"Faster, smarter, better", la data pour mieux agir

La décision et l’action sont directement challengées par une nécessité absolue : être rapide. Le monde n’attend pas et chaque seconde compte. Dans le business comme dans la relation aux autres, il faut agir et prendre des décisions rapidement pour réussir. La data est au coeur de cette foudroyance. Elle aussi déverse avec une vélocité sans pareil, rendant la prise de décision plus complexe pour les entreprises.

Il nous faut être plus rapide mais aussi plus malin et plus efficace, c’est une question de survie.

Faster Le débit de la fontaine des données augmente inlassablement. S’équiper des solutions qui permettent de capter efficacement les données et de maîtriser leur flux est une nécessité. A la fois pour pouvoir analyser en temps réel ces données mais aussi pour les rendre décisionnelles. La question est de donner un sens, celui de l’action. La data devient alors un réel atout permettant d’agir plus rapidement tout simplement parce qu’elle est mieux appréhendée.

Smarter Comprendre les données dans ce qu’elles ont d’essentiel sur la représentation de la vie d’une entreprise est capital. Elles doivent pouvoir parler à chacun, sans silos, au sein des organisations. L’idée est de donner à tous cette compréhension intelligente de la réalité économique et relationnelle de l’entreprise. En rendant accessible à chacun cette intelligence, les données et leur représentation dans des dashboards simples et efficaces mettent l’entreprise en tension positive et agile.

Better Le mieux sert l’efficacité, en étant plus rapide et plus malin, nous avançons dans le sens de l’histoire des organisations. Nous sommes mobiles et travaillons en réseau, nous devons être agiles et pro-actifs. Un pilotage de l’entreprise avec les indicateurs qui reflètent cette réalité est essentiel. Lui seul donne une réelle évaluation des actions et de leurs impacts, lui seul permet d’anticiper donc de toujours progresser.

La proposition de valeur de Captain Dash, c’est tout ça et bien plus encore, alors contactez-nous !

"La nécessité pour les CEO et leurs équipes d'implémenter une feuille de route qui permette d’anticiper les besoins de leurs clients ou de proposer de nouveaux services est essentielle. Ils ne peuvent plus, au nom du risque que celle-ci représente, ralentir, invoquer une stratégie à deux vitesses ou suivre une “me too strategy”. La data et son dashboard transverse répondent à ce besoin, ils sont l’antidote du statut quo et du travail en silos. Rapidité, expérience client, pertinence, croissance et nouveaux clients, tout cela est intimement lié. Vous pouvez ouvrir un compte bancaire en 8 minutes avec Number26 ou réserver un appartement en 5 minutes avec Airbnb. Alors pourquoi lorsque vous entrez dans une agence bancaire, il vous est demandé ce que vous voulez ou lorsque vous vous retrouvez à la réception d’un hôtel de votre chaîne préférée vous êtes, encore, obligé de répéter vos choix ? Les systèmes d’information transactionnels (legacy) n’ont pas été construits pour répondre à ce besoin d’agilité et de rapidité, laissez-les là où ils sont avec leurs gardiens ! Construisez autour d’eux des équipes data transverses, ce sont elles, qui, grâce à une architecture de microservices, permettront de récupérer les données (y compris stockées au fond d’un système transactionnel en AS400) mélangées avec d’autres provenant de l’espace client du site internet ou des réseaux sociaux. Aujourd’hui ce n’est pas Watson dont vous avez besoin, mais simplement d’un dashboard avec la data qui vous permet d’accélérer."

En savoir plus sur Captain Dash, suivez-nous sur Twitter ou abonnez-vous à notre blog.

De : Bertrand Verret, Leader des ventes et du revenu au sein de Captain Dash

Faster, smarter, better: data for decisions and actions 

Decisions and actions are directly challenged by an absolute need: speed. Our world does not wait and every second counts. In the business world or in our everyday life with others, we need to act and make quick decisions in order to succeed. Data is in the heart of this phenomenon. It has a speed with no equals, which makes the decision making process more complex for companies.

We need to be faster but also smarter and more efficient, it’s a matter of survival.

Faster The data flow is constantly increasing. It is now a necessity to equip ourselves with solutions that are able to capture and master this data flow. This will help to analyze data in real time and make decisions based on this data. The goal is to make sense of this data, which is translated by taking actions. Data becomes then a real asset devoted to act faster simply because it is actually understood.

Smarter Understanding data and its essential role in a company’s life is key. It needs to be clear, with no silos and this, throughout the entire organization. The idea here is to make data available to everyone by giving them a smart understanding of the economic and general life of the company. By making it available to all, data with simple and efficient dashboards is putting the company under a positive and agile tension.

Better Being better serves efficiency and by being faster and smarter our organizations are on the best path to grow. Today, we constantly work on the move and in networks, that is why we need to be agile and pro-active. Steering our companies with the right KPIs is essential. KPIs give a true evaluation of actions and their impacts serving anticipation and progress.

Captain Dash’s value proposition is that and much more, so contact us now!

