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big data.pngA couple of days ago, I wrote a post outlining why I think the BBC Weather site points the way to the future of dashboards. Interestingly, not only does the BBC site provide good lessons for dashboards in general, but I also believe it has a lot to say about how to get the best out of Big Data.

Big Data is generating a huge buzz in the Business Intelligence community at the moment, so much so that I have heard people suggest that if you are not currently taking Big Data to heart then your organization is bound to fail. The truth (as always) is a little different from the hype; Big Data analysis is a powerful tool, but one which should be used carefully, and this is where I think that the lessons from the BBC Weather site can help.

As I said in the previous post, I think the BBC Weather site is an excellent example of a dashboard and if more dashboards were built using its “ENTICE” principles then we would see greater use of and greater value from BI in our organizations.

However, not only is the BBC Weather site an excellent example of a dashboard, it is an example of a dashboard written on top of a truly vast set of data. I have no doubt that the underpinning weather data would more than hold its own when compared to all of the “big” data sets being considered in BI organizations around the world today.

The important thing to note is that although the dashboard is underpinned by a huge volume of data (and very sophisticated analysis) the final interface for the end-user is incredibly simple.

As an end user of a weather dashboard I don’t need to see individual data points, or understand the analysis which has gone into computing the forecast, I simply need high level answers which will make a difference to me.

I use the end results of deep analysis performed by highly skilled people served up to me in such a way that I don’t even really know I am using it.

The same is true in business. The business of analyzing big data lies with data analysts (or “data scientists” as they seem to be becoming known) that is their job; it is what they are paid to do. The rest of us have another job to do, running our organizations, something we can do better with insight gained from big data analysis … but, the quicker we can get into the numbers, get what we need, get out and get on with our  job, the more efficient we  will be. For me, the obvious way for that to happen is to have that insight packaged up and accessible, simply and intuitively, through dashboards.

A couple of years ago it was reported that someone said “HANA will make exec dashboards obsolete”. Nothing could be further from the truth; interactive dashboards are the perfect interface for the vast majority of us to consume the big data analysis performed by the comparatively tiny number of data analysts/scientists who understand it all the way down.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I see interactive dashboards as the ONLY required access mechanism to data in organizations for everyone who does not have “analyst” (or scientist) on their business card … but, that is an idea for another day.

If you would like to find out about the quickest, easiest and lowest cost way of creating interactive dashboards on datasets large and small then either visit the XWIS Advantage website or watch the replay of a Webinar that I did recently with Adam Binnie and Jason Rose from SAP.

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