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Data without a story is like a palette without a painting

A, B, C, D…we have 26 alphabet characters in the English language. We have 2 versions of each, upper and lower case. That gives us 52 characters from which to form words. This is the data. But have you ever wondered where “upper and lower case” came from? In the early days of printing, each character was represented on an individual block called a sort. Character sorts were selected and placed into composing sticks. Typesetters would select the characters from a case containing the sorts. Capital letters were stored in the back of the tray, as they were less frequently used. Trays when pulled out would be set upright so the capital letter would be on the top side, hence “upper case”. This is the story. Now we are all familiar with our alphabet, so the story in this instance is not particularly helpful in helping you understand the data. However, it does help you understand the nomenclature around the data. In many cases where we have data we are prone to share the facts and figures and expect the listeners to paint their own story as to why the data is important. In some cases, they may get it right. But when they get it wrong, when it’s not the story we appreciate, we get frustrated. This is often due to “the curse of knowledge” which is the title of a post dedicated to this topic. We know the data and story so well we can’t imagine someone not seeing it as we do. Remember: It’s not what you say that matters, it’s what people understand than matters. So if your listener doesn’t understand, it’s not their problem…it’s yours. At other times, it’s just because we know the data and haven’t imagined the story. If you are presenting data in an effort to get someone to make a decision, this is most likely not going to work. Simon Sinek in his very popular “Start with Why” TED Talk explains that people don’t make decisions based on what you do, but rather based on why you do it. We have great data and powerful insights that can help shape life on this planet. But it’s our, it’s your responsibility to leverage that data in a way it has impact and meaning. Stories help you do that. If you are wondering what that looks like, I point you to the late Hans Rosling who passed away last month. His “Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen” TED Talk is considered to be one of the most informative and enchanting performances of data. If you watch his video you will see how he uses tools of storytelling, like dialog and flow of events to make the data jump off the screen and into the minds and memories of his listeners. So if you are a data scientist, my hat is off to you. Your curiosity and analytic skills are key to understanding the almost infinite amount of information available to each of us. Your observations and findings are incredible and important. I challenge you to not leave it there. Behind the data there are great stories as to why it’s important. So when you are sharing, start with why. Tell a data illustrated story. Learn about the storytelling capabilities in Cognos Analytics by participating in a webinar on March 23rd, 2017. You can register here.

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Shocking Data Dashboard Confession: “I’ve Deceived You”

Shocking Data Dashboard Confession: "I've Deceived You" Years of mistaking correlation for causation When your data dashboard reaches full AI maturity, it will have to apologize: “Sorry I’ve been deceiving you.” Without you knowing, it’s delivered years of misinformation.  That dashboard solution that promised it would always be, ‘intuitive, interactive, and drag & drop’ will use its AI capability to say, “It’s not my fault; I was never equipped to show differences between causation and correlation.”  Odds are high that your data discovery vendor has been ignoring analytics. That data ‘snapshot’ in your dashboard did not make you a better leader or decision maker.  In fact, it deceived you into seeing correlation instead of causation—a mistake that has sunk many careers. “…dashboards are poor at providing the nuance and context that effective data-driven decision making demands.” -Harvard Business Review 13Jan2017 The Harvard Business Review (HBR) offers caution to executives everywhere; your dashboard can mislead you.  The HBR article “3 Ways Data Dashboards Can Mislead You” makes its point clear; you need both predictive and prescriptive analytics to get dashboards right.   Many data discovery vendors have been ignoring this for years by offering dashboards that only deal with current or past activity. “Make your data make an impact “ – Data discovery vendor The tagline offered by one vendor makes it sound like visualization is all you need to prove your point. But what if the visualization misleads you?  In the graphic below, you’ll see an obvious pattern between people who die from becoming tangled in bedsheets and per capita cheese consumption in the US (Source: Spurious Correlations).  Most dashboards and data discovery tools deceive you into the belief these groupings are interconnected.  There is correlation in values but it does NOT mean that change in one variable (cheese) is the cause of change in the values of other variables (death).  You won’t know, but your dashboard was misleading you.          “It’s far too easy — and unfortunately common — for managers to interpret the groupings in a dashboard as causative when they may not be.” -Harvard Business Review 13Jan2017 When you’re caught up in the elegance of data dashboards, it’s easy to dismiss the underlying analytics.  An attractive chart describing what has happened is undoubtedly less intimidating than an attempt to understand what will happen.   But there’s no longer an excuse for mistaking the two. Past activity is not a predictor of the future. In the past, analytics might have been inaccessible to senior management, but with new natural-language solutions, that no longer needs to be the case. Don’t wait for your data dashboard confession.  If your dashboard could talk right now it might say, “Save yourself and see what analytics can do for you.  Start a free trial of Watson Analytics before it’s too late!”