"The necessity for CEOs and their teams to implement a roadmap to anticipate their customers’ needs and to offer new services is essential. They no longer can slow down or have a “me too” strategy because of the risk it represents. Data and its transversal dashboard feed this need, they are the antidote for status quo and working in silos. Speed, customer experience, relevancy, growth, new customers… They all are linked to each other. You can open a bank account in 8 minutes with Number26 or book a place in 5 minutes with Airbnb. So why are you still being asked for your needs when you enter your bank or for your preferences at your favorite hotel? Legacy information systems were not designed to answer high-speed and agility needs, that is why you should leave them where they are but build around them with transverse data teams. They are the ones who, with a microservices architecture, will capture the data on legacy systems mixed with data from other sources - from customer accounts to social networks.  You don’t need another Watson but a simple dashboard with data that allows you to grow rapidly and efficiently."

Stay updated and learn more on Captain Dash, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our blog.

Written by: Bertrand Verret, Chief Revenue Officer at Captain Dash

Why Startups Need Dashboards

When one hears ‘business dashboard’, one thinks of executives and decision makers from big fortune 500 companies, banks, consulting firms and startups! Wait, startups? Yes, I did say startups.

Captain Dash is a startup and to top that we are a startup, which creates dashboards focused towards operational excellence. It seems rather obvious that we would use dashboards within the company.

Today, I would like to explain why we feel that dashboards are important for all startups and not just us.

Startups operate in a very dynamic environment and they usually rely on the data they produce to help them stay on course as they navigate through clients, legal issues, innovation and investors, among other things.

Relying on data is one thing but just because we are a startup it doesn’t mean we should not have solid metrics that we turn towards on a regular basis. Dashboards help us track our activity as linked to our goals – short and long term. We depend on them, we hold ourselves responsible by them and they motivate us.

A startup’s resources, both human and non-human, are often meagre and very precious. These resources need to be aligned along the correct axes and that is where dashboards come in.

Our dashboards help us figure out what to focus on to attain operational excellence. Where to put in our sales efforts, how our marketing efforts are performing, in which direction does the development team need to go and where do we stand with regards to our goals.

A startup goes through various phases of growth initially and unlike bigger, well-established companies the main thing to keep in mind is that objectives will change with time and all the metrics need to be decided within that context. These metrics may take some time to determine and need to be reviewed regularly.

For example, in the beginning the goal is to create a product that brings value to the client. All metrics need to be chosen with this goal in mind. But once the product has been created and released some of those metrics need to be reviewed in order to cater to the new goal of getting clients. I say some, because the product cannot be put in the back seat and needs to keep evolving with clients’ needs.

Another area dashboards help us with is investors.

As a startup chances are good that you need funding and you need to woo investors. You have the projected revenue curve going up like a check mark with your business plan. But, investors look at many other factors like risk, market, expenditures, etc. A dashboard that measures all these factors with open data and your own data can serve as a much better personal indicator for you to make sure that you understand fully where your company stands. You can work towards reducing risks and creating a better positioning.

From one startup to another we would love to hear if you use dashboards and why or why not.

Written By: Meghna Verma

F**K You Algorithm!

Does your company director doubt your strategy? Explain to him that it was created by a MIT issued big data crunching algorithm. Do you wish to boost the value of your startup? Make them believe that an algorithm developed by Russian mathematicians pilots it.  Do you want to hook-up with your neighbor? Tell them that you are a data scientist working on the optimization of the tinder algorithm. The algorithm has become the ultimate in trendiness. It has positioned itself on the horizon as an indispensible. Tomorrow a machine will probably replace the strategic planner, a task-scheduling algorithm the project manager…with the coming of the Chinese we were stripped of industrial jobs, now the algorithm is here, lurking silently in the shadows. The colonization of marketing by algorithm seems inevitable.

Prepare yourself comrade; the algorithm wants to steal your job!

This is not only a pessimist and naïve vision of the future but an absolute misunderstanding of what IT is in general and what is an algorithm in particular.

Just like the case between the Chinese worker and the European worker who fought for the same task; the human and the algorithm, when coupled with the computer, are not in competition with each other. They do not have the same needs or the same capabilities.

A computer is numeric where as a brain is analogic. The computer is binary; it emits signals in zeros and ones. On the other hand our neurons emit signals in a great variety of models. The algorithm “is a finite and unambiguous result of operations or instructions to solve a problem” where as the human knows his way around irrational ground.

A computer would be very efficient at executing repetitive procedures or at performing automatic calculations but completely incompetent at understanding emotions or at managing illogical situations. A human on the other hand performs poorly at indefinite repetitions, calculations, or storing information but can rapidly comprehend concepts, analyze sentiments and take decisions based on heterogeneous information.

You have a doubt about that?

Take a pretty basic computer and command it to play a game. A game that requires the computer to calculate the best way to move pieces across a board with very clearly defined rules and absolutely no value given to an emotional computation.

And you will see that the computer will very easily and without using much of its capacity, be able to beat Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess grand master of all time.

Now, demand Google to identify an image. It is something that Google tried in 2012. The team connected 1000 servers with a combined capacity of 16,000 processors. For two days the system went through close to 10 million videos on YouTube. At the end of this experiment Google triumphantly announced that it could recognize a cat 75% of the times!

