Tag Archives: collaboration

Visualization can help translate analytics insights

What good is data if no one can understand it? Business intelligence suites were created to answer that very question, turning huge amounts of corporate data into useful material for decision-making. However, in some cases, processes may not go far enough. Answering business questions with a string of incomprehensible figures won’t solve anyone’s problems. Organizations need to find a way to not only process a huge range of information sources but also present the results in a coherent and sensible way. Data visualization techniques, employed by some of today’s leading BI suites, may be the answer to this quandary, representing an evolution of the analytics concept.

The case for visualization
ARC Advisory Group recently explained that difficulty of use is keeping some businesses away from using BI. This is a huge problem, as the technology can provide expert guidance and seems on pace to become an industry standard. The source went on to note that there is little time to get users up to speed on solutions that aren’t immediately resonant. If the technology fails to catch on at many levels, it may end up having a minimal impact on company culture. ARC explained that this is where interactive graphics come in, resonant to look at and updated often.

The perception of analytics without a visual element may be poor. According to ARC, managers may not prioritize learning to read a stream of raw insights from BI processes that are not user-friendly. This makes sense in a way, as there are many things for these leaders to take care of today. Still, if there’s one source of information that should be heeded, it’s the output from BI. Graphical interfaces and vibrant visuals can take several forms, and companies should choose the one that’s right for them. While ARC suggested a few that were limited in either functionality or industry, other solutions are more universal.

Getting the right visual features
One major benefit of visualization is the potential to expand BI use well beyond power users and place the software in everyone’s hands. Solutions such as Panorama Necto 14 leverage these techniques to this end. The software can deliver a number of different selections of data in a visual format, either tailoring the graphs to the specialized needs of business department staff members or the more trained eyes of the longtime analysts. There are also ways to ensure that many employees see a current infographic, allowing leaders to spread their findings to every department that can benefit from them.

Does Business Intelligence Continue to Grow in Health Care Industry

Business intelligence can be put to use in any industry, as it has near-limitless applications as long as there is data to be analyzed, and it is growing increasingly popular among health care facilities. The latest market research report from MarketsandMarkets indicated this sector of BI is growing nearly twice as fast as the overall BI market. As more health providers begin to take advantage of data analysis, it is likely that they will find even more ways to put collected data to work to improve everything from patient care to hospital administration and cost-savings.

Health care market embraces business intelligence
A report released in February by Research and Markets predicted that the overall BI market would see a compound annual growth rate of 8.9 percent between 2013 and 2018. While this is impressive, the health care sector’s expected growth outshines it dramatically. The MarketsandMarkets research found that the market for BI in the health industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.8 percent in the same period.

It’s likely that the health care industry will show more interest in mobile BI and cloud BI, as technologies in the field are expanding in these directions as well.

Putting data analysis to work in health care field
“We, as a society, need to start creating our own metrics for how health care quality is defined,” said Dr. Anil Jain, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Explorys, according to InformationWeek. “In the sense of looking at costs, we know where there’s avoidable cost in health care. We just need to get folks the data they need to avoid those pitfalls.”

Analyzing patient data can give medical professionals insight into everything from daily emergency room admission rates to rehospitalization risks that can help them improve care delivery, cut costs and create a better environment for doctors and patients. InformationWeek highlighted the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which used data analysis to predict whether patients would need long-term care, emergency services or repeat appointments. By examining the patient data, the hospital was able to improve patient care.

Health care professionals interested in getting the most out of data analysis might want to look for a BI solution like Necto 14. Panorama’s latest software offering puts the power of analytics into the employees’ hands. The dashboard is intuitive and user-friendly, which makes it easy for anyone to collect and manipulate data, even if they are not data experts.

Businesses turn to collaborative BI to get things done

There are plenty of advantages to employing business intelligence tools in your business, and it can be even more useful when various members of the company can collaborate on projects. Of the many trends evolving around business intelligence, collaborative BI is growing rapidly as more and more enterprises embrace the team approach to data analysis. As the expression goes, two heads are better than one when it comes to putting data analytics to work for a business, as teamwork can allow good ideas to flourish whether choosing which data to use for a given project and how to interpret the analysis.

Interest in collaborative BI grows
Dresner Advisory Services recently released its third annual Wisdom of Crowds® Collaborative Business Intelligence Market Study, and the results made it clear that collaboration is key when it comes to analyzing data with a BI solution. The survey revealed that this aspect of business analytics was important to more than 60 percent of surveyed businesses around the world, according to Midsize Insider.