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Geospatial data mapping with #Cognos Analytics and Mapbox

Geospatial information has a long history, but advances in available technologies have finally made it a highly efficient tool. Mapping and geospatial tools now allow us to visualize, analyze and interpret data, adding further understanding of trends, patterns and relationships. Years ago, every traveler needed a folded paper map to guide them at their destination. Nowadays, far more information is available with the push of a button. With geospatial intelligence, people today not only use digital maps to get real-time information about things like weather and traffic conditions but also rely on their maps to get tips about the best local restaurants, hotels, gas stations and other amenities. In addition to helping people move from one place to another much faster than they otherwise could, these new technologies can also improve transportation itself, for example by anticipating upcoming hills and instructing drivers how to optimize fuel economy. To see another example of the value of geospatial technology, look at healthcare. Even though these technologies are still relatively new, the healthcare sector is already seeing applications of the technology to map diseases. Healthcare applications now allow professionals to visualize the spread of disease and add context to patient records with demographic data. This patient information, combined with satellite data including rainfall, temperature and vegetation, further helps inform logistics and coordinate healthcare efforts in real time. IBM has partnered with Mapbox to bring geospatial capabilities to on-premises and on-cloud deployments of Cognos Analytics. The result is nearly unlimited opportunities for quickly categorizing and identifying key insights for retail, defense, insurance, utilities, natural resources, social sciences, medicine and public safety, to name a few. These powerful new mapping and geospatial capabilities are available with the latest release of Cognos Analytics. Organizations, already awash in customer data, know geospatial capabilities can put a new ‘lens’ on existing reports. Data from smartphones, GPS devices and social media has organizations anxious to factor in customer location, origin or destination along with time or date. Cognos Analytics, combined with open data movement and Mapbox spatial analysis capabilities, can help reinvent the way you report and solve department problems in logistics, HR, supply chain management, sales and much more. Join the next Charting Your Analytical Future webinar, on December 8th, to see and learn about the world-class mapping and geospatial capabilities that have been added to IBM Cognos Analytics. Discover how you can add a geographic dimension to visualizing critical business information in your reports and dashboards.

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Generation Now: Analytics Evolves

We’re driving from descriptive and diagnostic into unbiased decision with analytics always serving as the ‘engine’ underneath it all.   Join me on November 10th at 11AM ET (15:00 GMT) to learn more.   Register here. The rise of cognitive systems marks the birth of a new era for analytics. Cognitive capabilities take analytics to the next level, fundamentally changing how systems are built and interact with humans. Although still in its infancy, cognitive computing is already being operationalized by a small group of visionaries around the globe. During our webcast, we’ll present the latest research on who are the leaders preparing for cognitive.  Our findings from our seventh annual analytics study indicates close to three-fourths of organizations are ready – at least from a data and analytics standpoint – to follow these leaders. However, joining the cognitive era also requires the right data mindset, a robust data ecosystem, and new and enhanced skills. Like human beings, cognitive systems are always learning and evolving and therefore your journey should begin simply but can move quickly.   If you’re wondering what it takes to be ready, join us on November 10th at 11AM ET (15:00 GMT).  Register here.

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Journey to Cognitive Excellence: Harness the Force of a Strong Analytics Foundation #ibmwow

