Creating a Data Culture

It’s all about the last mile of BI

Today there’s a lot of hype around Big Data, but what we are coming to realise is that it’s not about the size of the data, it’s about all data and what we do with it. As we get better at managing our data, it’s becoming more and more important that we can present it in the right way to the business, otherwise it’s useless.

We’ve all fallen victim to static reports that presume to know what you need to see. They often land in our mailboxes in the form of a PDF or even a screenshot. This is not what we want. Nor is it what we should be satisfied with. Let’s take a simple sales example. What we are always shown is how well we are doing against our target. Great, that’s really important, but it doesn’t allow us to think for ourselves. If the results aren’t what we expect, we might wonder why. But even with a static report, where every possible view has been created, it will not be consumed by the majority in a way that allows data-driven discovery.

Let me paint you a picture. Microsoft is a big organisation. We spend a lot of money on travel. Every year, a team of analysts would create a report containing well over a thousand pages with all the information we have on travel expenditure. But who’s going to read thousands or even hundreds of pages to find answers? No one.

This is where interactive reports can make a huge difference. What was over a thousand pages of static tables and charts, has been transformed into a single page. Using slicers and by clicking on charts, all of the views that took over a thousand pages to display are visible right there in one page. In fact, we have all the historical data there, too, so we actually have many times more views available. Before, if you wanted to compare how one region or department was doing against another, you had to flick between, say, page 367 and page 1,093. The insight was there, but no one was going to find it like that.

What if you wanted to investigate something that wasn’t there in the existing reports? Perhaps you want to see which departments have spent the most on first-class air travel since last year. How are you going to do that with a stack of reports as tall as an encyclopaedia? Especially if last year’s expenditure is stored in last year’s reports. If you were particularly concerned about this, you might attempt to find out yourself, or you might ask an analyst to have a look for you. Neither way is timely. Neither way is what we should be doing.

What about if you want to compare external factors? Perhaps you get a feed of data from another company you work with. How are you going to integrate it? Call upon a team of reporting ninjas? There is a simpler way.

Travel expenditure is one thing, but we are now seeing widespread adoption and sharing of these interactive reports throughout Microsoft. We now have something quite magical. It’s the beginning of a change in the way people think about data. No one loved the reports they received before. They just took what they needed from them and moved on. It wasn’t until they began to see the power of visualising data in this way that they started to sit up and listen. Most of all, they are now demanding data. They see the value data has to drive decisions and they want more of it.

This is a huge cultural shift and one that is instinctively difficult for the majority of people. What has really made the difference is the way that we can now consume the data. No need to install anything. Just share a link and you’re up and running in a browser on whichever device you happen to be on at the time.

Come and see how you can transform your organisations relationship with data at the Data Culture Series. We will walk through some examples using common sales data pulling and combining from databases, CSVs, and Excel, as well as newer data sources like Facebook and Twitter.

Join us for this all day, interactive training where you will learn how to use Microsoft Power BI to empower people to do more with data.

@ijanric


Dashboard in a Day

For business users and power users

http://t.co/i8QEymTYnn

Data Culture Technical Day — Visualisation & Data Discovery Track

For power users and technical users

http://t.co/An3XGiEbh6

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Ric Howe’s story.