Humanizing Data

headshot of Ken Smith within orange circle

Ken Smith
September 28, 2021

Thirty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web (1989) and early commercial web browsers made internet data more accessible. Information that was once reserved for a select few highly trained insiders suddenly came within reach of millions more users, increasing productivity and revealing new forms of engagement and entertainment. Since 1989, mobile devices, Moore’s law, social media, UI/UX science, and broadband availability have further expanded data access. But nothing has accelerated the need for a new paradigm of data access and engagement–especially at work–than the COVID-19 pandemic.

Survey data shows employees now want to work from anywhere at least part-time, or they may seek another job. To be successful either in the office or working from home means access to data. Eyeballs that were once focused solely on KPI dashboards, text and graphs now view those plus games and videos on a side screen or TV in the same room; if business data does not likewise engage and entertain, studies show users tune out within minutes. Just like Microsoft Office gives users simple tools for creating documents or presentations, users need tools that let them manipulate and visualize data in new and compelling ways without needing special skills or training so they can add value, drive innovation, or simply respond faster to a client request. Mom’s eyes, in the image above, already move seamlessly (without leaving her chair) from company data on her PC, to a text/chat with her sales team on her phone, to helping her daughter play Swift Playgrounds learn-to-code game from Apple.

End users are driving the greatest opportunity to advance data visualization since the web browser!

Your competitive advantage now works at home

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the number and requirements of remote workers, affecting data sharing as well as hiring and retention in the process.

  • A January 2021 PWC survey reported that 83% of organizations declared the shift to remote working a success (compared to 73% in a June 2020 survey). Fewer than one in five executives said they wanted to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic.
  • A majority of employed people surveyed by the World Economic Forum found almost a third (30%) said they’d look for another job if forced to go back to the office full time.
  • Employers are responding: 9 out of 10 executives surveyed by McKinsey said they would be combining remote working with onsite working going forward.
  • A 2021 study by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) found that, pre-COVID-19, almost a quarter (22%) of workers had quit a job because workplace tech made their jobs harder. Today, nearly a third of those workers (32%) say they have said goodbye to an employer whose tech was a barrier to their ability to do good work.

The Eyeballs Have It.

High-impact visual data increasingly dominates our personal lives. Employees have both a strong visual orientation and high expectations of interactivity for everything, from the data they engage with at work to the games they play at night. In the image on the right, the top KPI dashboard is what a thirty-something VP marketing or Director of Finance might be viewing during work hours, but the bottom is the ‘dashboard’ that same person who grew up with Star Wars or Avatar is likely to be engaged with including multiple data inputs, readouts, visuals and more all in real-time.

From a data-consumption standpoint, today’s workers grew up gaming online and watching sci-fi. Their eyes, engagement and concepts of data exploration have evolved far beyond spreadsheets, charts and graphs. Unfortunately, most traditional BI tools haven’t.

For the increasing number of big-data access or analytics applications–assets that bring strategic value or mission-critical operation to the business–responsive visualization can make the difference between disinterest and innovation. Particularly as remote or hybrid work increasingly goes mainstream, data access and analytics need to be as engaging and entertaining as the other visuals that engage and entertain them daily.

Next-Generation Data Exploration

This is what we’ve built at Hopara. A next-generation data exploration system with a growing catalog of task-specific visual applications that can be configured and deployed in just hours. Our proprietary Data Drone Navigation functionality creates an immersive experience that delivers easier exploration and discovery, faster enlightenment, and more intelligent decisions by anyone/everyone — no computer science degree required. Users can fly through data the same way their movie or gaming heroes fly through virtual environments: a fun, engaging experience they will want to go back to time and time again, further embedding data into their everyday life and work experience.

Sign up for a free trial.

The Hopara experience is more like flying through a Star Wars game than navigating through a glossed-up spreadsheet. It’s also currently the only commercially available technology that truly embraces the Visual Information-Seeking Mantra: Overview first, zoom and filter, then details on demand.

Our Google Maps-like Data Drone Navigation enables a more immersive experience that provides easier detail discovery, faster enlightenment, and more intelligent decisions. It can also unleash innovation and information-sharing, helping leaders fulfill the value of creating data-driven decision-making and empowered employees.

How is Hopara being implemented?

A machine sensor vendor now lets their clients visualize data from millions of heat sensors across multiple facilities in a client’s manufacturing network. Users pan to find anomalies that might impact production, and then zoom or ‘teleport’ to a different custom canvas showing all facilities within a specific region and drill down to review each individual sensor in its specific location based on a custom map of each facility that is reporting the anomalous reading. And teleport back up to the heatmap to find other readings viewed from other days, hours or minutes to find previously hidden patterns. This dynamic visualization is embedded in the vendor’s existing dashboard, streamlining implementation and maintaining the vendor’s brand environment, with simple ‘how to’s’ but no costly / time-consuming training required. Just allow users to engage with the data. Can your machine sensor dashboard do that?

CDO Magazine which targets senior data executives worldwide with content, events and networking now lets users navigate through an interactive media kit showing ticket type, location and title of subscribers, event sponsors, and speakers, sorted by any number of combinations. Want to know how many CDOs from NY attended a 2021 event, vs. CEOs and Directors from one of hundreds of different companies? Pan, zoom, click, go back — again no special skills or training: just engage, explore, find your focus, and reveal value. Where 50% of advertising doesn’t work, the only problem is we don’t know which half (to paraphrase John Wanamaker), helping prospective subscribers, sponsors and event vendors sort from a highly targeted list to find the prospects their advertising dollars seek to impact, the more likely they are to buy from this media outlet. Does your media outlet have an interactive, real-time, visually engaging and dynamic media kit, or are you still publishing graphs and charts?

A last-mile fulfillment provider is monitoring delivery success rates by vendor, by driver, across multiple countries, viewing aggregate data by country, with drill down to regional data and further to street-level data showing each individual delivery. By toggling on one vendor data and off another, the provider can optimize fulfillment orders by directing more orders to those field service partners with the highest successful delivery rates. Do you know down to the individual field service vendor which of your partners are delivering the highest level of service, and if not why not?

For these employers, engaging teams of employees in a dynamic immersive environment that they can engage with on their PCs or smartphones to make real-time decisions that directly impact customer satisfaction, the risk of turnover is reduced, productivity rises, and job quality improves. Work becomes adaptable to remote, hybrid or flex models. Hiring and retention is easier, and onboarding and training times shorten.

Explore your data with Hopara…

Will competitive businesses eventually migrate from BI dominated by traditional KPIs and dashboards used by BI elites, to an increasingly immersive, remote-friendly environment for all data workers and business-critical big data applications? We’d like to think so.

How might this change things for you, then?

If you’re ready to fly through your data and have a set that you’d like to explore with Hopara, contact us for a FREE TRIAL

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