Julie Severance, IBM Global Leader, Data & Analytics Strategy & Initiatives, will be leading an educational panel on cognitive excellence at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016. Join us in Las Vegas, October 24-27 for this panel and many other exciting activities. Learn more here. Becoming a cognitive business is a journey, not a destination.  A cognitive analytics culture is not something you can just buy or install.  Although the right technology is crucial, its true value arises when the organizational mindset changes. Many organizations have learned to embrace analytics, but embracing cognitive is another step entirely, and it’s one that may be even more challenging.  However, the possibilities are endless and the potential rewards make it worthwhile. It’s important to understand that analytics and cognitive technologies are fundamentally different. Analytics is a ruled-based system that applies predetermined algorithms to vast amounts of data. It requires you to know what you’re looking for, and how to ask in a way the system can understand. By contrast, a cognitive system can learn, and can interact with people using natural language. That means an unprecedented flexibility and agility: you can ask the system what you want, and it can figure out new and better ways of interpreting data and reaching goals. In other words, you no longer have to tell the computer system exactly what to do. But this cognitive flexibility also means a challenge to business operations because the organization needs to be able to respond to these changing and sometimes radically unexpected suggestions.  Moreover, people throughout your organization need to know how to leverage emerging capabilities like cognitive technology, and must understand the unique types of insights and uncertainties that a cognitive system can provide. Plenty of research shows, organizations that excel recognize the importance of building a strong foundation that embraces all forms of data and advanced analytic capabilities.  And when you introduce cognitive capabilities into the organization, the possibilities are endless.  While analytics handles the structured data, cognitive can dive into unstructured elements such as texts, pictures, blogs, social media and more.  Taken together, cognitive and analytics can address different business needs, and can see the same data from different perspectives, bringing greater insights than either individual technology. Come, join us at our panel session 2993: Journey to Cognitive Excellence - Harness the Force of a Strong Analytics Foundation at IBM Insight at World of Watson. Meet professionals from the aerospace, health care, industrial construction and IT industries (and co-authors of “The 5 Keys to Business Analytics Program Success”).  Be prepared to learn what it takes to achieve excellence in building a cognitive business (how to manage a changing strategy; tackle culture challenges when introducing new capabilities; align business priorities; quantify and demonstrate tangible business value; implement processes that balance agility, empowerment, and governance; evolve talent and skills; and architect a solution with future innovation in mind).   Register now at: http://ibm.co/CAWoW1FB  

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The Analytics Journey from a Department to an Enterprise #ibmwow

Blog editor’s note: Sonia Arora and Greg McDonald will be leading a session that takes a deeper look at the analytics journey at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016. Join us in Las Vegas, October 24-27, for this session and many other exciting activities. Learn more here. We all know Business Intelligence is mission-critical to run a successful organization. Our clients need it to run their daily operations effectively and to explore new areas of growth. Analytics has proven so effective that the demand for it in every part of organization has exceeded IT's ability to deliver on time. Organizations want a smarter, intuitive, self-service BI tool for their business users. Organizations today face multiple challenges with respect to analytics and data governance: - Find the right equilibrium between providing freedom to business users and not creating data silos. - Give the business users the speed and agility they need to make the right decisions faster while reducing their dependence on IT to provide that information on time. - Avoid inconsistent business rules and definitions, so that there is no argument about whose numbers are correct. - Base business discussions throughout the organization on one set of trusted data. - Make sure the data is up-to-date and readily available. - Make sure the data that is governed so that there are no concerns about business users working with sensitive or private information. Business Intelligence should not be a disruption but rather something that works alongside your business needs. Irrespective of where you are in your analytics journey – whether you are starting a new analytics project, ready to roll out to additional users, or ready to share with other departments – the tool should be easy to install to cater to a few users immediately. And when demand grows, it should be easy to make available to everyone in your enterprise. You want BI to be up and running with just few clicks so that your business users can start their analytics exploration without any wait time or training. To learn more about how easy IBM Cognos Analytics is to install, manage, govern, scale and use, join us for Session 2004: Baby Steps - The Analytics Journey from a Department to an Enterprise at IBM Insight at World of Watson. Register now: http://ibm.co/CAWoW1FB

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Shining the Light on Dark Data through Data Preparation and Cognitive Analytics

