Visualization Tools—The Eye into BI

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Visualization tools give you the ability to do more than just make a bunch of pretty charts and graphs. They allow you to develop insight into data using appropriate visualization techniques. For a quick look at how smoothly things are running, a dashboard with high-level KPIs and a few graphs of important measures over time or compared to budget may be just right. For analytical insight, a tool that lets you look at thousands of data points to quickly identify causal relationships will be more in order. The right data visualization will reveal the desired insight with clarity and concision.

So how do you choose a visualization tool? Analysis is all about making the right comparisons—looking at product sales on a regional basis compared to budget, comparing unit sales of updated product A to unit sales of companion product B, looking at discounts per product over time, analyzing gross margin by region by product compared to the prior month or year. Just about any visualization tool can handle creating a graph such as a scattergram of just two variables and even throw in a regression line. But what happens when you have 3 or 4 or 5 variables? Or when the standard x-y line graphs and bar charts just don’t make your point? Advanced tools will let you create graphics using the latest visualization techniques like tree maps, bubble graphs, and geospacial mapping . And you will be able to expand your analysis by using colors and shapes as additional variables or representing the measure of your variables with the size of your data points. Or you can put sparklines or bullet graphs in rows and columns for another way to look at additional variables like time or product. Thus advanced graphical tools give you the ability to look at your data in new ways, creating insights that were not apparent using basic visualizations.

Besides being able to draw all kinds of graphs and charts, your visualization tool should be easy to use and provide the functionality to match the user’s needs. How quickly can you change the data on the x-axis? Can you make calculations on the fly? Can you highlight particular data? Can you lasso data and home in on the detail? Can you drill down, aggregate, and filter data? Can you change your analysis nearly as quickly as new thoughts come to you?

While BIO business intelligence works with any visualization tool that works with SSRS, it is sold with one or both of two exceptional viewers: BIOVue and Tableau. BIOVue is an extremely solid and affordable viewer perfectly suited for the frequent user. From non-technical users to analysts, BIOVue provides all of the functionality most users need and allows you to create sophisticated graphics for reporting, ad hoc analysis, and dashboards. Tableau provides advanced presentation graphics and dashboards with an easy-to-use interface. Both viewers support multiple distribution options and, most important, leverage BIO’s powerful business intelligence solution.

Take a look at BIO business intelligence for your reporting and analysis needs. You can see both BIOVue and Tableau in action in our next webinar.

By Sandi Richards Forman of BIO Analytics, Corp., Microsoft Dynamics Business Intelligence (BI) Solution Provider

View demos of our business intelligence software and services for Microsoft Dynamics and feel free to contact me at [email protected]with any questions you may have about BIO or about business intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics.

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