Dashboards, blind spots and storytelling: Three Analytics University themes resonate

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Dashboards, blind spots and storytelling: Three Analytics University themes resonate

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There were the soulful, upbeat sounds of the New Orleans jazz band.

Not to mention the festive music of Leierkasten Lutz.

And so, to the tunes of one or both, business people and technical experts alike eagerly came to together from around the globe. Their goal? To learn how to successfully modernize, implement, and grow their analytics platforms and shape the future of their organizations. Where? At the first ever IBM Analytics University.

Overall, the goal of Analytics University was to guide attendees along their journeys to being analytics-driven. However, we knew not everyone is  in the same place on that journey. Therefore, we provided four different routes to insights. As a result, attendees with various roles and levels of experience could all gain access to immense expertise in different aspects of the IBM Analytics suite.

What key insights from the event resonated across social media?

Using social media sentiment analysis, we examined a random sampling of social data in Watson Analytics for Social Media. So, we saw that smart data discovery and business intelligence were some of the most talked about subjects, followed by planning and predictive analytics.

dashboards - smart data discovery

Plus, the sentiment was primarily positive.

dashboards - theme sentiment

Next, we used Watson Analytics for Social Media to go deeper into social media analytics to listen and learn. As we dug into the social streams, some key themes surfaced. These themes overall had the highest levels of engagement. Moreover, they appeared as we looked into the specific mentions at the event. Let’s take a look.

The importance of knowing your blind spots

During the opening keynote in both locations, IBM’s General Manager of Business Analytics, Marc Altshuller, asked the audience to do three things :

  1. Move beyond quick and misleading insights.
  2. Augment your data to “find the signal.”
  3. Audit your findings, challenge bias, find patterns, and kill the correlation.

dashboards - 3 things tweet

His point was that you can’t get real and lasting insights quickly. Sure, data visualizations can get you started. But, they can often be misleading when taken out of context. That’s why you should always do further research with more advanced analytics.

So, when you’re analyzing your internal data, you should always go outside your organization and add to it with external data. A good example? Take the insights we discovered from social media about Analytics University and compare our findings with data IBM collected to gauge the success of the event.

Dashboards are dangerous

As Joel Shapiro took the stage to warn us of the dangers of the dashboard, many attendees agreed. And, they echoed his warnings in social media. His presentation reminded us to not to rely solely on data visualizations for business decisions. Instead, he recommended we focus on the business outcomes and priorities when making large organizational decisions.


Then, after the keynote, many attended our various sessions and hands-on labs over the course of a few days. Again, the topics of smart data discovery and business intelligence were what people were talking about most on social media. As a result, we learned that attendees were interested in hearing from other clients on the steps they took to embed business analytics and smart data discovery as they began their analytics journeys. And, we discovered others were benefiting from tips on implementation and governance. Meanwhile, others were discussing what becoming analytics-driven could require in terms of an organizational culture shift.

Let me tell you a story about a theme

A theme that appeared to bubble up when analyzing the social feed was storytelling with data visualization. Of course, we don’t want to be “dumb and dangerous” with our dashboards. But, we can use them as one piece of the puzzle in showcasing data insights. For example, product Manager of IBM Cognos Analytics Kevin McFaul, presented a well-attended and engaging session called “Storytelling with data in IBM Cognos Analytics.” And, in the session, he reminded attendees who are storytelling with data to know their audience, understand what they’d like them to know, and what they’d like them to do.

dashboards - AU themes and mentions

Passion for learning

In summary, we were glad to see the participation in the first ever IBM Analytics University from our clients, business partners, and prospective users. Moreover, the passion for learning how to best wield the power of data analytics in organizations around the world inspired us. In addition, we hope attendees gained useful insights. Most importantly, we hope everyone who came made connections with others who are also on their paths to enhancing their use of data analytics to empower their organizations now and into the future.

Couldn’t make it to Analytics University?

There is nothing like getting firsthand experience with IBM Analytics. However, if you weren’t able to attend, we saved some of the magic for you. Therefore, you can catch the recording of the Analytics University keynote from New Orleans to hear more about dashboards, blind spots and storytelling. And, visit us online to learn more about how business analytics can help you fuel creativity, find new opportunities, and turn insight into action.


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