Blog editor’s note: Dan Potter, the author of this blog, will be leading a session that takes a deeper look at Cognos Analytics and unlocking data insights at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016. Join us in Las Vegas, October 24-27 for this session and many other exciting activities. Learn more here. Data preparation has historically been a major drag on the effectiveness of analytics and business intelligence solutions. It has typically required a specialized data scientist who could prepare the data, resolve any discrepancies and format it for analysis. As analytics solutions get more sophisticated and are able to process more and more types of unstructured data—including so-called “dark data,” or information that is collected, processed and stored during regular business activities but not commonly used in analytics—the challenge only grows. According to the 2015 Stratecast Cloud User Survey, up to 60 percent of a typical analyst’s time is spent on data preparation. This burden of data preparation has historically meant that analytics has been done by dedicated specialists; it simply wasn’t possible for professionals in other areas of the business to add analytic insight to their normal workflow. But analytic insights are most useful when they are widely shared throughout the enterprise and when professionals in all areas of the business have access to analytic tools to help them make sense of the data that’s relevant to their particular jobs. Fortunately, leading analytics companies have started to respond to this pressure by developing self-service data preparation tools, which use cognitive technology to help automate and standardize the data preparation process. With cognitive-guided self-service features, more users than ever before can access relevant data, prepare it for analysis, apply analytic tools, package the results in a visually-appealing format, and share them throughout the organization. Cognitive-guided self-service data preparation promises to be “the next big disruption in business intelligence”[1] Fortunately, it’s a disruption that holds enormous potential to make analytics even more useful and expand its scope to even more types of data. In the future, fewer and fewer types of data will be “dark.” To learn more about IBM Cognos Analytics and how it can help you derive insights from even more types of data, join us for Session 3026 - Shining the Light on Dark Data through Data Preparation and Cognitive Analytics at IBM World of Watson. Register now: http://ibm.co/CAWoW1FB [1] http://www.datawatch.com/resource-center/webinars/gartner-dataprep-nxt-disruption/

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2016 #Cognos #Analytics Conference Guide for IBM Insight at World of Watson #ibmwow

Blog editor’s note: Nickolus Plowden, the author of this blog, will be leading multiple sessions that take a deeper look at Cognos Analytics at IBM World of Watson 2016. Join us in Las Vegas, October 24-27 for these sessions and many other exciting activities. Learn more here. Use this handy guide to plan your visit to World of Watson: 2016 Cognos Analytics Conference Guide for World of Watson Analytics, business intelligence and cognitive technology — even if you work in this field every day, the complexity and change can still seem daunting. IBM Cognos Analytics is part of this world: it’s the next generation of Cognos Business Intelligence and it’s designed to bring smarter, cognitive-driven, self-service options into the data reporting realm. Cognos Analytics is built on trusted, enterprise-ready analytic technology, and it features a new user interface that was designed to be easy for virtually anyone to use. But we realize it can be hard to know where to get started with a new solution, or even whether that solution is right for you. Fortunately, there is a multi-day event coming up soon that’s dedicated to informing you, introducing you to new technologies and people, and giving you an opportunity for hands-on learning. The knowledge you gain here can drive lasting change for your business. That’s IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016. There will be a wealth of educational options at World of Watson, so the Cognos Analytics team has put together a session guide specifically for those of you who are interested in our product. There are plenty of ways that you can learn more and give it a try. So download the guide— (2016 Cognos Analytics Conference Guide for World of Watson)it gives the whole rundown on the Cognos Analytics curriculum, including relevant keynotes, hands-on studio sessions, breakout sessions, social channels  and discussion sessions. There’s even the option for huge discounts on certification courses. Whether you’re focused solely on Cognos Analytics or want to experience more of the range of sessions at World of Watson, this guide is a great first step. You can’t learn if you don’t join. Register now for IBM Insight at World of Watson.

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Mastering Cognos Analytics dashboards

Blog editor’s note: Nicolas Leduc, the author of this blog, will be leading a session that takes a deeper look at IBM Cognos Analytics and self-service dashboards at IBM World of Watson 2016. Join us in Las Vegas, October 24-27 for this session and many other exciting activities. Learn more here. Maybe your company has a person that you go to for analytics advice. This person has been working with analytics forever — maybe even since the 1990s — and knows just what to do to prepare different kinds of data, set up analytics queries, understand the significance of the findings and package the results in a pretty format. This person is the analytics maven, the expert, the oracle who can get the most out of your company’s analytics technology. With the self-service dashboard features in IBM Cognos Analytics, you can be that person. And with the right training, it can happen more quickly than you think. Using an analytics solution no longer requires years of hard-won experience. IBM Cognos Analytics has sophisticated capabilities embedded into the solution in the form of automated features. This means you can use smart intent-based search other intuitive methods to interact with your data. The solution can interpret what you’re looking for, join data sources in a sensible way, guide you towards insights and help you visualize and share the results. Automated dashboard features and lots of prebuilt templates mean that you can apply dashboards to your data very quickly. The practical upshot of all this technology is that the right IBM Cognos Analytics training can also be quick training. In just a few minutes, you can master the use of analytic dashboards in IBM Cognos Analytics — and start generating results that will impress your colleagues and bosses. To learn more about IBM Cognos Analytics and how it can help you build impressive and impactful dashboards, join us for Session 1537 - Blow your colleagues away by mastering IBM Cognos Analytics dashboards at IBM World of Watson. Register now: http://ibm.co/CAWoW1FB

