I thought that would catch your attention, bling always catches mine. Lately our team has been heads down focusing on the ability to visualize corporate data in new and unique ways. The SpotOn team has been talking to users from around the globe who are looking for ways to simplify the end user experience, empower users to interact with their data through visual building blocks rather than massive amounts of textual data and users who are simply looking for a better way to showcase their corporate data assets and keep employees interested. What is causing a little controversy is the data bling. Data Bling is a term I thought I coined until I went searching for it and found others feel the same way. Other data blingers exist! Visualize THIS! A world full of data bling. Very little text, lots of colour, animation, things spinning, getting bigger, smaller, changing shapes over time, moving high and low, high interaction through voice, touch and more…well you get the picture.
But when is data bling too much? Stephen Few (http://www.perceptualedge.com/) has some theories about eye candy in data visualization, one of which is that animation and gratuitous colors really shouldn’t be used unles the feature itself is conveying information. For example, a line draws upwards to show a trend, a tail of data fades as it draws so you can retain the context and view the past, present and maybe even the future of your data, red means bad, green means good , users roaming a map or map layers to find data points and so on. What we cannot ignore is that we all seem to be attracted to the eye candy, the data bling!
Pierre, our virtualization guy here at SpotOn, turned me on to the work of Hans Rosling and his team which is just magical when it comes to data visualization. To me, data visualization is cool, but this example will make data visualization cool for everyone! Partly because the technology is so great but also the passion that drove the technology to market and to eventually be acquired by Google. Take a look at this video, definitely an inspiring visualization experience!
Spinning funnels, exploding pie wedges, and the animated build of a bar graph are all very interesting, but the bling doesn’t really convey value, it simply entertains. At the end of the day, I’m not a purest when it comes to data visualization. I want my bling and data too. I am of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with data bling unless it overshadows, prevents or hinders the interpretation of data. Employers are always trying new ways to get their employees interested in data. Employers hear this, consider giving your employees some data bling. Keep them interested, focused and attracted to their data. Everything in moderation and finding that balance of bling and the beauty of data analysis through visual constructs appears to be a comfortable happy medium to me.
Stay tuned to the team at SpotOn over the next few months as we show you some examples of Cognos customers who are leveraging our technology, SpotOn Vantage, to put a little bling in their data step as we augment out of the box functionality and embed third party visualization technologies into their traditional Cognos Business Intelligence reporting applications!