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Top Trends in Business Intelligence for Associations for 2014

Top Trends in Business Intelligence for Associations for 2014
Tableau software recently compiled their set of Top Ten Business Intelligence Trends for 2014. Not all of these trends will be impacting the association space. Some of these trends are more relevant in the corporate space, but could become more relevant as more time passes and technologies are less expensive and accessible. In this blog we will review the trends compiled by Tableau as well go in depth on the trends that will directly affect you and what you should do about it.
Below is the Top Ten list as published by Tableau.

  1. The end of data scientists. Data science moves from the specialist to the everyman. Familiarity with data analysis becomes part of the skill set of ordinary business users, not experts with “analyst” in their titles.
  2. Cloud business intelligence goes mainstream. Organizations that want to get up & running fast with analytics drive adoption of cloud-based business intelligence. The maturation of cloud services helps IT departments get comfortable with business intelligence in the cloud.
  3. Big data finally goes to the sky. Cloud data warehouses like Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery transform the process of building out a data warehouse from a months-long process to a matter of days.  This enables rapid prototyping and a level of flexibility that previously was not possible.
  4. Agile business intelligence extends its lead. Self-service analytics becomes the norm at fast-moving companies. Business people begin to expect flexibility and usability from their dashboards.
  5. Predictive analytics. Once the realm of advanced and specialized systems, will move into the mainstream as businesses seek forward-looking rather than backward-looking insight from data.
  6. Embedded BI begins to emerge, in an attempt to put insight directly in the path of business activities.  Analytics start to live inside of transactional systems.  Ultimately, embedded BI will bring data to departments that have typically lagged: for example, on the shop floor and in retail environments.
  7. Storytelling becomes a priority, as people realize that a dashboard deluge without context is not helpful. Stories become a way to communicate ideas and insights using data. They also help people gain meaning from an overwhelming mass of big and disparate data.
  8. For leading-edge organizations, mobile business intelligence becomes the primary experience, not an occasional experience. Business users begin to demand access to information within the natural flow of their day, not back at their desks.
  9. Organizations begin to analyze social data in earnest, gaining insight beyond number of their likes and followers. Social data becomes a proxy for brand awareness and attitude, as well as fertile ground for competitive analysis.  Companies begin to use social data to understand how relevant they are to their customers.
  10. NoSQL is the new Hadoop. Organizations explore how to use unstructured data. NoSQL technologies become more popular as companies seek ways to assimilate this kind of data.  But in 2014, the intelligent use of unstructured data will still be the exception and not the norm.

 
Of these trends, only some will impact your association in 2014.  Below we have provided you information on the relevant trends to take to your executives to make sure you can stay ahead of the Business Intelligence curve.

  1. The end of data scientists. Most associations don’t have the resources for full time data scientists. Instead associations are putting the power of data-driven decisions in the hands of staff across departments. Staff will be trained on analytical skills that can be applied to their daily routine and need for information.
  2. Cloud business intelligence goes mainstream. Cloud-based solutions help associations to more quickly and often more economically begin using business intelligence. It also puts the data in the hands of everyone and anyone with internet access. Data belongs to the association business staff and the IT staff facilitates the management of this important asset.
  3. Agile business intelligence extends its lead. In the association space, DSK incorporates key aspects of agile processes to business intelligence initiatives because it dramatically increases the probability of a successful outcome. Typically, associations do require an estimate up front for budgeting purposes, but the scope and development are best performed in an agile, iterative fashion. See our blog post from last year about Agile Business Intelligence.
  4. Storytelling becomes a priority. We often believe data is a flat object, but viewed in context it has the power to tell a story about what is really happening.  We believe that through data discovery, association staff can learn to understand the story their data is telling. And once the story is understood the story, you have the power to can change the ending! Through the use of interactive data visualizations, your data can be analyzed in ways not thought of previously. 

Can you see your association following these business intelligence trends in 2014?

