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3D Visual Communications: A New Way of Learning

by Robert Merlo Visual Enterprise Solution Marketing, SAP

“Data are widely available; what is scarce is the ability to extract wisdom from them.” Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist, The Economist 

It’s been coined the “Industrial Revolution of Data.” Today’s business executives, scientists and even consumers are being bombarded with astronomical amounts of information. According to a 2011 study by IDC Research, there are as many bits of information in our digital universe as there are stars in our physical universe, and the amount of data is predicted to continue doubling every two years!

Access to this new data is providing unparalleled insight into business trends and facilitating breakthrough scientific research. Yet, while the amount of information is growing by leaps and bounds, there are significantly fewer professionals experienced at extracting and compiling it into something functional. In fact, new professions are emerging with titles like “data scientist,” “statistician,” and “information astronaut,” whose sole purpose is to figure out how to make available data useful. 

But what about the rest of us? How can people who aren’t software programmers and statisticians access appropriate data to make better decisions in their everyday jobs?

Fortunately, in anticipation of the inevitable data overload problem, much progress has also been made on creating business solutions that make massive amounts of data easily accessible.  Known as “3D visualization”, the goal is to present raw data visually, so that is can be shared and utilized by executives throughout an organization – not just by IT or engineering.

For enterprise organizations, 3D visualization tools take data from in-house programs, such as CAD, PLM, manufacturing execution systems (MES), or ERP systems, and combine them with ultra-sophisticated visual software to create amazing 3D graphics. The visual representation of information can then be analyzed, shared and manipulated it new ways.

Below are a few examples of how departments outside of manufacturing and engineering can benefit from the ability to visualize data:

•     Marketing and Sales:  Realistic 3D product models set in real-world environments give sales and marketing the ability to walk customers through a product before it’s actually built. This allows marketing and selling functions to be performed in tandem with product development, enabling companies to bring products to market faster and with less risk.  Another application is combining multiple aspects of consumer behavior into a 3D model in order make decisions on scheduling specials or organizing store layouts. 

•      Human Resources: 3D tools can be used to help aggregate and analyze data of employee lifecycles, thereby helping HR executives anticipate staffing fluctuations to avoid the additional expenses of under or over staffing. HR executives could also use 3D visualization tools to look at the effectiveness of internal programs such as recruiting or training.  

•     Accounting:  3D models can be created by combining historical sales data, world economic trends and industry happenings to help accounting create insightful and more accurate business forecasts.  Visual communications can also improve the readability of bookkeeping records to help non-accountants better understand the corporate financial impact of their decisions.

The existence of massive amounts of data, both within an organization and worldwide, poses both challenges and opportunities. If mined correctly, it can give companies a critical competitive edge, reducing time to market and improving profitability. Yet, without the right technology to access it, the sheer amount of available information can cause uncertainty, inaction and even fear. Transforming data into 3D graphics solves this problem by allowing anyone to creatively access and analyze information.  3D visualization tools put the power of information back into the hands of the people that need it and is an absolute necessity in today’s data-driven age. 

Robert Merlo SAP 3D Visual Enterprise – Solution Marketing

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