“… this year there is a rebound in interest in collaborative BI, placing it above such high-profile topics such as big data and social media,” Howard Dresner, the organizations founder and chief research officer, explained. “In addition, we see a much closer alignment between the tools and capabilities that users want and the features and functions that vendors are incorporating into their offerings.”

Harness benefits of collaborative BI
The ability to combine analytics with social applications and crowd-sourcing opens up a world of possibilities for using data to improve operations and strategies. Working with others on a project involving data can make it easier to interpret the information and determine the best way to use the analytics to make changes to current and future projects and operations.

It helps to have a BI solution that makes collaboration easier, and Panorama has software that can satisfy this needs. Necto 14 takes teamwork to the next level by offering options for collaboration along every step of the process from determining what raw data to use to analyzing that information to organizing it with data visualisation. The software allows multiple people to work simultaneously on the same projects, as they can make notes on various infographics, charts and other data and share instantly with their team.

Big data trends that impede business intelligence

While business intelligence is seeing continued growth, the rate of expansion has slowed due largely to the way companies approach big data. The latest Gartner report indicated that business intelligence experienced an average 8 percent growth in 2013 across the globe, but no one saw improvements higher than 12 percent. According to Data Center Dynamics, the limited amount companies and their employees know about big data is a major reason behind the slowed growth of BI.

Lack of know-how
Big data, which encompasses massive swaths of information, can seem intimidating for those unprepared to harness the potential of data analytics. The news provider suggested that part of the reason big data remains such a mystery to some is that they don’t know how to best put it to use for their businesses. This encompasses everything from knowing which data to examine when looking at a specific operation or strategy to analyzing and interpreting sets of information and how they relate to one another.

However, firms can invest in a BI solution like Panorama’s Necto 14 that makes it easier to collect and interpret relevant data. This software can suggest which sets of information may be useful for a particular inquiry, giving users the ability to gain valuable insights regarding various departments and processes.

Too much importance
At the same time as businesses are having trouble harnessing big data correctly, many are also placing far too much emphasis on this large pool of information. The focus tends to fall more on the collection and storage of big data and less on data discovery and analysis, according to Venture Beat. Having all of this information is only useful when it is then analyzed and put to use to improve a business. In many instances, this can be due to the lack of know-how when it comes to using the data effectively. The self-service BI tools available in Necto 14 allow any member of an organization to extract and interpret big data so it can serve to help departments make strategic changes to various policies and operations.

These issues will likely diminish as more companies embrace modern and intuitive business intelligence tools that can help them better harness big data. Inquirer.net reported that new applications and software that focus on making big data more accessible will put the power of data analysis in the hands of more workers.

How do you know if your company is ready for business intelligence?

Companies in virtually any industry can benefit from business intelligence, whether they want to improve their marketing strategies, enhance overall operations or monitor production activity. There is some preparatory work that will need to be done before a firm can start effectively collecting and analyzing data with business intelligence tools.

Analyze your business’s BI readiness 
Smart Data Collective recently surveyed more than 60 chief information officers from U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses to find out how various companies were using business intelligence. The researchers asked about each company’s current BI platform and usage and calculated their scores on a scale of 0-100, then categorized responses into five categories from lowest to highest levels of BI maturity.

The results showed that 77 percent of respondents were still in the preliminary stages (nascent and low) of BI development. Nascent companies have either made plans to invest in a BI solution or were just beginning to establish methods of collecting big data. For those that fell into the low category, basic data analytics were readily available, but typically only for a select number of departments within a company.

Determine how you could put BI to use
The survey also revealed that one-third of businesses using BI do so to examine data from the past. While examining the details of sales from the previous quarter can provide insight into how well the business did, companies can also monitor real-time data to get more up-to-date information. Panorama’s latest BI software offering, Necto 14, can easily pull the latest information from a database. The ability to see and analyze data in real-time makes it easier for companies to implement changes when strategies may not measure up to expectations.

Make BI available to everyone
Data analysis can have many uses that span across a company’s operations, so it would make sense to use a BI solution that every department can put to use. Logi Analytics reported that since some employees may not be at all familiar with BI tools, such as dashboards and reporting, companies should select software that is accessible to any user regardless of their familiarity with business intelligence. Working with raw data can be overwhelming for people unfamiliar with IT and data analysis. Necto 14 makes it easy for any employee to determine which information they need, and helps them analyze and organize the information into data visualisation through the use of clear, concise infographics.

