For the last few months I’ve been steadily training myself into a new skill: data visualization. As data analytics is an ever increasing part of my job and something I’m highly interested in, it makes sense to do so and after working with Watson analytics it seemed logical to also explore Tableau. I have to admit I love it as it lets me be creative as well as forces me to deep dive into data, patterns and processes to fully understand the data you are working with. But learning a new skill and new software can be hard and apart from using some online materials I found, the thing that really helped me learn this new skill was to be challenged and use it hands-on.
Hello chicken and egg story: As you can’t get hands-on experience without doing it and you can’t get jobs to do it if you don’t have the experience….
So while searching for ways to get more hands-on experience I stumbled upon this tweet about a #makeOverMonday challenge and got intrigued. It’s organized by two people from the Tableau community who, each week on Sunday, select an article or online publication that has some sort of data visualization in it. They provide a link to the article as well as a data set with the data used in the article on a designated website. Everyone who is interested can then take that and make their own viz with it. The goal is to either redesign and improve the original visualization or do something totally new with the provided data and visualize that in a data dashboard or data visualization. You post your result to Tableau Public as well as tweet it with the hashtag and at the end of the week the organizers write a recap of that weeks entries and provide information on things they found great or not. It’s a fantastic way to learn as you can see what everyone else is doing, can ask questions or feedback and see multiple ways of what is possible with data.
Those that I did can be found on my public Tableau profile. Although I haven’t been able to do them every week I do enjoy making them as often as I can. It is intriguing to see what you can do with data and how visualizations can help get insight into whats going on. I look forward to making many more!
As a business consultant that focuses primarily on enabling organizations to collaborate better with their ecosystem of employees, partners and customers, a big question is always for me: “What are the numbers saying? How are our systems being used, what data is out there that I can use to analyze what is happening?”. So that I can track real activity and turn it into actionable content to use in my adoption strategies. As, let’s face it, what we think is happening and what really happens can be two totally different things.
But those are not easy questions to answer as they require insight into the data held in databases that most admins won’t let you even get close to. Simply because it requires too much security level access or could potentially cause performance issues by putting too much strain on a production environment. Plus: even if they did, making sense of it would be very difficult to most.
iDNA & ConnectionsExpert:
Joining panagenda earlier this year though opened up a whole new way into this data. panagenda products like iDNA (analytical reporting on IBM Domino Mail and application environments) and ConnectionsExpert (analytical reporting on IBM Connections) recognize the limitations specified above and selectively and in a controlled way (to prevent overload) retrieve relevant metric and analytical data from your production environment and store it in databases on its own appliance. Data that is then used to create instant reports, graphs and visualizations on how your production environment is doing without putting any strain on it and without having to take the data outside your firewall.
Working with the data:
Since joining I’ve felt like a kid in a candy store. With ConnectionsExpert I now have access to a wealth of information I can show and play with. Visualized and presented in the form of out of the box analytics, graphs, visualizations and exports that I can immediately use.
But as always, we also get specific requests. Reports that customers want that are really only relevant to them. And that’s where the true beauty of what I’ve been able to do these last few weeks comes into play. Because both iDNA as well as ConnectionsExpert have their own data warehouse independent of the platform they are polling information from. Now why is this good? Well, it means that with the right access levels, the right tools and knowledge we can then work with raw data that for instance ConnectionsExpert collects and make specific analytical reports out of it without having to have direct access to any production databases.
The things you can do with what ConnectionsExpert is collecting are really mind boggling and this world of reporting and data mining is opening up a whole new exciting layer of knowledge and opportunity to me I never had before! Over the last few months I’ve been working hard on understanding the specifics of the database model and on using Tableau to get relevant reports out of that. And I love it 🙂
It’s truly exciting and thrilling and I’m so happy to have all this opportunity to do this. Not just from a point of view of getting the tools and data but also in having a fantastic and very knowledgeable team behind me that can help me when I can’t figure things out myself. The combination of their technical knowledge and my own experience in the world of social adoption is creating some really interesting new perspectives and making me hungry for more!