Put another way, a computer works wonders at beating Garry Kasparov at chess but while utilizing all its capacity it performs lower than a 3 year old in recognizing a cat.

Would you entrust your marketing plans to an autistic capable of beating a grand master at chess but incapable of recognizing a cat? This is exactly what zealots of the method-applied algorithm for seeking insights are about to do! If Google can hardly recognize a cat can you imagine it being able to comprehend the complexity that brand preference is based on and be able to make creative leaps?

The thing that the zealots of algorithm are not able to comprehend is that marketing is different from logistics. Marketing is not a cold science. The aim is not to optimize the transportation of an object but to interact with and engage in a relationship with humans.

The consumers, unlike a machine, are ambiguous and complex. They have sentiments that compel them to love or to hate a brand in an irrational way. And it is this precise capability to manage emotions, to transcend the usage value of a product, to generate an additional value that makes the brain superior to machines.

The reality is, that the world of marketing will not be dominated by an algorithm but by the complementarity of the human-machine pairing. We will delegate to the machine that what it does better that us: track, without bias, the data and perform simple automated tasks.

The algorithm fabricates beautiful dashboards for us to understand where the brand stands, how to set the best possible price that is acceptable for the consumer or for that matter how to create an efficient media mix. The human conceives the products and the campaigns; he creates the unbelievable user experiences. It’s the humans’ brain that flows with ideas that define the brand universe. It’s them who subjectively arbitrate effective actions.

The human, certainly better equipped, remains the master.

 

Written By: Bruno Walther for L'ADN January - March 2015 Issue Bruno Walther is the CEO & Co-Founder at Captain Dash.  You can reach him on Twitter @brunowalther .

 

Algorithme Ta Mère !

Votre directeur doute de votre stratégie ? Expliquez-lui qu'elle est construite à partir d'un algorithme issu du MIT qui crunche de "big data". Vous souhaitez booster la valorisation de votre start-up ? Faites croire qu'elle est pilotée par un algorithme développé par des mathématiciens russes. Vous voulez brancher votre voisine de bar ? Dites-lui que vous êtes un data scientist qui travaille à l'optimisation de l'algo de Tinder. L'algorithme est devenu l'optimum de la branchitude. Il s'impose comme un horizon indépassable. Dès demain, le planneur stratégique sera remplacé par du machine learning. Le chef de projet par un algorithme de planication des tâches...Après les chinois venus nous dépouiller des emplois industriels, les algos sont là, tapis dans l'ombre. La colonisation du marketing par les algorithmes semble inévitable.

Gare à toi camarade, l'algo veut te piquer ton emploi !

C'est non seulement une vision pessimiste et naïve du futur. Mais surtout une mécompréhension absolue de ce qu’est l’informatique en général et l’algorithmie en particulier.

A la différence d'un travailleur chinois et d'un travailleur européen qui combattent pour la même tâche, l'humain et l'algorithme couplés à un ordinateur ne sont pas en compétition. Ils n'ont ni les mêmes besoins, ni les mêmes capacités.

Un ordinateur est numérique quand un cerveau est analogique. L'ordinateur est binaire, il émet des zéros et des uns, quand nos neurones émettent des signaux avec une très grande variété de modèles. L’algorithme "n'est qu'une suite finie et non ambiguë d'opérations ou d'instructions permettant de résoudre un problème" quand l'Humain sait traiter des taches irrationnelles.

Un ordinateur sera très fort pour exécuter des procédés répétitifs et automatiser des calculs. Mais totalement incompétent pour comprendre une émotion et gérer une situation où il doit gérer des facteurs non logiques. Un humain lui sera très faible pour répéter infiniment des taches, effectuer des calculs et stocker de l'information mais saura rapidement comprendre des concepts, analyser des sentiments et prendre des décisions à partir d'informations hétérogènes.

Vous en doutez ?

Prenez un ordinateur assez sommaire. Demandez-lui de jouer à un jeu dont le but est de calculer les meilleurs déplacements de pièces possibles, avec des règles précises où aucune valeur émotionnelle n’entre en ligne de compte.

Et vous verrez qu'il arrivera, assez facilement et sans mobiliser trop de capacité de calcul, à battre Garry Kasparov, l'un des plus grands maîtres de tous les temps.

Maintenant demandez à Google d'identifier une image. C'est que Google tenta en 2012. Les équipes connectèrent plus de 1 000 serveurs représentant une capacité de calcul de plus 16 000 coeurs de processeurs. Pendant deux jours, le système moulina près de dix millions de videos sur youtube. Et Google annonça triomphant qu'il arrivait maintenant dans 75 % des cas à reconnaître un chat.

Dit autrement, un ordinateur bon marché peut battre Kasparov quand il s'agit de jouer aux échecs. Mais les plus grandes capacités de calculs de Google sous performent les capacités intellectuelles d'un enfant de 3 ans dès lors qu'il s'agit de reconnaître un chat.

Vous confierez votre plan marketing à un autiste capable de battre Kasparov mais incapable de reconnaître un chat ? C'est pourtant ce que s'apprêtent à faire les zélateurs de l'algorithmie appliqué à la recherche d'insights ! Dès lors que Google peine à reconnaître un chat comment voulez vous qu'il puisse demain comprendre la complexité qui fonde la préférence de marque et trouver le saut créatif.