Company: Ministry of Sport and Tourism of the Republic of Poland

Needs and Requirements:

One of the tasks of the Ministry is to support activities related to sport and tourism through the provision of financial grants. The grant may cover different areas of the office, such as creation of sports stadiums and sports halls, organizing sporting events, etc. Grantsare provided through various funding programs and are carried out by the relevant departments of the Ministry.

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Company: State of South Carolina

Two years ago, when South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer sought state funds to supplement federal dollars for the South Carolina Office of Aging’s meal program, he knew too many of the state’s senior citizens were hungry and unhealthy.

However, to persuade legislators to vote for those funds, he needed proof ‘ or at least persuasive correlations ‘ between meals and improved health for seniors. Bauer, who heads the Office of Aging, turned to the South Carolina Office of Research and Statistics (ORS), part of the state’s Budget and Control Board.

He wanted the office to show that meals for seniors, paid for with federal funds issued to the state through the Older Americans Act, correlated with better health. Using Panorama’s BI Solution business intelligence (BI) software from Panorama as the front end to a Microsoft SQL Server database, ORS was able to establish that correlation. In June 2006, South Carolina’s state legislature appropriated $2.9 million in state funds for the meal program for the calendar year 2007.

That’s one example of relationships ORS is now finding through its BI tools, incorporating identity-protected data from about 20 state agencies, Medicare, Medicaid, hospitals and other organizations.

‘We can tie funding to programs, agencies, the private sector and nonprofits,’ said Pete Bailey, chief of the 45-person health and demographics group at ORS. ‘We can monitor [funding], evaluate the outcomes and tie them back to continued funding. If a program isn’t successful, the legislature can see that, see where the problem is and fix it.’

ORS’ goal is to use its BI tools to help state agencies and organizations fulfill their missions.   Although it took several years of negotiating with the entities that own the data to get it and then more time to build the databases, ORS is starting to show what it can do with the decision-support tools.   Ultimately, the BI capabilities could add accountability to the political process by measuring the results of policy decisions.   ‘Business intelligence has been widely used in private-sector industries for years,’ said Nigel Pendse, an independent BI analyst, author of the annual Business Intelligence Survey and lead analyst for the Web-only OLAP Report on online analytical processing at www.olapreport.com.   ‘It’s for fast-moving industries to track products and competition, profit and customer profitability,’ he said. ‘Governments are less likely to use these types of products.’   From the ground up   BI software includes the underlying database software or server and the front end, which ‘queries the [database] and represents the results of the queries in different formats,’ Pendse said. Microsoft, SAP, IBM and Oracle are the leaders in the BI field, but ‘the big [companies] do a bad job,’ he said. ‘Most of the surviving small companies do a good job.’   Large companies’ BI products are combinations of different products, Pendse said.   ‘Panorama is better than the others because it has built-from-the-ground-up technology,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t have the integration challenge.   It hasn’t been stitched together from different sources.’

Panorama’s BI Solution, with its dashboard, reporting and analytical capabilities, was selected by ORS because, at the time, it was the only BI tool that could exploit the full power of the online analytical processing and data-mining capabilities of SQL Server. Panorama developed the SQL Server software and sold it to Microsoft in 1996.   ‘After selling the old technology to Microsoft, Panorama built the front end,’ Pendse said. ‘All was happy for 10 years.’   When ORS chose SQL Server, Panorama’s BI Solution was the de facto front-end BI module to extract information from the database.   In the past two years, Microsoft acquired ProClarity, another BI front end, which it is incorporating into SQL Server. ‘Now Microsoft is less likely to feed business to Panorama,’ Pendse said. Consequently, the company is broadening its base of business.   Some experts might not necessarily need a tool like Panorama’s BI Solution to query a database and understand the results. But for employees at ORS, the tool makes accessing and using databases much easier.   Five or six years ago, before the office started using BI tools, ‘statisticians had to manually aggregate all the data,’ Bailey said. ‘Now you just press a button. You can do an analysis in a day, whereas before it would have taken months.’   Building cubes   Since acquiring its BI tools, ORS has built multiple databases, also known as data cubes. Each cube represents data drawn from local, state and federal sources.   The so-called seniors’ cube was the source of the correlation between the seniors’ meals program and their improved health. The metric for improved health was a reduction in the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations of seniors who received meals. These correlations, plus ORS’ ability to measure state spending outcomes, were instrumental in obtaining state funds for the meals program.   In 2007, those funds paid for 5,476 meals and other home- and community-based services for seniors. The resulting data is just now starting to trickle in to ORS for analysis.

