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Using Analytics Software to Ask Different Questions


Analytics is one of the fastest growing categories of software.  Sales of products like Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Qlik and Splunk are growing rapidly and analytics is being placed in the hands of more users than ever before. 

Analytics tools make it easier to visualize and understand your data, but there is still plenty of work for us as analytics end users. 

Now that we have analytics, what can we do with them?  Here are some approaches that may help you harness analytics for your business or research.

  1. Learn from others. Like writing an original song, a good place to seek inspiration is by learning the works of others. Check out reports in your industry and other industries to get ideas on new analytic approaches.  COVID-19 provided a great opportunity for analytics, especially geographic representations of case and mortality data.  You can view sources like the Johns Hopkins COVID map https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html or the informationisbeautiful visualizations https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/ You can check out winners of visualization awards in blog posts such as https://visme.co/blog/best-data-visualizations/ 
  2. Read a book or watch a video.  Don't limit yourself to learning about your particular business intelligence or analytics product. Explore the competitors and see what they are showing off as the state of the art. 
  3. Experiment with visualizations. In addition to using the type of visualization that you think is the correct fit, try another.  Try a new graph type you have never used before.  See whether your data looks different through a new lens. 
  4. Drill down into your data. Use the aggregated data as a gateway to detailed data.  Drill into your graph and see what you find.  Does the detail mean what you think it does in the aggregate?  Is there another way to look at it?
You could list activities by their level of risk, but why not convey more information with size, color and position as below?

Source: https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/

So let your imagination run free and try new data visualizations today.

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