Ce que ne veulent pas comprendre les zélateurs de l'algorithmie, c'est qu'à la différence de la logistique, le marketing n'est pas une science froide, dont l'objectif est d'optimiser le transport d'objets mais d'interagir et d'engager une relation avec des humains.

Le consommateur, à la différence d'une machine, est ambigu et complexe. Il a des sentiments qui le poussent à aimer ou détester, souvent de façon irrationnelle, une marque. Et c'est précisément cette capacité à générer de l'émotion, à transcender les valeurs d'usages du produit, à générer une plus value affective qui fonde la supériorité des neurones sur le processeur.

La réalité est que le monde du marketing ne sera pas dominé par l’algorithme mais par la complémentarité du couple homme / machine. Nous déléguerons à la machine ce pour quoi elle est plus douée que nous : tracker avec justesse les données et automatiser des actions simples.

Les algorithmes fabriqueront de jolis dashboards pour nous aider à comprendre où se trouve la marque, à fixer le prix le plus acceptable pour le consommateur ou à trouver le mix media le plus efficace. L’Humain concevra les produits et les campagnes, inventera l'expérience utilisateur la plus incroyable possible. C'est de son cerveau que jailliront les idées, que se dessineront les univers de marque. C'est lui qui arbitrera, subjectivement, les actions à prendre.

Mais l'humain, certes outillé, restera le maître.

Par : Bruno Walther pour L'ADN Janvier - Mars 2015  Bruno Walther, CEO & Co-Fondateur chez Captain Dash.  Vous pouvez le trouver sur Twitter @brunowalther .

 

Case Study - Dashboards In Banking and Insurance

An iconic example of the banking and insurance industry

 

bank case study

 

 

1. Context

Although they are very different, banking and insurance do face some similar challenges:

-       Poor client perception

-       Limited touch points with clients

-       Declining number of visitors in traditional front end agency network

If you add those issues to the business disruption caused by the digital economy, there is no need to explain the concern experienced by some of the industry’s top managers.

2. Problem

While overflowing with data, banking and insurance make very little or improper use of it.  Even when data exploitation initiatives are undertaken, they are almost always handled in silos. For example, the car insurance division of a company can set-up a promotion for its clients, without paying attention to other divisions’ actions and potential synergies. Who hasn’t ever received a promotional offer to buy financial products from his bank just after taking out a loan from the same bank?

Nevertheless, a proper and innovative use of data is an almost impossible challenge for many business unit managers. Companies are divided in many units, which makes data aggregation even more complicated since managers, who do not want to share it, hoard the data.  In order to go through the customer process, banking and insurance management needs to put together (i) websites and mobile applications (the digital business unit) (ii) social networks (the communication unit) (iii) agencies (the banking network) and (iv) product development and engineering (product business units). Anyone familiar with these organisations would agree that it is an almost insurmountable task.

 

3. Solution

A pragmatic approach is to avoid thinking about centralising data, but rather to exploit it where it is.

Step 1: Develop a cross-unit approach through dashboarding

The first step is to demonstrate how powerful it is to show simultaneous data within the customer process.

Implementing cross-unit dashboards proves to be highly relevant in doing so. It provides the opportunity for each stakeholder to visualise his data within the whole customer process, and to set common objectives, which will eventually become KPIs. The manager of the digital business unit will then be able to see clearly that he has originated quite a number of online leads, which resulted into offline purchases in an agency. This can either be measured statistically – if office visits or calls have increased after a campaign held exclusively online –or through a “how have you heard about this product” questionnaire given to the client when the first contact has been established.

The same goes for the head of social networks. Sometimes it is impossible to see a positive buzz by looking at the figures. The ability to visualise the value added through an appropriate dashboard can very easily highlight existing correlations, even with a time lag.

Conversely, offline campaigns encouraging people to come and visit the agency can increase online sales. But at the end it is only the central Head of Digital Ops who really has access to all the data and can notice the real business drivers instead of the local business manager who actually has a direct interest in said data.

Thus, dashboards can help to quickly develop a very consistent horizontal culture within organisations where all concerned parties have access to on time information.

Step 2: Develop a culture of KPIs

KPIs do not have to be a list of overwhelming and cumbersome numbers measuring every possible object that can be measured. Nor should they be completely absent from your repertoire of tools. The idea is to analyse your needs and your measurables and create KPIs that are specifically suited to your business, company and position.

Many of Captain Dash customers are also developing a culture of KPIs:

-       Major KPIs are shared within the whole company

-       Sub-KPIs can be specifically determined within the teams

Step 3: Centralise data

Still, the issue of centralised data remains unsolved.

How can it be tackled?

DON’T: try to change the information system itself.

There is no point in trying to homogenise the data because it all comes from different worlds:

-       from the cloud (Facebook, twitter, etc.)

-       from traditional IS such as ERP systems

-       from web analytics such as Omniture or Google Analytics

DO: create data connectors, which enable you to automatically and regularly extract the data. Of course, the third-party operator must meet all safety requirements for data encryption and user agreement in order to implement a peaceful use of data. But once these conditions are met, it is usually easy to set up.

