I already have ERP Software for my business. Finally, after many years of implementation and adaptation process, the software is stable and my people are trained to properly utilize it.
That’s great! Now, what is next?
It is time to visualize your data!
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Data visualization is not new. In short words, data visualization is graphical representation of data. It could be chart, diagram, maptree, or others. Although data visualization generally applies to many fields, we will discuss data visualization particularly for businesses (i.e sales, marketing, financial statement).
We have data visualization demo below using open source tool, Grafana.
But, before you scroll to find the demo, you might want to know how could your business benefit from it.
First, let’s do a little flashback. How does your business get data? In all simplicity, most companies get data from softwares they have implemented (we are living in digital world, we hope hand-written pen and paper data is not our option). The software could be ERP, CRM, SCM, HRIS, Hospital Management System, and many more others. Users interact with the system and the system stores data. That is how most companies get their internal data. Although there are other ways to get internal data and even external data, we will focus our discussion on internal data from internal software. When you already have softwares for your business, you have taken the first very important step in manifesting the power of data.
As complicated as it gets during software implementation, now your business is more powerful than ever. You are more powerful because you own data. What to do about it?
Furthermore, your power also begs more questions of how it is being used :
– When was the last time you make decision based on analysis originating from data you have on the company’s software?
– How long does your subordinate take to provide the report for your analysis based on relevant data?
– Does the presentation of your data intuitively ease and really help you making the analysis?
Let’s have our discussion from 2 different approaches. If you are a technical guy, you might want to skip it over to Technical Approach
When your investment on software implementation has been higher than ever, you must have expectation of good outputs from the software. Do you already see (literally, visually see) the output of your software?
Most of the time, software functionalities are taken for granted, such as ability to effectively capture data, improve (or even automate) business process, and genarate ‘just-another-report’. C-level often says “Those are basics. Software should be able to do all of that, there is nothing special”. At least, many of our users feel this way and they are absolutely right!
Having this ‘should-work’ software functionalities intertwined with strong management would already bring significant outcome in terms of organization day-to-day activities. Even more, in terms of data, not only your business would have data but the data should be accurate and clean. The accuracy and cleanliness should apply to every single data originating from each daily transaction, such as sales transactions, financial transactions or other transactions.
Now it is time to bring your company to the next step. At this stage, we would suggest our clients to start thinking of effective reporting, business dashboard, and data visualization because it is where our client really visually see the output of their softwares. Your company already has the data stored in the software system, let’s visualize it to benefit your business!
Imagine your staff hand in 2 different kind of reports :
Both reports have exactly the same information.
Which of the reports would help you best in making business analysis or, at least, bring understanding more easily?
We always suggest to our clients’ staffs to, please, submit not only just reports but a story to your superordinate. Your boss would like to hear story supported by data, not data supported by story. It is great to have details and accurate data measurement, data dimension, and all terms data scientists talk about. But, without a story, they are like plants on dry ground.
As C-level of the organization, we love stories. Imagine, what if we could analyze current business performance (or even make business decision) from actual stories based on accurate data. One department could have a story and another department has different story. Each delivers their story for our ears, meanwhile, our eyes are looking at data visualization they provide, helping us understanding their stories. This is exactly where data visualization takes important role.
How could your staffs prepare the story? First, they need data to tell. We believe, if you have implemented softwares, your business already has data. It could be stored in cloud server, your dedicated server, or any physical drives that your business has. But, is the data reachable? Can your staff access the data easily? Cut and filter the data as they want to make it contextual to their story? And easily display the data to be meaningful?
If you already have the software that accomodate those needs, great! But if your business does not yet have such software, we suggest you consider to empower your team providing data at their fingertips, providing tools that makes data extraction as easy as possible, and easing data visualization.
Sometimes we know that we have the data, but most often, getting it relevant for our own business is the problem. Data might be ‘buried’ deep down that it is hard to find. Or, it could be ‘dirty’ as in not relevant and not accurate. Or, it could even be ‘messy’, up to a point that data is not load-able, and therefore, no visualization feasible. These problems bring difficulties in visualizing data, let alone making story out of it.
For that, an ETL process is introduced. ETL is where data gets treatments: Extract, Transform, Load. Problems about data has shifted from data scarcity to too much data. Hence, data extraction is typically conducted to make it relevant. The extraction might directly give what we want, otherwise, data should be transformed to a structure that make it performant. We want our chart to show up speedily, thus, our query must be fast, thus, data must be structured in such a way that support the desired speed. Finally, the transformed data is loaded to a system ready to be visualized.
ETL process is crucial for reporting and data visualization, showing the output of softwares we implement. Many softwares could handle transactions properly. But many also miss the importance of transforming the data from transactional record to assets for analysis. We understand the importance of analytical data and how it could impact businesses. Therefore, we prepare our end-to-end solution comprehensively. If you have softwares that only take care of transactional data, our solution could integrate with the current system. When you do not have software for transactional data yet, it is time to have it.
When ETL process is done, data preparation is almost complete. Moving forward, we should give data retrieval some tests; How fast could data travel from backend system to beautiful chart on user’s screen. Months we spent doing proper data retrieval tests to get desired loading time. Using set of hardware and software tools our client has, we configure data indexing, data partition, and other system parameters from OS-level up to Application-level.
Once data retrieval fits nicely to our expectation, data visualization could finally take place. It involves mostly selecting right type of charts to bring meaning of the data. More importantly, visualization is about backing up the story you want to tell.
I hope we can have more discussion on how visualization of your data could bring benefit for your company.
In summary, if you already have software as system of your business, it is time to take the next step. But if you don’t, it is never too late. The next step is to visualize your data. We visualize because we want to make analysis of the business to back business decisions. Visualization makes data clearer and analysis easier. Our solution works on existing software you might already have. We aim to bring your data handy, relevant, and intuitively easy to understand. In return, you would have your business telling you the story about itself; how has it been since last year, how healthy it is, or even how is it likely to perform next quarter.
Enough talking, time for some demos :
Data visualization demo
Income Statement Dashboard
Google Sheet Dashboard
The Google Sheet Dashboard above retrieves its data from Google Sheet. You can take a look at the Google Sheet file here :
Google Sheet file
If you are managing your report in Google Sheet, now you can have cool dashboard to visualize your data!
To demonstrate, you could send us your Google Sheet link and we will setup a dashboard for you, free of charge.
We might make some changes to your Google Sheet file when neccessary, so please backup your file and give us edit privilege. We hold no responsibility of altered data and its impact. Few mandatory things :
– please make the file public
– please keep a backup for yourself
– please give edit privilege
You would see how easy it is for you to have a dashbaord, even from Google Sheet. When your business is getting bigger and you have a database system, it would be much easier to build such dashboard.
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