We all have a thirst for knowledge and knowing. Searching for interesting or necessary information is a big part of our daily lives, and we do it both at work and at home. Once we find that elusive article, book or link, the next step is finding exactly what you want from it. On the simplest level, this might just be a case of looking for a good quote and incorporating it into a report, or finding a story and sharing it with friends or colleagues.
It could, however, involve something more substantial - such as looking at data. Playing an increasingly important role in the modern workplace, data is key for analysts, CEOs, CIOs and decision makers within an organization. As their understanding has grown that data can really help make informed business decisions and unearth new findings, the popularity and use of a new breed of business intelligence and data visualization tools has risen considerably.
Gartner describes Business Intelligence (BI) as infrastructure and tools “that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance”. These tools are providing businesses with previously unattainable insights, while at the same time showcasing findings in a much clearer, more concise and informative way. What’s not to love?
If you’re new to the world of BI and data visualization, or are looking for some additional reading, we’ve done the hard work for you and found 7 BI and data visualizations blogs we think are worth your time.
1. The Forrester Research blog
Forrester Research is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) market research company in the US. The company works with businesses and tech leaders to “develop customer-obsessed strategies that drive growth”. They do this in a number of ways, but notably with their blog where they share findings and offer best practices.
Their business intelligence blog offers ‘actionable guidance’ with posts such as ‘Build an Agile BI Organization’ and ‘Customer Insights and Big Data Analytics will sprawl in 2015’. This blog is a must for anyone with an interest in BI and data, with an authoritative view based on extensive research and honest approach to what’s hot and what’s not, you’d be hard pushed to find a better place for such a holistic view of the market.
2. Smart Data Collective
Not a blog in the traditional sense, the SmartDataCollective site’s sole purpose is to be ‘the web’s best commentary & analysis on big data, BI and analytics’. The site is updated every day with new posts related to all things data, be it high level advice and guidance or a look at the recent trends such as political elections and the Internet of Things.
3. Perceptual Edge
“We are overwhelmed by information, not because there is too much, but because we don't know how to tame it”. These are the thoughts of Perceptual Edge owner and blogger Stephen Few. Run by a team of three, the blog ties together the thoughts of Stephen and his two colleagues, Nick Desbarats and Brian Pierce. There’s less emphasis on data visualization examples, and more on reactions to the latest news in business intelligence and company updates. The blog team has more than 40 years of data experience behind it, so offers an authoritative perspective on all things statistics.
4. Information is beautiful
Information is Beautiful is the creation of London (UK) based author and writer David McCandless. David shares his obvious love of data by providing some great tips and tricks on how to create good visualizations. Updated regularly, posts are vibrant, informative, interactive and fun and showcase all the good things that can be created by looking at information in a different light.
5. Power BI
Power BI is Microsoft's offering to the data visualization market and it’s pretty cool. Available both as a standalone product and within the Office 365 subscription, it aims to ‘bring your data to life’ by turning company information into a rich visual picture. Power BI achieves this by displaying your information in a neat dashboard which can be personalized, edited and shared with colleagues.
The Power BI blog is a fantastic source for anyone using the tool. Posts are released regularly and cover a huge number of topics from new updates, how-to sessions with Microsoft experts and specific use cases - such as ‘Gain understanding & insights into projects in Visual Studio Online with Power BI’ - the blog is perfect for staying informed and learning more. And as a Microsoft product you can also be sure that it’ll deliver some quality posts.
Tableau is one of the big players in the data visualization world and has a vibrant community of users and some heavy hitting customers. Since it was founded in 2003 the company has enjoyed a successful rise and is very well known as a product that creates some really beautiful and interactive visualizations - known as ‘Vizzes’ in the Tableau community.
The company's blog has a wide variety of posts to help you keep up to date. Their blogs are divided into three categories: ‘Keep Me in The Loop’, ‘Make Me Smarter’ and ‘Entertain Me’ and combine Tableau news and views, tips, tricks and training, as well as ‘viz’ for laughs. So as well as finding blogs that will help with your BI needs you’ll also find some interesting takes on the world of sport, music and media. Well worth a look.
7. Visualizing data
Unlike the previous two examples, the Visualizing Datablog is not product specific and more an all-encompassing hub of BI information from various sources. No matter the software or tool, you can find cool examples, news and announcements from the data visualization world all brought together in one place. Add to that a regular monthly roundup series provided by the host, you can see the best the web has to offer with no bias or preference.
We hope you find these 7 BI and data visualizations blogs interesting, informative and fun. If you think we’ve missed a great one we’d love to hear your comments below.