4 Ways Data Visualization (Business Intelligence) Has Helped Real Companies
I am the CEO and Founder of a business intelligence consulting firm called Omni BI Solutions (“OBIS”), based in New York with a profile on Upwork, but at heart, I am a storyteller. A storyteller whose narrative is rooted in data.
I love nothing more than the challenge of finding and telling the unique data-driven story of my clients. Our mission at OBIS is to empower our clients to make informed business decisions that are aligned to their objectives, growth goals, and of course, based on real-time data. Over the last couple of years we’ve worked with companies spanning 25 unique industries, both nationally and globally.
A favorite part of my job, no matter the company, industry, or country, is seeing the "aha!" moment on my client’s face when they finally see their data visualized in a clear, concise way that helps them understand their business model better, or answers outstanding questions they’ve had lingering. We thrive on this moment of “unlock” that helps our client see the path forward to success.
What is data visualization?
Many have heard the term data visualization but don’t understand what it is or how it can improve a business’s operating model. Data visualization, simply put, is the graphic representation of information. When data is presented visually, it is easier to see patterns, trends, and relationships that may not be immediately apparent when looking at raw data.
This can help businesses, regardless of industry or size, make better decisions, identify opportunities for improvement, and better understand their customers. Data visualization is also useful for presenting data to others, such as stakeholders, employees, or customers. Visual representations of data can be more effective in getting a message across than raw data or text alone.
Data visualization can help to break down silos and ensure that everyone in an organization is working towards the same goals. It can also improve communication and collaboration within the organization, as it provides a clear and concise way to share information and insights.
Overall, having transparent and accessible data visualization can be a powerful tool for improving decision-making, alignment, and collaboration within a business. Data visualization is crucial for businesses of all types and industries because it helps to make sense of complex data sets and uncover valuable insights that can drive better decision-making and improve business performance.
These three data visualization examples show how graphic representation of data tells an easy-to access story, no matter the topic or business
Fun ways to describe data visualization Here are some memorable similes I use to help my clients understand what data visualization is like and why it’s valuable.
Treasure Map: It helps you to uncover valuable insights and discoveries that might otherwise have remained hidden
Compass: It points you in the right direction and helps you to navigate complex data sets
Puzzle: It allows you to see how different pieces of data fit together and form a bigger picture
Thermometer: It allows you to see how hot or cold different metrics are and how they are changing over time
Traffic light: It provides a quick and easy way to see at a glance which metrics are doing well and which ones need attention
Microscope: It allows you to zoom in on specific details and get a closer look at patterns and trends
Picture: It can convey complex ideas and relationships in a simple and easy-to-understand way
Weather forecast: It helps you to predict what might happen in the future based on past trends and patterns
What’s an example of a typical data visualization process? Have I piqued your interest? If you’re wondering what working with a data visualization team is like, here is a typical process we go through at my company OBIS:
We sit down with our clients and discuss the end-to-end current state environment, covering all types of questions surrounding people, process, data, and technology stack.
After, we discuss with relevant stakeholders within the company what the desires are for a future state environment, we document the key business and solution design requirements and socialize with our clients how we can support their business intelligence or data visualization needs.
From there, we begin to consult and/or build the solutions alongside our clients, tailoring it on an as needed basis to their needs.
After the solution is fully functional, we assess client satisfaction as an ongoing metric for our business. We measure impact and effectiveness through metrics and analytics. This involves collecting data and feedback from stakeholders throughout the entire project, asking for continuous feedback, analyzing the results, and determining that the solution is meeting the desired business outcomes.
Four real-life examples of data visualization Here are four examples of how OBIS helped real companies by using data visualization. In each case study, I discuss the issue that the client brought to us, share a description of the expertise, and solution we provided, the related impact of that solution, along with feedback from our client. Each client gave permission to share this information, but client details have been anonymized to protect client confidentiality.