‘Working with the seniors’ cube, we want to show [that] an investment of less than $1,000 a year in home- and community-based services helps an individual maintain independence and dignity in his or her home ‘ preventing or delaying the expense of a $40,000 a year nursing home bed or a $24,000 average Medicare inpatient hospital discharge,’ Bauer said in a statement.

CommuniCare, a nonprofit based in Columbia, S.C., also has benefited from ORS’ BI capabilities. CommuniCare’s mission is to provide prescription medications for the state’s uninsured workers. It operates solely from donated funds.

Last year, the nonprofit spent $34 million to distribute 142,000 prescriptions to more than 14,000 clients. Chief Executive Officer Ken Trogdon said he assumed the organization was helping its clients, but he turned to ORS for some hard numbers.   CommuniCare provided ORS with identity-protected data covering the time from a client’s enrollment with the organization until 18 months afterward. ORS combined this with hospitalization and emergency room utilization metrics extending from a year before an individual signed up for the program until 18 months afterward.

ORS’ analysis showed that diabetics who received medications from CommuniCare reduced their visits to emergency rooms by 27 percent and in-patient hospitalizations by 15 percent during the 30-month period.

Clients with hypertension who received the necessary medications reduced emergency room use by 33 percent and inpatient hospitalizations by 20 percent.   Individuals who received prescription psychotropic drugs from the nonprofit reduced emergency room visits by 24 percent and hospitalizations by 31 percent.   ‘Before, we knew we were doing something good, but it was just warm and fuzzy,’ Trogdon said. ‘When you can quantify the numbers, it justifies our existence and shows the impact we’re having. If we can show what we’re doing in a state like ours that suffers greatly from poverty, then there is a good chance the program can grow nationwide.’   The latest addition to ORS’ analysis capabilities is a geographic information system that allows results to be mapped according to county, ZIP code and congressional district. ‘With the mapping system, we can show these issues to every House member, senator and congressman and the people they represent,’ Bailey said.   ‘When a politician wants to be re-elected, he can show how things have changed while [he was] in office,’ he said. ‘If there haven’t been sufficient improvements, he and agencies can work together. Politicians haven’t previously had specifics of these problems for the people they represent.’   Bailey didn’t say it, but the ability to measure outcomes also means that politicians can be held accountable for their actions, and political programs and initiatives can be objectively evaluated.

THE CONCEPT OF a cube of data is central to business intelligence software, but these cubes aren’t the common 3-D blocks that might come to mind. Instead, a BI cube can have multiple dimensions in which each is an element of a data category.   Data elements might be durations in minutes, hours or months. Or they might be the number of visits a person makes to a hospital.   ‘Cubes typically have between five and 10 dimensions,’ said Nigel Pendse, an independent BI analyst, author of the annual Business Intelligence Survey and lead analyst for the Web-only OLAP Report.

‘The software can do more, but people have trouble understanding it,’ he said.   Data dimensions can be linked or cross-tabbed to find correlations or relationships, just as a Microsoft Excel user finds a cell that links one unique row and one unique column. In fact, Excel is the most commonly used BI software tool.   Because of the sheer quantity of data it manages from local, state and federal sources, the South Carolina Office of Research and Statistics, part of the state’s Budget and Control Board, uses Microsoft SQL Server to create its 20 data cubes, and more are being developed.

The office uses Panorama’s Panorama’s BI Solution to query the data cubes for information that will help client agencies do their jobs better.   ‘The beauty of the software is that you can define the relational database and how the data are related, define the data, and the computer does all the work for you,’ said Pete Bailey, chief of health and demographics at ORS.

Company: ProMedico

Company Overview

Promedico is a leading provider of logistics and distribution for supply chain of companies in the health industry. The Company services more than 3,000 customers, including: private pharmacies, pharmaceutical chains, public health services clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, all of the food chains, comfort stores and private retail outlets. Headquartered in Hefer Valley, Continue reading

Company: Cox Ohio Publishing

Background:

Cox Ohio Publishing is a group of nine newspapers, including The Dayton Daily News.

Challenge: Declining Circulation

The Dayton Daily News had a circulation of 200,000 and was experiencing declines for the past decade. Declining circulation required new data, CRM technology and innovative marketing initiatives to reverse the losses. Continue reading