Friday, July 6, 2012

MSTechEd Europe 2012 Day 3: BI and Data Visualization

I finally had some time to work out some of the stuff from the MSTeched Europe from last week.
I have a few other sessions I'd like to share and see also on Channel 9, so you'll see some more posts coming soon hopefully!

This session given by Jen Stirrup was about BI and data visualizations, mostly about PowerPivot (download) and Power View.

The session starts out with a more theoretic (Jen's) view of Business Intelligence and how visualizations determine the first impression of humans.
The comparison is made between Traditional BI vs New End User BI, where BI is about people first and the technology is an enabler. Business users have to embrace the BI solutions being build, otherwise there's no feeling with the system build and it will not be adopted within the business.
Traditional BI is difficult for IT and also takes a long time to build where End User BI is more flexible and mashups are possible.
This is a spreadsheet to manage my spreadsheets!
Starting with a quick look at PowerPivot: it gives users the power to create compelling self-service BI solutions using a familiar Excel Interface. It can be used for mashups, has a high performance due to the xVelocity in memory analytics engine (a.k.a. VertiPaq) and has sophisticated Time Intelligence functions.

Business puzzles vs Business mysteries
Excel (PowerPivot) is used  for business puzzles: the business has a very well defined question and a well defined answer. Compared to Power View: we have an ill defined business question and an ill defined answer which make up the business mysteries.

The prerequisites for Power View are
- SQL Server 2012
- SharePoint (Enterprise) 2010 SP1
There is supposed to be no typing in Power View (except for the name of the charts), so it's all about dragging, dropping, slicing and brushing and filtering data.

Data visualization is about people:
- preattentive processing: we see lines and colors, in 2D
- visual integration: we see faces
- cognitive integration: use context and world knowledge and look back top-down
People tend to look at the top right corner of a page or chart first.
The Line, Bar and Scatter chart are best used when we take into account the above theories. This is why Jen doesn't really like Pie charts because they use area and angles, both are not well read.

Andy Caddy pointed out the following pie chart to Jen last week!

Something that also stood by me was the comparison made with Kylie Minoque when looking at pie charts. In "Can't get you out of my head" she nodges here head to left and right, that's what people tend to do when looking at pie charts when the slice is not starting at 12 o'clock in the pie chart.

Power View has the possibility to export your page to PowerPoint and interact with that page inside the presentation. An instance of Power View is loaded, therefore a connection to SharePoint is also needed, and you can slice and dice in the same way as in Power View.

I also had the honour to speak to her in person after her session. Nice meeting you Jen!
You can watch the full session at Channel 9 here.

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