Case study 1: Healthcare Operations Franchise Report
Client issue: Our first case study is a US healthcare franchise company, with approximately $500M in revenue. The client came to OBIS asking for assistance building a tool to capture data points to enable them to track key performance metrics within their business. They felt they needed more transparency on a day-to-day basis to manage their operations and encourage employees to drive ownership or accountability over certain areas of the business.
Solution: OBIS engaged the client to build a real-time and customizable data visualization dashboard. Here’s how it happened: OBIS designed a process that enabled their system to capture key data points relevant to the KPIs they were looking to measure, as well as measure them over the period of time they wanted. OBIS aligned with the client on the proper solution design, given their existing systems and documentation on hand. Our team then constructed a cloud-based live dashboard feed that allowed the relevant stakeholders and executives to assess operational and financial performance on a weekly basis. The client wanted to see future projections based on business trends and seasonality. After we had the data architecture appropriately set up, we were able to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to their forecast model, allowing them to see future trends for KPIs with key parameters and assumptions they can easily adjust within the model.
Impact: The impact of the real-time data visualization dashboard is that franchise owners are now able to better supervise their staff on a weekly basis by having these key insights available to them for check-in meetings. This dashboard has encouraged stakeholder involvement, accountability, and awareness into the business model and what it takes for the company to achieve critical growth goals. This solution also allowed the owner and executives to reallocate their time on growing the business, rather than managing it on a day-to-day basis.
Client review: (5 out of 5 stars) "The team at OBIS has helped us several times over the last few months tell the story of our business through our data. The data visualizations and dashboards they have created has helped me better manage the business. Now I am able to easily identify key areas for improvement, and take action. As an owner, my goal is to work on the business; not IN the business every day–OBIS has made that more of a reality. I would highly recommend their team and their work."
Case Study 2: Omnichannel analytics for a marketing agency Client issue: Our second case study is with a marketing agency that supports a large $16B global company. They came to OBIS because they needed a way to collect the right data points to optimize omnichannel analytics.
Solution: We evaluated their ETL pipeline set up key data connectors across various marketing channels. We connected tools like MailChimp, Hubspot, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, Facebook Insights, Instagram Ads, Instagram Insights, Twitter Ads, TikTok Ads, LinkedIn Ads, YouTube Ads, Google Ads, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Pinterest Ads, Amazon Ads, and stitched campaign performance across these channels. This enabled the client to assess the overall impact and return on advertising investment.
Impact: Based on the insights gathered, the marketing agency was empowered to adjust the allocation of dollar spend across channels to unlock incremental value on existing and future campaigns. This solution works well for in-house marketing teams as well. Our client can now track and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) such as return on ad spend, conversion rates, cost per acquisition, customer lifetime value, and average order value across various channels and campaigns. In addition, the use of data visualization tools enhanced the transparency and clarity of this process, allowing the marketing agency to access and present key insights for their global client and drive home the effectiveness of their marketing strategy and efforts.
Client Review: (5 out of 5 stars) “This was the second time we have hired OBIS to build a report on behalf of our agency, and it was just as good as the first. We represent a large global client who expects world class reporting that is clear, insightful and presented in a slick professional format. That is exactly what the team at OBIS delivered. They are very quick to respond to queries, and pay close attention to our requirements. They understood the data flows and created another well laid out and informative report. Thank you again, and we will be back for more!”
Case study 3: Asset management investment performance report Client issue: Our third case study is for an asset management investment company that felt they were unable to generate and report near real-time balance feeds and assess critical KPIs for their client’s balances on a monthly basis.
Solution: OBIS architected a near real-time data warehouse feed that collected their client’s information and brought it into a business intelligence tool, building several customizable dashboards. . This solution allowed the business owner to evaluate their investment performance for each client as it relates to an increase in savings, the amount of debt that was paid down, and overall net worth adjustments, which gave them tremendous insight and direction to present their clients with during strategy sessions.
