I recently came across an interesting blog post by Curt Monash entitled “Visualization or Navigation.” In this post Curt proposes that ‘navigation’ is more important than visualization, and that this capability is a product of the platform technology that underlies a BI product. A quote from the article..
“It might seem that a lot of the action in business intelligence revolves around ever-better visualization… But I don’t think that’s exactly right — rather, I see navigation as being a much bigger deal. And unlike most pure visualization, navigation usually depends strongly on underlying platform capabilities.”
We at Qlik couldn’t agree more. That’s not to say data visualization isn’t important. In fact, we have invested heavily in our visualization capabilities in QlikView.Next. It’s just that visualization is only one piece of a broader set of capabilities that enable discovery and insight.
What Curt calls navigation we tend to think of as interactivity. This means giving the user a natural and effective way to go beyond the information they are offered in the initial set of charts and graphs. No matter how good a visualization is, it can’t possibly tell the entire story. And furthermore, a good visualization will prompt more questions than it will answer. That’s why we see visualization as a starting point, not the whole picture.
Another recent trend has been around the concept of data storytelling. Several vendors including ourselves are moving in this direction. We see data storytelling as a way to collaborate and persuade with visuals and narrative presented in a manner that articulates insights and opinions.
Again, interactivity is a key ingredient. It’s not enough to publish static data stories that are still a form of one-way communication. There is a need for interactivity and discovery even when telling stories. The experience should be a dialog, not a monologue. Data stories should allow for a user to seamlessly move between live, interactive analysis and presentation of pre-determined insights.
In the end, it all goes back to the strength of the platform. Interactivity is only possible when the underlying technology supports it in a powerful and unique way. QlikView’s Natural Analytics@ technology drives an interactive experience that is hard to match.