Leveraging Data Visualization for Greater Insights

As the influx of data continues to consume organizations, marketers are overwhelmed at sorting through it all to gain effective insights.  Data visualization can help, according to Amanda Gessert, senior manager of business intelligence at Merkle, who took part in a Data Summit 2015 session called “Increasing Your Productivity Through Data Visualization.”

She stressed the importance of data visualization for not just reporting but also as a tool to be leveraged throughout the analytics lifecycle.

“Why should we care?” Gessert said. “Between 70- 80% of corporate BI projects fail and that’s a really big number especially if you are going to invest time and money in these projects.”

Business Intelligence is in a state right now that’s very different from where it was a few years ago and it’s changing much more quickly, Gessert explained. “There are a lot of components of that change,” Gessert said. “There are changes in deployment strategies and changes in who is exactly doing the deployment. It went from waterfall driven deployment strategies to business users saying we are frustrated waiting 10 months to see what marketing campaign is doing.”

Because of this evolving landscape Merkle developed a solution called Insights, Gessert said. It’s an analytics platform that converges two things, data discovery and old school thought idea of reporting with those key BI’s, according to Gessert.

“[There’s] been a big shift to take the load off those statisticians to create a more front end platform where marketers, business users, and even just lighter marketing analytics folks can start doing some experimentations with heavy statistics  to help drive some of the effectiveness of marketing campaigns without having to reinvent the wheel every time,” Gessert said.

The solution runs Hadoop and Cloudera on backend and utilizes SQL Server as sandbox, allowing it to go through aggregated data.

Along with Hadoop and Cloudera, the solution runs R as it analytics engine and uses Tableau to produce the actual reports. “We are leveraging data visualization through a user-friendly interface so it ultimately provides insights through the analytics lifecycle,” Gessert said.

Visualization is great way to gain insight regardless of where it’s taking place in the analytics lifecycle. “With insight comes a lot of responsibility,” Gessert said. “If analysts are putting information out into sphere, it’s their responsibility to understand the business question, what’s underlying it, and how that data is going to be used so that you’re really providing good information and affective insights.”

To access Data Summit 2015 presentations, go here.