Twelve questions to ask your data visualization software vendor

Don’t ignore these strategic visual analytics concepts

By Sanjeev Aggarwal and Laurie McCabe, SMB Group
 

Data is the new business capital. But just like financial capital, you must invest wisely to reap value. As data volumes and density grow, it can be difficult for decision-makers to view, explore and act on information.

Thankfully, a new generation of self-service data visualization solutions promises change. With modern tools, people can explore data through different lenses to get fresh perspectives for problem solving and decision-making, isolate and resolve problems, and evaluate how different variables will affect decision-making outcomes.

Be careful, though. There’s a lot of buzz around big data, analytics and visualization that can potentially distract you from your initial objectives. You can stay on track by keeping the end goal clearly in mind: gaining the capability to answer your business-critical questions.

These questions will help you conduct a comprehensive evaluation to identify which vendor’s applications, support models, deployment options and technology platforms align with the goals of your data visualization projects.

What’s your data visualization software strategy?

Defining and documenting a data visualization strategy is the first step on the road to information insights. The next step is selecting the right vendor to help you achieve that strategy. Don’t make a quick “strategic” decision to use a glitzy vendor and hope it will solve your problems.

As you begin to carefully evaluate your data visualization options, ask your vendors questions from this list to make sure you select the right data visualization software and the right partner for your data visualization strategy.

  1. What is your track record in the business intelligence and analytics area?
  2. What analytics and data management capabilities do you offer beyond data visualization?
  3. Can you accommodate our changing needs as they evolve (e.g., deeper statistical analysis)?
  4. Does you have experience providing solutions in our industry?
  5. Can you provide relevant customer references?
  6. Does your product roadmap dovetail with our future needs?
  7. Do you offer a choice of deployment models? Can we switch between deployment models as our company and analytics needs change?
  8. How simple and flexible are your licensing options? Do you provide both desktop and server licenses?
  9. How does the licensing and pricing change between named-user and server licenses?
  10. Do you provide 24x7support and dedicated account management support?
  11. What training is included in the initial deployment? What fee-based training is available, and what are the costs?
  12. How much training do organizations with needs similar typically require before they become productive?

Several vendors offer capable data visualization solutions, and these questions will help you conduct a comprehensive evaluation to identify which vendor’s applications, support models, deployment options and technology platforms align with the goals of your data visualization projects.

Keep in mind that “softer” capabilities are just as important. Is the vendor and/or its partners responsive to your needs during the sales process? Can they easily connect you with satisfied customers for references?

Data visualization can benefit companies of all sizes, regardless of where they are on their analytics journey. If you’re ready to move from spreadsheets to more sophisticated analytics solutions, we hope this article helps you in the next phase of your analytics journey.


This article is excerpted from the SMB Group research report, "Data Visualization: Charting the Best Course for your Organization."

 

 

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