Captain Dash for example, has developed both processes and technologies to fit all types of ERP, information systems and files. As of now, we have never had a problem with data resisting this process.

 

Your Business is Suffering Because You're Missing Out on Books

Starting, maintaining, and managing a business is a difficult task. In most cases, you get out of it what you put into it. If you commit to every step of the process with a thoughtful and thorough mindset, your result will typically reflect it. If you start your business sloppily with a slacker mentality, you will either fail immediately or run into significant problems as a result of your negligence. We all know this. It’s logic and common sense. So why do people still not realize that to go a step above and beyond the “average” they have to resort to alternative means? Way back when, it was entirely commonplace to do research and self-educate through books. However, now in the age of the digital revolution people resort to scrolling through Internet articles and screening headlines as “research.” In ideal circumstances the Internet is a SUPPLEMENT to research, not a SUBSTITUTE.

The Internet is Available to Everyone

Your business is built on competition. You’re competing with your neighbor for market share and you’re competing against the clock to stay above water long enough to reap the rewards of your business. If you’re only reading what is publicly available to you (typically mainstream articles or well-known blogs) then chances are your competition is reading the same material. You can bet that your competition won’t be scouring the bookshelves for reading material. Reading something new and different can help you gain a different perspective which will translate into a competitive edge in the market.

Books are More Substantial

Many companies that crank out blog posts put little effort into the material they publish. They’re more interested in establishing contact with their community through a shocking headline and amassing page views than actually educating their audience. The business of a book, on the other hand, is primarily to educate. Writing a blog post is a minor commitment, but writing a book takes years of research and usually consists of a very carefully constructed and well-supported argument. A book will go into much greater detail and back up its argument with case studies and historical points…which is much more beneficial to you and your knowledge base.

Attention Span Improvement

Internet articles are designed to be skimmed through. A typical day spent skimming through Google Alerts will deliver to you recycled, redundant and often obvious information. Articles are designed around headlines, key points and lists such as The 8 Ways to Improve X. You quickly scan over the key points of the article then boom! Onto the next one. Reading an academic book will reteach you how to process, think about, and digest information in a way that helps you learn and grow along with your mental bank of facts.

You need to spend money to make money. So go spend that $30 and hit the stacks!

Don't know where to start? Check out 7 great books about data visualization here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/06/30/best-books-data-visualization-computational-art/

Say Goodbye to Excel Spreadsheets

analyticsIBM First came computers, then cell phones followed, then faster computers, then smartphones (I actually don't know if this is a factual timeline) then online shopping became mainstream, then even your dad bought a tablet, then "big data" was everywhere. So what is the state of the technological universe now?

As we all know, data is raw value. The big data wave has been riding on the crest of the digital transformation for a while now as companies are realizing that their data (and propensity for collecting it) is a treasure trove of untapped value, capable of revealing insights into their customers, behaviors, and strategy effectiveness.

So what's the best way to squeeze power out of your data like lemon juice? The keys here are efficiency, facility, and power…and the answer, my friends, are dashboards!

 

1. Visualizations are the way to go.

Visualizations are bright, splashy, exciting and sexy. But that's not just why we love them. Science has proven that visualizing information helps with cognitive processing, especially when your data and metrics are displayed in a form that makes sense. A mastery of design, a strong knowledge of aesthetic principles (and how they correlate to cognitive processing), and technical expertise can turn a simple chart into an intuitive, manipulable visualization interface. To see some prime examples, check out our Visualization Lair: http://visualizationlair.captaindash.com

2. Managing the three Vs of data

Basically everything about data is big. As the 3 V's go - volume, variety and velocity - there's a lot of it, there are a lot of different kinds, and it gets generated fast. Imagine 100 pages worth of spreadsheets. A dashboard can consolidate and arrange these in a sleek form, on a single screen, side by side to make something super complicated really simple.

3. Going mobile

Everyone uses a tablet these days. They're portable, they're tactile, and they're home to all of your apps. So why have a dashboard on a tablet? You can touch it, pull around your data, and manipulate your visualizations to reveal new insight.

Imagine commanding a meeting from your iPad and showcasing your company's data with the tap of a finger…now that's cool.

4. Single View

A dashboard, by definition, offers a single view of your company's activities. The single view may show different categories of your company: general health, social, KRIs, etc. For example, Captain Dash offers a primary single view with the option to "open" different tiles that will then reveal further information into each "category."

Looking at all information on a single screen helps you mentally grasp pieces of information and understand how they fit together to form a "big picture." The option to delve further into different categories helps us mentally compartmentalize the different departmental activities and accept new knowledge.

5. Customizable

No two companies are the same and their dashboards shouldn't be either. Depending on the industry, the company's goals, the financial situation, and the customer base, a company may have a variety of KRIs that are vital to their well-being. As we already stated, a dashboard is really only a "single-view" screen (with the potential to scroll or expand on certain categories, of course) and so the real-estate on that screen is highly valuable. The information displayed on the screen must be extremely relevant - if a KPI or KRI won't influence the viewer to make a decision or instigate some change, then it probably doesn't belong on the dashboard.

