Telling stories with data

Telling stories with data

Businesses don’t need more data. Managers may think that they do – if they are struggling either to get the data that they need to make decisions confidently, or to define the impact of their past actions on business results.

With data coming into businesses from stores, phones, cars, websites, IoT devices, social media, order processing systems, invoicing systems, etc, the

  • volume
  • velocity
  • variety
  • variability

of data coming into your business has never been greater.

This means competitive advantage will be gained by those companies who can:

  • access and index (store) data from across their business at high-speed and ideally in near real-time
  • combine and collate data from different systems – often ‘owned’ by different departmental silos – to give an unambiguous picture of ‘what is happening’
  • interrogate data to gain an insight into urgent or strategic business questions

We believe businesses need people who can turn data into stories that everyone can understand.

A data narrative turns massive streams of machine data such as in-store transactions, online behaviour, call centre activity levels, central and regional stock levels, social media messages etc. into a single powerful message that instructs the organisation on how to act.

New technologies take unstructured, unwashed machine data like this, from an order processing system:

ORDER, 2016-05-21T14:04:12.484,10098213, 569281734, 67.17.10.12,43CD1A7B8322, SA-2100

and this, from a web log:

May 21 14:04:12.996 wl-01.acme.com Order 56928173 failed for customer 10098213. Exception follows:weblogic.jdbc.extensdions.ConnectionDeadSQLException:weblogic.common.resourcepool.ResourceDeadException: Could not create pool connection. The DBMS driver exception was:[BEA] {Oracle JDBC Driver] Error establishing socket to host and port: ACMEDB-01:1521. Reason: Connection refused

along with this, from a call centre IVR:

05/21 16:33:11.238 [CONNEVENT] Ext 1207130 (0192033): Event 20111, CTI Num: ServID: Type 0:19:9, App 0, ANI T7998#1, DNIS 5555685981, SerID 40489a07-7f6e-4251-801a-13ae51a6d092, Trunk T451.16

05/21 16:33:11.242 {SCREENPOPEVENT] SerID 40489a07-7f6e-4251-801a-13ae51a6d092 CUSTID 10098213

05/21 16:37:49.732 [DISCEVENT] SerID 40489a07-7f6e-4251-801a-13ae51a6d092

and this, from Twitter:

{actor:{diplayName: “Go Boys!!”,followersCount: 1366, friendsCount:789,link: http://dallascowboys.com/location:{displayName:”Dallas, TX,objectType:”place”}, objectType: “person”,preferredUsername:B0ysF@n80”,statusesCount:6072},body:”Just bought this POS device from @ACME. Doesn’t work! Called, gave up on waiting for them to answer! RT if you hate @ACME!!”,objectType:”activity”,postedTime:2016-05-21T16:39:40.647-0600”}

to turn it into a story of your customer’s journey so you can identify pain points and take swift action.

It turns management team meetings from:

  • Why did we fall short of sales targets last quarter?

to:

  • How many customers weren’t satisfied yesterday, across which channel and what have we done about it?
  • How has our lost revenue trended in the last week and is regional stock availability, queue length in store or web page loading speed more responsible?
  • What proportion of our sales increase is due to each of the following: the effectiveness of our online ads, the price promotions that we have offered, our call centre response times or our inventory stock holding levels?

The need to do all of the above at the most cost-effective price possible is paramount; whilst licensing, hardware, server, storage and labour costs all need to be optimised.

Splunk is the technology that our data team choose for speed and value of operational data analysis.

Taking data from all the systems you use to give partial views of customer and operational behaviour, often after many hours of manual intervention, it gives answers more quickly, at a lower cost, than any comparative technology we have seen.

It takes data from all the systems that you currently use to get a partial view of your customer and operational behaviour (often after many hours of manual intervention), to give you a more comprehensive set of answers, much quicker and at a lower cost than any comparative technology that we have seen.

We use it with retailers, wholesalers and similar businesses to access, index and interrogate data. Our work is about ‘finding the needle in the haystack’ and changing the quality and timeliness of conversations within a business.

Splunk is a quick-to-value technology, offering ROI within weeks or months and often, in our experience, within the validation period.

Our data team’s Analytics-as-a-Service offers those businesses looking for very rapid transformations the ability to achieve ‘story-telling abilities’ within weeks. So, the management meetings that were a battle of conflicting metrics, start from clear and compelling stories that speak to the business, and move rapidly towards decisive action.

You can read more about our work with a global retailer, using Splunk to cut wastage on fresh produce and increase on-shelf availability here.

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