Category Archives: Visual Analytics

Accidental Analysts®: What are they doing with my data?

Eileen McDaniel, Ph.D. and Stephen McDaniel
This article was originally published in late 2013 in
The Data Warehouse Institute FlashPoint Newsletter

Earlier this year, we presented this topic in a talk to an independent group of data professionals. When we noticed it was mistakenly promoted as “Accidental Analysts: What are they doing TO my data?”, we had to laugh! Unintentional typo or not, we’ve found that data warehousing specialists often wonder what businesspeople are doing on their end. Who are accidental analysts, how do they analyze data, and what aspects of the data warehouse can data professionals evaluate and improve upon so that they are set up for success instead of frustration?

Who are accidental analysts?

Accidental_Analyst_in_hurry_Many business analysts either lack formal education in data analysis or took courses that didn’t fully prepare them for the challenges of real-world data analysis. They are asked to quickly answer business questions so that managers, colleagues and clients are able to identify and implement a plan of action. After teaching analysts in many organizations from all skill levels and backgrounds, we discovered that a major obstacle to obtaining good results is that many are uncertain of the steps to take when analyzing their data. They need a plan of attack, regardless of the analysis software that they are using!

 

The Seven C’s of Data Analysis

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The scientific method has been used by scientists for hundreds of years to design and analyze experiments. In our training and books, we adapted this method to fit business analysis, Continue reading

Visual analytics best practices, “The Accidental Analyst”

Order “The Accidental Analyst
Amazon

Are you drowning in a sea of data? Would you like to take control of your data and analysis to quickly answer your business questions and make critical decisions? Do you want to confidently present results and solutions to your managers, colleagues, clients and the public? Are you a champion of analytics in your organization helping others learn how to analyze and make sense of their data?

If so, The Accidental Analyst: Show Your Data Who’s Boss is for you! Although you didn’t plan for a career as a data analyst, you’re now in a position where you have to analyze data to be successful. Regardless of the software package that you use, we’ll walk you through a clear, step-by-step framework using illustrated examples to help you understand and apply the analytic process to find answers to real-world questions. We call this flexible framework The Seven C’s of Data Analysis.

Read this book for inspiration, ideas and confidence to begin tackling the problems you face at work. Keep it by your desk as a reference on how to organize, analyze and display your data. Throughout the book, we also include expert tips, tricks, and shortcuts that took years of analyzing data to discover and understand!

Order your copy of “The Accidental Analystat Amazon.

Reviews
“This is a wonderful book, filled with practical advice.
Business people who are struggling to make sense of their data
will find it accessible and directly applicable to their work-
a great resource for building analytical prowess.”
Stephen Few
Best-selling author, “Show Me the Numbers” and “Now You See It

“Finally, a book that clearly explains the fundamentals of business analytics!
I wish that I had this book at the start of my career as a data analyst.”
Tim Latendress
Financial Analyst

“This book is an amazing resource for regular business people
who want to make sense of their data
and take charge of their business!
It provides simple yet comprehensive coverage of business analytics.”
Diego Saenz
President, Petplace and former CIO of Pepsi Latin America

“… the executive manual, like an Executive MBA” for knowledge workers…
Ted Cuzzillo, DataDoodle
The Data Warehouse Institute, BI This Week Newsletter

One of the “8 great books about data visualisation”. Continue reading

Free Webinar—Analyzing Your Data With Excel:
Simple Steps for Actionable Results

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Recorded August 22nd, 2013
 
 
Do what you can with what you have where you are.
—THEODORE ROOSEVELT
Cowboy, soldier, historian and
26th President of the U.S.

Synopsis
Answer everyday business questions like an analyst with Microsoft Excel. This webinar is based on a selected set of techniques from The 7C’s of Data Analysis, as covered in our book, The Accidental Analyst: Show Your Data Who’s Boss. An abbreviated case study will be used to demonstrate common techniques that can start you on the course to analyzing data with Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010 or 2013.

This presentation is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes in length.

Continue reading

Thoughts on “Business Analytics Software Still Has Skeptics”

Synopsis of the article and summary chart from Pete Barlas at Investor’s Business Daily
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Many companies still view the promise of analytics software as a glass half-empty.

One of the strongest sectors in enterprise software, business analytics has many doubters among companies skeptical it truly is helping improve the top and bottom lines.

So found a survey released last month by accounting and professional services firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

“What we are seeing in the analytics front is a real skepticism among business leaders about whether this works and how it can make a difference,” said Tim Phillipps, global leader of Deloitte’s analytics practice.

The findings, he admits, were a surprise.

Here is Stephen’s comment on this article:

I have worked in analytics for many years at over 100 companies (employee, consultant and leading teams.)  It has always been easier to lean on costs savings as a clear measure of success with analytics and data warehouse investments.  Continue reading

Free Webinar—Quick & dirty analysis with Tableau
in 13 lucky steps!

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July 31st, 2013, Noon Pacific, 3 PM Eastern, 8 PM London
 
 
So much data, so little time!
–Stephen McDaniel
Co-founder of Freakalytics

 
 
Synopsis
Let’s face it: in the daily world of work, you often are asked to provide an answer to a new problem in less than a day. Of course, your boss tends to forget about the other three project deadlines you are currently facing, so you really have only 10 or 20 minutes to squeeze in a quick and dirty analysis.