 

A CMO receives about 50+ reports PER WEEK! The next time you sit down at your desk with yet another report in hand, remember that there is a way out…a sleek, sexy, single-screen dashboard.

 

Data-Fully Yours,

The Captain

 

 

An Ode to Sexy Data

Spock
Here at Captain Dash we believe that data can be sexy if you kill the columns and the rows.
So what is sexy? 
Sexy doesn't need to be mysterious or overly complicated. It doesn't try so hard as that...
Sexy is persuasive in its simplicity, powerful in its purity, compelling in its veracity.
We pull your data from its various vaults, lift it from obscurity and let constraints fall away.
We design it and shape the variety into a single form that harmonizes with perception and understanding.
We make it tactile, malleable and flexible, interactive and reactive, changing shape and form with the fluidity of your business.
We weave it into visualizations to reflect your story, intertwining insight in the curve of a line and revealing patterns in the dip of a bar.
We marry creativity and mathematics into the precision art of data science, but above all, we make data exploration feel like a privilege, not a chore.

Child Coders - The New Frontier?

maxresdefault With 75% of children under the age of 8 having access to a smartphone or tablet at home, it would appear that this new generation has their devices as extensions of their limbs. Already many children wield power over their computers with greater dexterity than their parents. And in a tech-dominated world where software and tech services dominate and drive the workplace and nearly every industry, the future demands that children learn not only to be comfortable with technology but also how to manipulate, control, and build it.

Some staggering facts present a somewhat skewed view of our worlds' young people. Certain primary schools are requiring that students bring personal laptops to school, and yet others are teaching children how to code in between recesses. Does this sound crazy? Yeah, for now it does sound a little insane…but soon it won't. Child coders used to be a rare brand of prodigy, but now they seem to be more mainstream than ever before. Check out these examples of young people who were coding and building apps before their skull plates had fused.

Spencer Constanzoa 19 year old entrepreneur founded Malibu apps when he was in 11th grade as a scheme to avoid going to college. He was inspired by Angry Birds and saw how relatively simple concepts for games and applications could become wildly successful in the online marketplace. He decided to found his own app game design company convince to his parents that he didn't need to go to college. Now he's a top 1% iOS developer and invests in and advises 8 other similar mobile app companies.

Ethan Duggana 12 year old learned how to code online in 4 months on Codecademy. His Dad, a software engineer, along with several of his coworkers at Vegas Tech mentored Ethan and helped him learn CSS. So far he's created 2 apps and is working on a 3rd, a "fact-proving" application that allows the user to create fake wikipedia articles to "prove" fictitious information.

Thomas Suarez, a 12 year old who has already founded a company and has 2 published apps under his belt. Last year he was a speaker at the TED conference where he discussed the issue of lack of support and resources for children who want to build apps. He's already founded an app-building club at his school for both students and teachers interested in app-building.

Owen Voorhees, a self-taught 11 year old who learned how to code from college textbooks. He created Math Time, an interactive math flashcard app that rose to #13 in the top paid education apps. His father says that he had no involvement in his son's activities beyond helping him open up an iTunes account.

 

Is there something in the water? What causes a child to abandon finger-painting in favor of lines of code?

Is it simply heightened intelligence, ability, and motivation that manifest themselves through the children's advanced technological capabilities? In the "old days," children who stood out from their class as especially good at math were regarded as "geniuses." Is technology and app building simply our modern equivalent of a channel through which their intelligence presents itself?

Is it cultural influences or a shifting of norms? The prominent San Francisco bachelor scene is dominated by kids that would, in a previous generation, be regarded as "nerdy." Now these former coders who spent years locked up in their UC Berkeley dorm rooms are the 25 year old CEOs of major tech companies. Basically "nerdy" is the new cool. Thomas Suarez (12 year old wonder kid) has cited Steve Jobs as his inspiration, and other young people are heavily influenced by the media's portrayal of tech "celebrities." 25 years ago, Julian Assange would have been a weirdo behind his computer screen. Now he's a portrayed as a modern-day badass Robin Hood.

Is it parents? More companies than ever before are tech-dominated, so if a child grows up with a parent who is a software engineer, they'll likely be exposed more to the culture and buzzwords of their parent's professional industry. Kids used to play catch with their fathers or bond over a love of baseball…is a common new bonding activity modifying the code of their favorite app?

Personally I think it's just the future. Kids used to do anything for a buck- wash their mom's car, mow the lawn, etc.  Now they can churn out an app on the app store, charge .99 cents for each download, and possibly earn 25 - 100 dollars per application.

That's not to say that kids like Ethan Duggan and Spencer Costanzo are becoming the norm. Continuing education, parental support, and availability of resources (online resources like Codecademy for example), low barriers to entry (the relative ease and low cost of publishing an app on the app store)  paired with a  straightforward path to success once an app has been published will certainly push kids away from the TV and toward programming.

 

TGIF,

The Captain

 

 

Back From Easter

easter_infographic  

Captain Dash is back from Easter! Spring is in the air here in Paris as we all nurse our sugar hangovers after a weekend of sugar binging. In celebration of a holiday passed --and many more to come in May and June -- let's see what the data universe has to say about our favorite April chocolate fest!

