Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Visualization and Dashboarding

As usual I came into the office and checked out the latest information nuggets from the twitter world. I wanted to highlight Google virtualization API.

"The Google Visualization API lets you access multiple sources of structured data that you can display, choosing from a large selection of visualizations. Google Visualization API enables you to expose your own data, stored on any data-store that is connected to the web, as a Visualization compliant datasource. Thus you can create reports and dashboards as well as analyze and display your data through the wealth of available visualization applications."

Dashboard technology is usually used by management in a corporate setting. Essentially a senior manager logs onto their intranet home page and dashboard data is personalized and presented to that senior manager based upon their role, responsibility, targets, goals and personal interests. This information may be presented in graphs, pie charts and tables. The senior manager is then able to click on the graphs and tables and drill -down to see how those higher level metrics were calculated. Have a look at this demo and a technical wiki on the subject,

The Google offering deals with the initial dashboarding requirements but it is not yet able to provide a rich drill-down experience. I think its limitations are acknowlwdges in the title of the offering "Google Visualization"

I am a keen advocate of SaaS solutions and believe that these types of tools can assist organisations in deliver something quickly. My personal view is that it would be limited when the requirements for a company would be to be able to drill down through layer after layer of metrics and KPI data.

If a client just wants visualization then here is a piece of emerging technology from IBM's Alphaworks that is not widely known about "Many Eyes". It provides visualization of information similar to Google Virtualization although you need to upload the datasets into the service to produce a visualization. I have included a screen shot of a sample visualization.

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