This particular client has financial coaches that are assigned clients to manage. To support this, OBIS built functionality within the dashboard for the business to have the ability to assess coach performance over time based on critical KPIs that are tracked. OBIS also provided various visualizations such as histograms that allow for them to see the distribution of dollars in savings, debt paid, and net worth increases across the business over time and how that distribution changes due to identifiable patterns.
Impact: This business intelligence solution provides valuable insights into the impact of different investment strategies and helps the company make more informed decisions about how to allocate clients’ funds, and how to allocate their internal resources. Financial coaches can now assess their own performance based on critical KPIs and the value they added for each of their clients. This improved the overall efficiency,effectiveness, and financial transparency of the company. This level of transparency helped asset managers be confident when discussing the investment value of their strategies for respective clients, and generated crucial dialogue between business owners and financial coaches to support business growth.
Client review: (5 out of 5 stars): “The team at OBIS is fantastic! They were able to take our IT environment, determine which data points were crucial to obtain, and understand the use cases of our company in order to help us build something that we can use on a frequent basis. The tool they built for us is really meaningful and we can use it to make business decisions now on an ongoing basis. They are very fast, and are able to react quickly to feedback which makes working with them a delight!”
Case study 4: Financial accounting and operations analysis Client issue: Our fourth case study is from an education-based enterprise, approximately $100M in revenue, looking to integrate their accounting systems into a real-time dashboard feed so that they could evaluate their financial performance and recordkeeping on a more granular level. The CFO wanted more real-time transparency into their revenue and expense cycles, profit margin, and cash flow so they could be better prepared for financial discussions at monthly meetings.
Solution: We queried directly from the company’s ERP and accounting systems, into Tableau Online environment to perform a thorough, detailed analysis of journal entries, trial balance accounts, and financial statement line item information. From there, we identified key trends and documented anomalies worthy of further investigation. We built useful and stunning visuals that enabled them to monitor their finances and accounting on a far more granular level than they ever had before.
We included a feature that generates a budget versus an actual report, allowing them to gauge if the business is on track to meet its financial targets, and identify any budgeting errors or areas where spending is out of control. We were able to analyze the profitability of different products by customer segments using visualizations like pie charts, to show the percentage of revenue that comes from each customer segmentation group, or a scatter plot that shows them the relationship between customer lifetime value and customer acquisition cost. We also provided additional dashboard reports which enabled them to track and monitor key ratios such as accounts receivable turnover, accounts payable turnover, return on investment, debt to equity, and working capital against relevant benchmarks they have as a business.
Impact: This custom reporting accounting solution gave the CFO and in-house accounting, finance, and operations teams the power to quickly identify where the issues might lay within the business and equip them with the information they need to ask the right questions. They were able to identify errors in their bookkeeping and book entries to adjust and correct their financial statements, in addition to being able to have more focused discussions with operations managers surrounding key relevant metrics. Having this level of information transparency conveyed through visualizations for not only executives, but management teams within their business allowed for better decision making and alignment on company-wide objectives.
Client review: (5 out of 5 stars) “The team at OBIS is great! They are very knowledgeable and have been able to take our vision and ideas and turn them into reality. Some consultants on the team have a strong accounting background, along with their data visualization skills, which makes them the perfect combination for anyone looking to create a financial dashboard. The communication has been very smooth, and I would recommend working with them to anyone."
Unlock the path to your success with data visualization By visualizing data, businesses can see trends and patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed, and gain a better understanding of how different factors are impacting their operations. This can help them to identify areas for improvement and allocate their resources more effectively.
Having a business intelligence consulting firm like OBIS can be especially helpful for businesses that are looking to unlock the full potential of their data. We have the expertise and experience to help businesses set up data pipelines, connect various data sources, clean data, and visualize it in a way that is meaningful and actionable. This can save businesses time and effort and allow them to focus on other important tasks, such as analyzing the data and making informed decisions about the best plan forward for the business.
To find out more about OBIS and what business intelligence can unlock for you, feel free to reach out and send a message to me here to learn more.
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