can collaborate on the report real-time, such as changing the date range of the report to track data trends.

The Google Data Studio design and development team delivered in terms of launching an intuitive tool that is flexible for those users who want more, such as:

  • The ability to style the reports to complement your organization’s brand
  • The option to add non-imported content via manual content blocks
  • Options which make raw data easier to consume by non-analytics staff
  • The ability to create and save report templates

The bottom line is that Google Data Studio may help your organization get more value from your data. Still in beta, it is expected that Google will continue to add features and functionality. For example, the tool does not currently support the import of behavior flow graphs from Google Analytics.

So give Google Data Studio a test drive to see if your organization can reap its benefits. There are numerous options for learning to use Google Data Studio or reach out to a consultant to help you get started.




Enough about Big Data…….Let’s Talk Little Data and How to Capitalize on It

Has all the talk about the significance of “big data” left your company stymied about where to start?

At the 10,000 foot level, we turn to data, big or small, to help inform our business decisions. Where should research dollars be spent? Which marketing campaigns are having an impact? Do we have a clear understanding of our company’s competitive advantage?

These questions can be informed by analyzing “little data”. Think of little data as “small dose” data. Little nuggets of gold that we likely already have at our fingertips via data analytics, legacy databases, or possibly government managed, public data sets.

But whatever the source of the “little data”, it’s significance will partly be determined based upon how that data is shared. Simply having access to the data does not provide value. You need to decide how best to make that data consumable by your audience, regardless of whether the audience is your executive management team, your sales team or current and potential clients.

Let’s take a look at some of the contemporary options for using the web to effectively share “little data” in ways that will help your organization capitalize on the data’s full value:

  • Web and mobile data reporting enables users to select filters and display relevant data real-time. In simple terms, a front-facing, user-friendly interface enables non-technical users to manipulate the database to display data based upon selected filters. It is possible that the online report may combine data from more than one data source. This can be an effective way for an organization to enhance their internal data with complementary data from a different source. For example, for some of our biotech clients, we combine data from their internal sources with additional data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Infographics are a way of combining text with images as a mechanism for sharing data content. Infographics can be static (meaning they don’t have any moving parts) or interactive (which allows users to solicit action by hovering or clicking with their mouse). The significance of infographics is that they are typically very engaging and easily scanned by the eye. So within a few seconds, the user can get a quick snapshot to start to understand the data. As an example, check out this infographic developed for Consumers Union to share healthcare value strategies.
  • Decision support tools are a mechanism for making data accessible to users for the purpose of making an informed decision. As an example, the New York State Department of Health sponsors a Consumers’ Guide to Health Insurance. Using data compiled from the health department, as well as the New York State Department of Finance, the web application provides easy-to-access, filterable data regarding quality and complaint data on health insurance providers. This is the value of decision support tools: bringing hard-to-access data into the hands of people trying to make an informed choice.
  • Real-time calculators are way to provide an “if-then” experience to the user. An interactive online report is developed that includes user input fields. The user enters the inputs and clicks ‘submit.’ An online report, reflecting the specific scenario entered by the user, is then displayed. Calculators can be useful for displaying data related to revenue impact, budget trends, healthcare outcomes, etc.
  • Animations are becoming increasingly popular as a mechanism for engaging and sharing data in a unique way. Using animations can be particularly effective for training and education purposes. The process of creating these types of animations includes transforming the designed animations into small videos which are then played within the browser. Tools such as Canvas are helping to make the creation of animations more easily attainable. The Washington Post did a great job using animations to educate about the benefits of fitting in workouts while at the office.

The bottom line: determine if your organization has “little data” that isn’t being put to its best use. If so, it’s time to start strategizing about how you can capitalize on the data to support your organization’s short- and long-term goals.