How to Choose the Right Visualization for your Association

Choosing the right data visualization is as important as choosing the right outfit to wear to an important meeting. Although your alma mater’s sweatshirt is perfect for the ball game, a suit and tie is more appropriate when trying to convince your board to increase your budget. Similarly, you are going to catch some flack for showing up to the game in a suit and tie! Choosing the right visualization for your audience is similar to choosing the right outfit for the function.
Did you know that the human brain is able to process images three times faster than text? From our primitive beginning, we’ve depended on our brain’s ability to detect subtle patterns and interpret meaning. So, how do you choose the right visualization? Let’s take a look at some common types of visualization and when they should be used to effectively communicate the story your data is telling.

Tabular

table

  • Best used when exact quantities of numbers must be known.
  • Numbers are presented in rows and columns and may contain summary information, such as averages or totals.
  • This format is NOT favorable to finding trends and comparing sets of data because it is hard to analyze sets and numbers and the presentation is cumbersome with larger data sets. It is estimated that the visual working memory has a capacity of about seven items. This means that you can store up to 7 bits of information (like numbers) in your brain’s “RAM” simultaneously. If you build a table with financial information for each month of the year for different areas of your association, it becomes difficult to find outliers or even the most profitable month.
  • This kind of visualization is likely what many association staff are accustomed to (think of all those excel spreadsheets floating around your office) so you may need to use a tabular format in conjunction with one of the other types listed below to convey the information.
  • A variation of the tabular chart is a highlight table. A highlight table applies color to the cell based on its value. The use of color can make outliers stand out more.

 Line Charts

line chart

  • Best used when trying to visualize continuous data over time.
  • Line charts use a common scale and are ideal for showing trends in data over time.
  • Example: membership or registrant counts throughout the year compared to previous years.
  • Trend lines and goal lines can also be added to compare actual counts with certain benchmarks.

Bar Charts

bar chart

  • Best used when showing comparisons between categories.
  • The bars are proportional to the values they represent and can be shown either horizontally or vertically. One axis of the chart shows the specific categories being compared, and the other axis represents discrete values.
  • Example: Bar charts can be helpful when looking at certain segments of your customers, registrants or members.
  • Goal lines can also be added to compare the actual counts with your benchmarks.
  • A variation of the bar chart is the stacked bar chart. This incorporates the use of color to visually show how certain segments add up to the total. In the example above, it’s easy to see that while 2010 Conference attendance counts are higher, the number of Paid attendees actually decreased from the previous year.
  • Another variation of the bar chart is called a bullet chart. This chart allows you to take a single measure (for example, revenue) and compare it to another measure (for example, revenue goal). It also can display percentiles.

bullet chart

Pie Charts

pie chart

  • Best used to compare parts to the whole.
  • Pie charts make it easy for an audience to understand the relative importance of values.
  • Using this format for more than 5 sections is not recommended as it can become difficult to compare the results. Too many sections make interpretation difficult because the difference between the sections can become too narrow to effectively interpret.
  • Often, even when wanting to compare parts to the whole, a bar chart can be more effective.

In addition to difference chart types, the use of filters and sorting is important to increase the association staff person’s ability to explore the data in more detail.
The goal of any visualization should be to communicate the information in the most concise and impactful way by using the appropriate visualizations for your data.  Effective visualizations enable your audience to quickly understand the story in the data and speeds the ability for association staff to reach key insights.

Gartner Magic Quadrant Positions DSK Partner Tableau as Leading Analytics Software

BI software quadrant

Gartner Magic Quadrant Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms


Gartner Review: Tableau
Gartner is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. It defines the business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform market as a software platform that delivers 15 capabilities across three categories: integration, information delivery and analysis. DSK has partnered with Tableau to bring analytics to the association community.
Data is an asset.  Associations today know that decisions based on data tend to be better decisions and organizations that use data to make decisions tend to be more successful than others. DSK rigorously evaluated BI platforms to provide the optimal performance for the association community and its unique data and organizational goals. DSK can interpret the story the data is telling and show how to harness the opportunities hidden within the extended data environment – including ‘Big Data’.  DSK helps association staff understand their data visually in order to lead and safely navigate the future.
Please contact us to learn how data-guided decisions can impact membership, sales, event attendance and more. info@associationanalytics.com 703-534-9140.
 
Debbie_Profile_2011

Debbie King is the CEO and founder of DSK Solutions, Inc.