Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Visualise This!

I’m a very visual person. I tend to use my hands when I talk.  I remember faces, but I’m terrible with names. When I learn something new, I need to see it to really understand it. So I was very excited when I was asked to evaluate one of the latest offerings from SAP, called Lumira.

Basically, it’s a “data discovery” tool.  That means instead of having to spend time manually aggregating data from multiple sources and in diverse formats, SAP Lumira pulls the data directly from wherever it resides and lets you organise and manipulate it however you want. 

OK, maybe the earth’s not moving for you yet. But this is where it gets interesting: once you’ve prepared your data, you can create visualisations to find the kinds of business insights and trends that are impossible to glean from staring at rows of numbers. 

It’s a simple matter of dragging and dropping the data labels onto what is more or less a “blank canvas” in the middle of your screen, and choosing how you want to visualize the results. You can select anything from a straightforward bar, radar or scatter chart, to a sophisticated multi-dimensional chart, geographic bubble chart, tree map or tag cloud. You can see the big picture at a glance and then drill down into the details by filtering data in columns, facets or charts.

What’s really liberating is that it enables people like me (numerically literate but not an analytical expert) to look for relationships and uncover patterns in data without adding to IT’s workload. No more waiting for them to write a custom query or report each time a new question arises. 

I downloaded the free trial of SAP Lumira yesterday afternoon and got so immersed playing with it that by the time I looked up again, everyone had gone home and the cleaner was trying to trying to vacuum around my feet.  I visualize that I’m going to be finding lots of answers to questions I never knew I had with my new software over the coming days!

For more information, click here.

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