Visual Analytics

Why Visualization is important

According to Research Scientist Andrew McAfee and Professor Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT, the amount of data that crosses the Internet every second is greater than all the data stored in the Internet just 20 years ago. This amounts to exabytes of data being created on a daily basis. The human brain on the other hand is incapable of processing hundreds and thousands of variables at once, let alone millions and billions. Yet information can inform and enlighten your business practices, direction and vision.

Fortunately, there is something to help human brain not only imagine corporate information, but also consume it, data visualization. Data visualization is the representation of data in a pictorial or graphical format. The purpose of data visualization is to simplify data values, promote the understanding of them, and communicate important concepts and ideas.

Visualizations are the single easiest way for human brains to receive and interpret large amounts of information. Data visualization gives business users the ability to use information intuitively, without deep technical expertise. Even novice users can create data visualizations that are meaningful, such as pie charts, line graphs, bubble charts and heat maps.

Advanced data visualizations like SAS Visual Analytics support more in-depth and complex analytics. It is a visual tier that sits on top of the analytics program and lets users view the results of complex algorithmic processing. Users not only can they get insight into what’s happened; they can forecast what might happen, using rich graphics to quickly derive business actions. And whether they work at the corporate headquarters or in the field, employees can use data visualization tools to unite around common visuals, inviting new conversations around data usage and decisions. Mobile applications for tablets increase the sharing and dissemination of data visuals among business users. Managers, account representatives and executives can all access visual reports and see key performance indicators from anywhere. Having a centralized access point for important reports and indicators minimizes the endless paper and email trails that often result in miscommunication and misinformation. SAS Visual Analytics covers successfully all the above areas being the most advanced solution in its kind, receiving accolades not only by the major international analyst firms but most importantly by the hundreds of customers already exploiting its capabilities and reporting benefits such as: Improved decision making, better ad hoc data analysis, provision of self-service capabilities to end users, time savings, improved collaboration/ information sharing, increased ROI and reduced burden on IT.

We have also to realize that there is no going back. The flow of data will not shrink in the near future; in fact, it will continue to grow exponentially. Today we can use data visualizations and the advanced analytics that support them, exactly the way SAS Visual Analytics does it, to meet these challenges head on.

What and How SAS Visual Analytics Does It

SAS Visual Analytics provides a robust set of BI capabilities and approach­able analytics, enabling different types of users to gain insights from any size of data through data visualization and exploratory analysis. SAS Visual Analytics combines powerful in-memory analytics with an extremely visual, easy-to-use explora­tion interface so that organizations can derive value from their data faster than ever before. The four significant areas where SAS Visual Analytics excels is Advanced Data Visualization, Easy Analytics, Robust Reporting & Mobile BI and all this in extremely fast manner.

SAS can do that utilizing its vast experience and expertise in Analytics, Reporting, and BI together with the advanced technology of its LASR Analytic Server where its in-memory functions and capabilities provide the extremely fast processing of any, yes any, amount of data. On top of the analytics environment sits a rich visualization platform with advanced characteristics that enables any type of user to derive value from data. The whole solution gives many options of implementation (in single-machine or in distributed environments where parallel processing can be exploited, and at in-house IT infrastructures to private, public or even SAS clouds –the latest only in US only yet), and is easily set-up and administered by the IT (where actually its load is reduced as admitted by the users in recent research).

Advanced Data Visualization

SAS Visual Analytics makes it easy to find the most relevant data and apply advanced analytics to unlock their secrets.  A major differentiation of SAS Visual Analytics is that users can interactively explore all relevant data – no subsetting or sampling required and while someone could expect this will take hours or even days it actually happens in minutes or even seconds because the data is quickly read into memory. The visual data exploration tools of SAS Visual Analytics include:

  • A Web-based, interactive data exploration mode for all types of users.
  • The autocharting capability that helps determine the chart best suited to display data, based on items selected for analysis
  • Geographical map views that provide a quick understanding of geospatial data.
  • “What does it mean” capabilities to identify and explain the relationships between variables.
  • Exploration capabilities that are provided for in-memory server data sources.
  • Graphical skins can be applied for 3-D appearance and light effects on visuals.
  • Compelling visuals include box plots, heat maps, bubble charts and more.
  • The toggle feature that displays grid lines and lets users adjust axes to optimize viewing.
  • Queries that can be changed by selecting items to be displayed from a sidebar or by dynamically filtering and grouping.
  • A resizable overview bar that lets users visually subset a portion of data sets with many records (high cardinality).
  • Viewable descriptive statistics, such as min, max and mean that enable users to gain an overall sense of a particular measure.

Easy Analytics

Analytics is essential for making sense out of data that help forecasting and decision making and with SAS Visual Analytics, everyone can use self-service approachable and sophisticated analytics, because the analytics are fully integrated in an easy-to-use Web-based environment. The analytics capabilities of SAS Visual Analytics include functions to query data from a seamless set of viewing modes, to slice and dice multidimensional data, to drill up and down through hierarchies, to view descriptive statistics, such as min, max and mean, to calculate new measures to generate forecasts, to use new scenarios analysis capabilities, to remove complexity of data structures and to share all these in the enterprise.

Robust Reporting

With SAS Visual Analytics users can create meaningful ad hoc reports and decision makers can view and interact with the reports whenever and wherever they needed to. Truly interactive reports, graphs, KPIs and other report objects can be enhanced on-the-fly through filtering and drill-down capabilities while empowering colleagues and others to interact with them to answer their own questions and create new visualizations betters collaboration and that brings better decision making. The reporting characterises of SAS Visual Analytics include a Web-based, interactive report-building interface a data acquisition wizard, precision layout capabilities, on-the-fly hierarchy creation, the ability to select predefined filters, set groupings and sorting, new customizable graph templates, a variety of charts like bar/3-D bar with multiple lines, pie/3-D pie, line, scatter, heat map, bubble, and tile and easy-to-integrate common action elements such as radio buttons, drop-down/combination boxes, check boxes and sliders. For report viewing a web-based, interactive report viewing interface is provided viewing is available on iPad and Android devices.  Reports can be previewed as they will display on mobile devices before they are published while drag-and-drop functionality enables objects to be resized on the screen. Finally reports can be printed as PDFs or PNGs.

Mobile BI

Mobile business intelligence means that decision makers at every level can see and interact with critical information and decision-making data – anytime, anywhere – on iPad or Android tablets.

The native iPad and Android support uses popular gestures and capabilities (zoom, swipe, etc.) while flexible layouts let users create content tailored to different needs, link indicators enable data brushing as defined while creating reports etc. The reports can be viewed securely on mobile devices either online or offline and comments can be added to reports for better collaboration. Report links with comments can be emailed to others, Screenshots can be captured and comments shared with others and alerts are provided to mobile devices when reports are updated.


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