Announcement

Three years ago, we dreamed up a superhero and with him we designed his universe. On April 10th 2013, Captain Dash hit the iPad. It quickly rose to become one of the top-rated business apps in the App store, and within months we were named the People's Choice startup and  Most Promising Startup in Europe. We created our website as his universe, where his personality and attitude were brought to life through beautiful design and bright, splashy graphics. It won Website of the Year 2013.

One year later much has changed. The digital world is becoming too imbued with buzzwords, infographics, exaggerated design and superfluous features. Visuals, sparkles, animation and color do not put a cape on a superhero. Efficacy and performance are the true superpowers.

We are killing our website.

We think it's time to bring it back to basics. Our product finds its elegance in its power, functionality,  and utility. Our new website will be bare, minimalist, content-focused and product-centric.  This is our contribution to what is pure design today.

To bring superpowers to you, we have to bring the focus back to the product.  From now on, the Captain speaks for himself. If you want a peek into his universe, you'll have to give him a call.

Hackweek 2014: The Secret Files

IMG_20140120_171124 So I know that you’ve been just starved for some Captain Dash news lately.

While you’ve been wondering about us, we’ve been thinking only of you. We want to thank you for your patience with us while we revamp the application, and we assure you that we’ve been busy little bees over here in Paris, working away to make sure that the new version of the Captain Dash application blows your mind.

What We've Been Up To...

Just a few weeks ago, the Captain Dash Paris team flew to the Captain Dash Tunis headquarters for a week of hardcore hacking.

On Monday morning, teams assembled.  Morale was high, caffeine levels through the roof, and the tension was palpable. Each team chose an open-source project to contribute to or decided to embark on an entirely novel venture with but a mere 110 hours on the clock to out-cool each other.

The teams worked incessantly, day and night, only ceasing to knock back espresso shots with quivering hands or steal small breaths of night air from out the back window. On Friday evening they presented the results of their tireless efforts.

The only winners of the competition were you, dear Captain Dash enthusiasts. A whirlwind week of dizzying creativity, caffeinated sweat, and shaking fingers clicking away at computers lent itself to some of the coolest new data viz and analytics projects that these eyes have ever seen.

Although I am sworn to secrecy to not reveal the details of the Hackweek Secret Files, I can tell you that the fruit of our labor yielded results that you’ve never heard of, though of, or even fathomed could exist. Let’s just say that when the new version of the application hits the App store in a few weeks, you’ll be on a sugar high for days from the dataviz eye candy that we’re about to throw your way.

 

Data-Kisses,

Captain Dash

Choosing the right KPIs

KPIs serve as the magic formula to getting better insights into your company's data. At times you might feel as if there is too much data to handle when trying to create your optimal Data Visualization. Without clear planning and execution, dashboards can become sources of confusion and distraction, causing you to stress out over a data overload. Here are some tips that won't leave you confused when trying to extract all that pretty data.

Though it is often a challenge to satisfy all the players within your organization, an even bigger challenge is releasing the data that is most relevant to you. Perhaps you should ask yourself, what is the purpose of this examination? This is one factor that is often overlooked, and put too much emphasis on their huge data reserves. Leveraging Big Data is only worthy of value when we have identified the problem that you are trying to solve.

The main KPIs to monitor on our app are (in no particular order): Visits, Bounce Rate, Followers, Retweets, Likes, People Talking About This. Keep track of these and they will allow you to get better insights into how your company's performing. What's more, getting insights from these KPIs go beyond telling you something is wrong; they can tell you what to do. This removes the ambiguity of what you should do next – which can be particularly useful when you're not a regular dashboard user.

As we look towards the future and adding further useful KPIs to our app, we hope that the process of making meaningful data visualizations is not just displaying some things in an aesthetically pleasing way. Rather, being able to shape experiences, and therefore behaviors. One other direction for the future of our dashboards is insights integration alongside data visualizations. The amount of data that you have available is driving the need for more analysts who can pull the data out and make sense of it. The questions that are relevant for business decisions aren't going to change. You always end up managing the main elements of your business on a few key performance metrics. That data may be buried in the client’s servers, and if you have a good brain for analytics, you will eventually find it.

Hope this was helpful!

Faithfully yours,

 

The Captain

Data Visualization: an Art or Science?

Many opinions differ on the topic of how people consume Data Visualization. Is it a step back in time, i.e. is it of historical benefit? Or is it just like you would visit a gallery: you think pensively at the presentation trying different ways to interpret it's true meaning. We'd like to get deeper into the true meaning of Data Visualizations; getting past text and figures, and finding other characteristics in the data. In order to do this it's important we approach them with a pinch of salt, that is to say, to try and connect the data presented to us to the subconscious in such a way that it will yield a different understanding. Many of the projects vary enormously in subjects, formats, and so on, however there are also big differences between private and public data visualizations. Most of us only really know about the public ones, with which most of the time the data is open-sourced and more viewer reasoning. On the private side, they appear to be more functional, and perhaps more focused, as the viewing numbers are much lower.

Data Visualizations serve as multi-functional points of reference, as well as having cognitive effects on the user, triggering emotions and developing differing opinions. As well as this, people who publish their work based on data readily available to them put the time and effort into making them; in an attractive and informative manner. So gathering the data is the scientific part, but the end product is certainly artistic and can be quite easy on the eye.

