Opinion: Jonathan Priestley, Senior Vice President with MultiTaction provides examples of how large scale interactive visualisation democratises big data by letting leadership teams really get in touch with the big picture.
Once you have coped with all the issues around the four Vs of big data – volume, velocity, veracity and variety – you need a fifth V to start making sense of it. Many vendors provide business with the ability to import data from every conceivable database and slice and dice it in many different ways to generate insights through powerful visualisation.
However, too often these visualisations are small snapshots in a little window as opposed to a dynamic big picture that lets you look at disparate data sources in parrallel. In addition to visualisation you need the viewing technology that can display information from a wide range of systems and allow leaders to interact with it to derive actionable outcomes.
Without this you have the common scenario of senior decision-makers coming together to review static reports only to grow frustrated because they cannot question and interact with information to get the insights they need. What follows is a request for further information and the conclusion of the meeting without any actionable outcomes.
The Gartner report, Magic Quadrant for BI & Analytics Platforms 2015 highlighted how business demands interactive styles of analysis and advanced analytics without the need for IT or data science skills. One of the key requirements identified when it came to enabling, producing and consuming data, was a set of robust tools to visualise the data in meaningful ways that are interactive.
Over in Canada at the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors basketball team, a new facility designed by IBM Interactive Experience and powered by IBM Watson cognitive business technology provides some useful lessons on what works.
There the big data includes trade-off analytics which assess possible team roster combinations against a variety of criteria and a personality insights module with linguistic analytics to understand player personality and social characteristics that align with organisational culture. And there is also the facility to further analyse public news sources to round out player profiles.
So far so good when it comes gathering, analysing and visualising data! But people need the means to interact with the data in a meaningful and dynamic way. In the Toronto Raptors case, the answer was the creation of a special ‘War Room’ which uses interactive touch-screens, formatted in table and wall formats, to show data visualisations and help better understand the data through touch screen interaction.
In an interview with IT World Canada, the Raptors’ Ujiri described the War Room as unbelievable, noting that the world has become more analytical and there was a need to collect a lot more data to be successful. One of the key objectives of the project was to push the efficiency agenda and remove the manual process for the team’s depth-charts (showing starting and secondary players), scouting reports, trade scenarios, and player comparisons, along with bringing in more analytical data.
Jamal Lacour, the application architect for IBM Interactive Global Business Services, told the same publication that before the advent of the War Room, the team analysed its depth chart through colour-coded magnets on a whiteboard. Now the depth chart is at the centre of the War Room and on display across the nine displays.
Closer to home, London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company equipped its boardroom with a state-of-the-art interactive touch screen that is just shy of six metres wide and over two metres high. The screen gives businesses that use The Tower Room the opportunity to explore the features and benefits of cutting-edge technology for visualisation and collaboration.
Alex Kinchin-Smith, Director of Projects and Programmes said, "Since we installed the technology in the boardroom, staff have had the opportunity to be more creative and innovative, which has changed our meetings from typical one way presentations to a more collaborative environment where it is possible to generate, review and interact with content either directly on the touch enabled wall or shared from smart devices."
What business really needs in this data driven world in which we now live, is a range of meeting rooms – large and small – where big data from different sources can be brought together in a way which is interactive, intuitive and engaging. The technology used by Toronto Raptors and London & Partners does just that.
Too often the ‘viewer’ is seen as an afterthought because it requires both hardware and software components working together. Most vendors working in this space cannot provide this despite its being an integral piece of the jigsaw. Those that do can provide products specifically designed to help organizations visualise big data, socialize ideas, educate clients and work collaboratively. These interactive solutions support BYOD (bring your own device) and with seamless integration across PCs, smart devices and the interactive displays, users can easily save and access the content at any time.
The ground-breaking work at Toronto Raptors solution provides a faster means to share, visualise and drive time-critical decisions. The team will be the first to benefit and eventually other professional sports franchises will adopt similar solutions. And where high performance sports goes, forward thinking business is sure to follow.