As one of the industry-renowned data visualization experts Edward Tufte once said, “The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; the paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?” There’s indeed just too much information out there to be effectively analyzed by all categories of knowledge workers. More often than not, traditional tabular row-and-column reports do not paint the whole picture or — even worse — can lead an analyst to a wrong conclusion. There are multiple reasons to use data visualization; the three main ones are that one:
Cannot see a pattern without data visualization. Simply seeing numbers on a grid often does not tell the whole story; in the worst case, it can even lead one to a wrong conclusion. This is best demonstrated by Anscombe’s quartet, where four seemingly similar groups of x and y coordinates reveal very different patterns when represented in a graph.
Cannot fit all of the necessary data points onto a single screen. Even with the smallest reasonably readable font, single line spacing, and no grid, one cannot realistically fit more than a few thousand data points using numerical information only. When using advanced data visualization techniques, one can fit tens of thousands data points onto a single screen — a difference of an order of magnitude. In The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte gives an example of more than 21,000 data points effectively displayed on a US map that fits onto a single screen.
Demands by users of business intelligence (BI) applications to "just get it done" are turning typical BI relationships, such as business/IT alignment and the roles that traditional and next-generation BI technologies play, upside down. As business users demand more control over BI applications, IT is losing its once-exclusive control over BI platforms, tools, and applications. It's no longer business as usual: For example, organizations are supplementing previously unshakable pillars of BI, such as tightly controlled relational databases, with alternative platforms. Forrester recommends that business and IT professionals responsible for BI understand and start embracing some of the latest BI trends — or risk falling behind.
Traditional BI approaches often fall short for the two following reasons (among many others):
BI hasn't fully empowered information workers, who still largely depend on IT
BI platforms, tools and applications aren't agile enough
Cloud-based alternatives to message archiving are an increasingly attractive option for enterprise buyers. Budgetary constraints, coupled with increasing compliance regulations and eDiscovery needs, are compelling companies to search for message archiving solutions that offer a broad set of functionality at an attractive price. With today’s extended enterprise, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is top of mind as companies look to garner the cost-saving benefits and deployment advantages that this model can deliver. Strong adoption is well on its way. Among organizations rolling out message archiving in 2011, over one-fifth plan to implement a cloud-based solution, and I expect this number will only grow in 2012. For an evaluation of key vendors and key market shifts, Forrester clients can access the market overview on SaaS-based message archiving that we published last month.
A cloud-based solution is a viable solution for many, but message archiving professionals shouldn’t see these offerings as a panacea. Before embarking on taking message archiving to the cloud, make sure you’ve done your homework on vendor and contractual issues and continue to address the strategy, policy, and process challenges as you would with other in-house alternatives. Whether you’re rolling out your first message archiving solution or are planning to carry over your legacy application, make sure you're taking the necessary precautions to make sure that your implementation is a success.