By Justin Sommer, Principal Solutions Engineer, Deltek
Summary: In this blog Justin Sommer provides an overview of data visualization and how Deltek ERP solutions with data visualization tools can help users more easily analyze and visualize large amounts of data.
Most companies are collecting massive amounts of data every day and are looking for ways to make sense of all of this information. Data visualization is an effective way for companies to unlock insight from their data otherwise buried in databases and spreadsheets. With data visualization, patterns, trends and correlations in the data that may otherwise go undetected can be exposed and recognized more easily.
What is Data Visualization?
Data visualization is a representation of data using visual elements like charts and maps. When used effectively data visualizations can help organizations paint a story with their data and get the insights needed to make better business decisions. Companies can use data visualization to help them explore and analyze large amounts of data quickly—unlocking patterns, trends and correlations in the data—to identify areas of opportunity or areas for improvement. The more efficiently your company uses its data, the more potential you have to thrive and grow.
Selecting the Right Charts
Even simple visualizations can provide greater insight into data. However, not all data can be visualized the same way. Here are a few basic principles to follow:
Note: Since our eyes cannot easily compare pieces of a pie, it’s best to avoid using pie charts. When the same data is displayed in a sorted bar chart it will be easier to detect and compare values.
A Classic Example of Data Visualization
So how exactly does data visualization work? The table below, Anscombe’s Quartet, was constructed by statistician Francis Anscombe to demonstrate the importance of data visualization. Look at the table and focus on the columns in each group (A, B, C, and D). Can you spot any trends or outliers?
Then scroll down to the scatter plots below the table to see what they reveal.
As you can see, in these scatter plots you are now able to clearly see trends, patterns and outliers you weren’t able to detect in the simple Anscombe text table.
As systems and infrastructure have advanced—so has data analytics. Take ERP systems for example that make it easy for users to create their own interactive dashboards with drag and drop functionality. Dashboards can easily be created for users across an organization by role: executives, financial managers, sales managers, project managers, HR managers, IT/operations staff and more. Information can be secured so that users see only the data they have access to. Interactive dashboards allow users to interact with the data visualizations and drill down for deeper analysis.
Here is an example of a Deltek role-based dashboard that an HR manager might use to analyze trends in the age of their workforce, see gaps in pay, understand staffing demands or do an in-depth salary analysis. Since the dashboard is based on real-time information, as data changes the dashboard is updated in real-time.
ERP Trends in Data Visualization
Advanced visualization tools are now being embedded into ERP solutions. This is extremely powerful in terms of the insight companies can gain about their business. Here are some of the trends in ERP happening now related to data visualization:
Data for Everyone
Data is becoming more accessible. Companies are realizing that accessibility to data helps people within the organization become more productive. When users across an organization have access to data—it can be the difference between project success and project failure—impacting a firm’s bottom line.
ERP with data visualization tools enable a self-service environment for people within an organization to quickly pull data and make sense of it without a background in data science. Rich, visual reports, analytics and dashboards can be created that give executives and others across the organization real-time visual information for fast insight into project and company performance.
The focus on self-service tools combined with the emergence of artificial intelligence is making it easier for users to explore data that systems are collecting. Richer visualizations enabled by AI are enabling users across organizations to improve their data analysis and comprehension. AI can help to reveal relationships within the data—and can also help to create charts that best describe the data.
Storytelling with Data
Another trend in ERP and data visualization is a focus on storytelling. Storytelling is taking the data and using powerful, engaging visualizations to communicate insights with others. Whether you are a financial manager presenting month end financials from the ERP system or a project manager reviewing project performance with upper management, when your ERP system has built in data visualization tools that enable storytelling, it can help you to more effectively communicate your analysis and insight.
Are you able to answer critical questions about your business and project performance quickly and confidently? Deltek ERP with data visualization can help your organization gain insight from the data you are collecting—to make better business decisions and drive your business forward.
If you are a government contractor I encourage you to check out my webinar “Increase Your Productivity with Ad Hoc Business Intelligence” for more information. For more information on Deltek solutions specific to your industry visit https://www.deltek.com/en/industries.
About the Author
As a Principal Solutions Engineer at Deltek, Justin Sommer specializes in Budgeting, Reporting, Analytics and Costpoint. He helps current and future customers understand what Deltek has to offer and how it best fits within their organization to improve their business. Before his current role Justin was an Accountant, ERP Specialist and Business Manager for a government contractor. His role at the government contractor included a focus on Earned Value Management (EVM) that he continues to specialize in today at Deltek. He now enjoys working with Costpoint and helping customers improve their business.
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