This video was taken from the PBS Off Book Webisode:

The Art of Data Visualization

"It's not about "know your audience", it's "respect your audience" and really know your content" -Edward Tufte

This video goes more in detail in the creation, architecture, and variation in different Data Visualization projects. It includes, along with Edward Tufte, Julie Steele (O’Reilly Media), Josh Smith (Hyperakt), Jer Thorpe (Office for Creative Research). It is interesting to hear different opinions on Data Visualization, such as Jer stating that “Data Visualization is about Revelation – seeing something you have never seen before." What he means here is that finding a key characteristic that differentiates data science from business intelligence. Going from informative visualizations to infographics, we can see how data has emerged as a vital part of modern life that entering into the realm of art, where data-driven visual experiences challenge viewers to find personal meaning.

Faithfully yours,

The Captain

The Captain's Picks: "Beautiful Visualization: Looking at Data Through the Eyes of Experts" Aaron Koblin

To finish off the Captain's Picks mini-series, we chose a more recent title that has been a point of reference for many DataViz enthusiasts. Aaron Koblin, along with a number of creative and inspirational contributors, published a brilliant book entitled: "Beautiful Visualization: Looking at Data Through the Eyes of Experts." Just so we are clear, this book is not a 'how-to' book, rather, it tells the reader how some very well-known visualizations were made, in detail. The book consists of 20 chapters, written in an essay-style format, by 24 contributors. Some very well known Data Visualization enthusiasts are among the contributors, which makes it all the more inspirational. Taking one of these authors as an example, Noah Iliinksky,  who works as a Visualization Expert at IBM's Center for Advanced Visualization, describes beautiful data visualization as "novel, informative, efficient, and aesthetic." In order to do this, he describes it in four key steps:

1) Stepping outside default parameters: "In most situations, well-defined formats have well-defined rational conventions of use: line graphs for continuous data, bar graphs for discrete data, pie graphs for when you are more interested in a pretty picture than conveying knowledge." In other words, in order for the visualization to appear beautiful, it must be novel and create shock and awe.

2) Make it informative Noah points out the obvious here, in that there should be a clear understanding of the message and needs of the audience are key in doing so. Sometimes when creating beautiful visualizations, even the simplest of guidelines can be overlooked, such as this one.

3) Efficiency "Every bit of visual context will make it take longer to find any particular element of the visualization." In other words, visualize what matters most and eradicate the part that doesn't, or relocate it to the background so it doesn't distract.

4) Leverage Aesthetics Use simple components of graph (titles, axes, etc.) to increase utility of the visualization.

Other noteworthy authors include: Jessica Hagy, Johnathan Feinberg (Wordle), Martin Wattenberg & Fernanda Viegas (Visualizing Wikipedia). Of course the author Aaron Koblin deserves special mention, for his impressive work on flight patterns across the US along with his colleague Valdean Klump. See more on this project from his awesome TED Talk from 2011. The book does not serve the purpose of just learning about visualization tools, on the contrary, the reader will learn about data, what questions to and not to ask, and how to convey the appropriate message.

The book is available from Amazon here.

And this concludes our Captain's Picks series, we hope you enjoyed reading about the books that have been an inspiration to us over the years!

Cheers,

The Captain.

The Captain's Picks: 'Exploratory Data Analysis'; Tukey, John Wilder (1977)

To continue where we left you last week, the Captain would like to review another influential book as part of this series of "The Captain's Picks." The book we have chosen is "Exploring Data Analysis" by John Tukey, written in 1977. This book, though considerably old, still contains some relevant definitions and tips on visualizing data today. For example, in the preface, the book "exists to expose its readers and users to a considerable variety of techniques for looking more effectively at one's data."  As defined by Tukey himself, the basic objective of data visualization is to provide an efficient graphical display for summarizing and reasoning about quantitative information.

The book begins from chapters 1-4 on graphing data, and then goes on to describe other topics such as delineating scatter plots, smoothing sequences, and assessing distributions, among others. Some of the vocabulary is complicated, such as "flog", "froot", and "hinge", however they are clearly defined and add to charm of the book. It is worthwhile to go back over the book, as you can be sure you may have missed something, as it was written in a didactic style.

'Exploratory Data Analysis' is an attitude, a state of flexibility, a willingness to look for those things that we believe are not there, as well as those we believe to be there.

The book describes many specific methods and a general approach, the latter being quite detective in nature. The author has a sweet spot for simplicity, which are exemplified in his clear and concise statements all throughout. We enjoyed his in-depth analysis, as well as the value placed on accuracy. If there was a misplaced digit, it wasn't that big of a deal; but had it been a decimal point, it would be serious. In order to get a better understanding of Tukey's work, it might be worthwhile completing the examples outlined in each chapter as well as solving the problems located at the end of each chapter.

To conclude, Psychologists (and Marketers alike) who adopt methods of the sort proposed by Tukey, and who adopt his general approach to data analysis, may discover more in their data and get greater enjoyment while analyzing their data. You can order the book here on Amazon.

Cheers,

The Captain.