Data Visualization Made Better

Balaji Ramanujam, CIO and SVP for Products, ASI Government

Challenges in Technology

While I see data sets everywhere, I don’t see them connected to or aligned with an organization’s value chain to provide timely insight for decision making (what many allude to as “strategy”). In my industry, the need is to get clean data sets on federal spending, corroborate that with other predictive data and provide visual insights for decision making. Data visualization is still in its infancy. It needs to be able to extract insights from raw data sets using deeper heuristic models.

For example, my nine-year-old son checks the weather report daily and chooses his clothes accordingly. Weather forecasts are complicated and draw from numerous data sources while factoring for aberrant changes. Countless organizations rely on weather predictions and visual weather charts, just like my son. I want to see something similar for industry and for value chain analytics.

360 Degree View

Sometimes, we may not get all of the data and may have to resort to intelligent guesses. For example, insurance actuaries employ customer data that isn’t available to industry, and they intelligently guess consumer behavior. For industry to do the same, we’d have to fill gaps with heuristic and historical patterns. Powerful data sources like AWS and Google, in conjunction with a tool like SAP HANA, could power a new revolution and fill those gaps. This is underway, but insights into an organization and its customers involve both vertical (depth) and horizontal (breadth), “stitchable” information. There’s ground to cover as we also address security and privacy issues before presenting a 360-degree view.

Role of CIOs

Technology is evolving from an enabler of business strategy to a trusted advisor. I envision a world in which data informs every strategic move–visual data that includes historical, predictive and competitive intelligence. This allows the CIO to serve as weatherman for the organization. Technology will bridge the gap between silos and provide stakeholders with the information and insights needed to perform at the next level.

“Data visualization is still in its infancy. It needs to be able to extract insights from raw data sets using deeper heuristic models”

The sum of the parts with information sharing is many times greater than the whole. As a result, CIOs play an indispensable role in an organization’s strategy, investments and business execution.

Getting Started

If you’re new to an organization, get involved in the business. Prove that technology increases enterprise value and sharpens a competitive edge. Work backward from that firm belief to align workflows, ideas and technical capabilities. Master the art of storytelling to engage with executives and Board members. And take control of any data visualization tools you can find to strengthen your story with quantifiable facts and trends.

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