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Experience Cognos Analytics at IBM World of Watson

IBM World of Watson is two months away and we are gearing to maximise your experience on advanced analytics, business analytics, big data and business intelligence. Whether you are starting your analytics journey or you are a seasoned business intelligence practitioner, we have an unparalleled range of sessions to get you quickly up-to-speed or fine tune your BI performance. The comprehensive IBM Cognos Analytics sessions drill down to the latest BI and analytics topics and challenges based on your role, experience level and key focus. Here are some of the IBM Cognos Analytics hot topics and relevant sessions. Register now for IBM World of Watson. Book your spot and build your agenda now! Self-service BI Learn how business users access advanced analytics that are easy to use, and allow them to make decisions in a timely manner. Explore the key concepts of configuring and tuning the IBM Cognos Analytics stack so you can experience the advantages of self-service dashboards and managed reports. You also get visualization tips for enhancing and boosting user experience. 1216 - Themes, embedding and extensibility: Cognos Analytics your way 1539 - Everything you need to know to upgrade to IBM Cognos Analytics 2190 - Modern and smart: IBM’s business intelligence and analytics platform 3028 - Industry Expert Panel: Must-have requirements for today’s enterprise BI and analytics platforms 3334 - Is IT still relevant in a self-service world? 3555 - Creating a data-driven culture with smarter self-service BI   IBM Cognos Analytics on Cloud These sessions detail the latest capabilities of IBM Cognos Analytics on Cloud for those new to BI as SaaS, and for current users who want to migrate their work to the cloud to improve IT economics, speed and agility. Compare capabilities of on-premise and cloud deployments and address the pros and cons of each. 1549 - Showing some analytics SaaS: IBM Cognos Analytics on IBM dashDB 1754 - Getting technical with your IBM Cognos Analytics on Cloud options 2193 - Adopting Cognos Analytics: Customer Perspectives 2252 - On-demand BI: Starting or ‘bridging’ IBM Cognos Analytics on Cloud   Mapping and geospatial visualization Explore the mapping and geospatial capabilities that were recently added to IBM Cognos Analytics. Discover how you can add geographic dimension to visualizing critical business information in reports and dashboards. 1070 - Mapping and geospatial visualization in IBM Cognos Analytics 2879 - Data of a different color: Highlighting insights in data   Dashboard creation These sessions introduce you to data modules and dashboard creation in IBM Cognos Analytics. Using proven practices, you will be creating fully consumable dashboards with just a few clicks in less than ten minutes! 1361 - Designing effective reports and dashboards with IBM Cognos Analytics 1537 - Blow your colleagues away by mastering IBM Cognos Analytics dashboards 2407 - In just 10 minutes you can be creating dashboards with Cognos Analytics   What’s new and next in IBM Cognos Analytics Get an update on IBM Cognos Analytics - product enhancements and market reactions – as we present the opinions of customers and share a view into the future of modern self-service and managed reporting. 1891 - What’s new and what’s next in Cognos Analytics 3026 - Shining the light on dark data through data preparation and cognitive analytics 3511 - The ease of upgrading to IBM Cognos Analytics   Customer speak Our sessions include customer stories from Kaiser Permanente, The Boeing Company, Magellan Health, International Medical Corps, Paraná Equipamentos and more. 2285 – Debuting IBM Cognos Analytics at The Boeing Company 2383 - How Boeing lands value and enhanced visual analytics with IBM Cognos Analytics 2420 - Data modeling with IBM Cognos Analytics: Tips and tricks from Kaiser Permanente 2636 - Accentuating the positive: Turning data into knowledge at Magellan Health 2677 - Paraná Equipamentos replaces QlikView with a BI-as-a-Service solution from DW Brasil and IBM 2757 - Improving response times and saving lives with advanced analytics at International Medical Corps   Register now for IBM World of Watson. Book your spot and build your agenda now!