If this sounds familiar to you, this webinar will walk you through the thirteen flexible steps that can take you from being clueless to looking smart with Tableau in just a few minutes. Hopefully you’ll be able to obtain enough information to come up with ideas for an e-mail update or talking points for the unexpected meeting that is looming large over your day, showing your boss and colleagues that you can deliver great results in time to be useful.

So, if you’re already a user of Tableau, this webinar will guide you in the critical path of many analyses in Tableau. If you are totally new to Tableau, you can see the possibilities of what you can accomplish in a short amount of time, once you get started and practice these techniques.
 
 
A preview of the first few steps

1 What question will you examine?

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Okay, in reality this step might take hours or even days! But let’s assume you have your question, and if it is complex, break it down into several, simpler questions.

2 Grab the closest, readily available dataset Continue reading

Free Webinar—Business analytics and more
with SAS Enterprise Guide

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Recorded on July 10th, 2013
 
 
 
 
True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of
uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.

–WINSTON CHURCHILL
Prime Minister of England during WWII

 
 
Synopsis
In this webinar, Stephen will analyze multiple real-world case studies using SAS Enterprise Guide by following the 7 C’s of Data Analysis. He will collect data from a range of sources, explore the data for common problems, apply quick data fixes, demonstrate best practices of visual analytics and use powerful predictive models that go beyond the limits of standard analysis techniques.
Click here for the full post and to register below Continue reading

Free Webinar—Visual Analytics Best Practices
Why Can’t You See My Point?!?

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You can have brilliant ideas,
but if you can’t get them across,
your ideas won’t get you anywhere.

-Lee Iacocca

 

The webinar is past but you can watch the recording and view the slides below.
This post is currently being updated with the slides and videos.

Why do visual analytics best practices matter?

Why can’t people see your point when you present data-oriented presentations?

Whether you are using big data, small data or summarized data that has been prepared for you, this webinar will explore these vital questions. If you are concerned with getting the most from your data, this complimentary webinar is a great step in learning how to clearly communicate with people as they make better informed decisions in the hectic world of modern business.

Synopsis
Are you clearly communicating the message that you want to deliver from your data? If you’re tired of your tables and charts being “good enough”, learn some tips and tricks to help make them great! We’ll demonstrate how choosing the right table, chart and metrics to answer the question at hand and how to simplify your visuals for maximum impact. Regardless of whether you use Excel, SAS, R, PowerPoint, Qlikview, Tableau, Business Objects, Cognos, Microstrategy or most any other analytics tool for your analysis, you will benefit from this thought-provoking presentation.

For everyone who joined, thanks for your support and participation during the Q&A!

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Chat comments at the end of the webinar
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Click here for the video and presentation Continue reading

Joyful or informative charts? Best practices in visual analytics

Small_packed_bubble_chartStephen Few, noted visual analytics expert and the original inspiration for our work in the field, recently wrote about criticisms of best data visualizations practices. In particular, Amanda Cox of the New York Times said, “There’s a strand of the data viz world that argues that everything could be a bar chart. That’s possibly true but also possibly a world without joy.” And Nathan Yau of Flowing Data wrote, “in visualization you eventually learn that there’s more to the process than efficient graphical perception and avoidance of all things round. Design matters, no doubt, but your understanding of the data matters much more.” These are both people who have a body of work that I admire but I am also surprised at these comments.

This discussion reminds me of a similar problem in marketing and web analytics. Generating traffic that leads to sales is good. Eventually, someone finds a way to generate traffic that leads to not many new sales, but management is misled to think this must be good since traffic leads to sales. This is similar to “look, this chart is beautiful“, but hard to interpret or understand. So, while we delivered fun graphs, minimal information is shared. This may be good for traffic, but not so much for higher sales.

I suspect that part of this recent criticism can be traced back to Stephen’s recent criticism of Tableau, “Tableau Veers from the Path“. In it, he mentions a new graph type in Tableau, packed bubble charts and contrasts them with bar charts. This is an example of the “avoidance of all things circular”. Is Stephen truly anti-joy@f16 Will an example show him to be wrong@f17 Let’s give it a try and you can judge for yourself.

Here’s a packed bubble chart example Continue reading

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Data Driven Conference 2012

We are having a great time at the Data Driven Conference in Columbus! Our first session was standing room only and we are presenting the same talk a second time at 1:30 in E161.

Interesting questions include “how do you become better at asking the right questions that lead to better analysis” and “how do you communicate with IT to get better data”?

To buy a copy of The Accidental Analyst, please visit www.AccidentalAnalyst.com.

Here is our infographic that we created Continue reading

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2012 NCAA football rankings–ranks per poll & overall ranking

Teams inlcuded in this week:
USC, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, South Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Clemson, Texas, Ohio State, Stanford, Nebraska, TCU, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Florida, Boise State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Washington, Auburn, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Utah, NC State, Baylor, South Florida, Texas A&M, Cincinnati, Brigham Young, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Virginia, Louisiana Tech, UCF, Houston, Rutgers, Southern Miss, Missouri, Florida Intl, Northern Illinois, Texas Tech

Conferences included in this week:
SEC, Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big East, USA, Ind, Mid-Amer, Mntn Wst, Sun, WAC
 
 
 
 
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