Spotting the Invisible: the Power of Data Visualization

Data Visualization-featured-image

Once upon a time, oil companies ruled the world. A huge, untapped, precious 18th-century asset, oil, was the most valuable resource in the world. It was the main functionality of everything from the national administration to local businesses. Progress would stall without it and economies would shrink. 

Fast-forward to the present, with the digitalization era, data went from scarce, costly, hard to find and obtain, to vast and inexpensive, very challenging to process and understand. Data has become an essential resource that powers the information economy in much the way that oil has fueled the industrial ages. That is how the “big data” concept emergedBig Data is a set of data that is immense in volume, but exponentially increasing with time. It is a data of such large scale and complexity that it cannot be easily stored or handled by any conventional data processing tools. 

However, big data is good when we, as individuals and companies, will make the most out of it. If data is processed correctly, it can become digital gold, and this can only happen by giving meaning and purpose to the original raw data with the use of visualization tools. This is how we should make sense of the information to create value out of it. It is both an art and a science to unlock the value of data, but it does not have to be overwhelming. 

 “The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see”. John W Tukey

Data Visualization

One of the best ways for our brains to interpret and understand data is through data visualization. The decision-maker can more readily appreciate the meaning of the data by putting data in a graph form.  It has been demonstrated that our ability to search, identify, remember, and interpret data allows us to learn faster and more accurately. Thereforeorganizations have started to count on IT and third-party specialists for data management, data aggregation and decision support. But now, progressively, companies are turning their attention to data visualization tools to help them aggregate, evaluate and gain insight from their data.  

According to 3M Corporation, images are processed by our brain 60,000 times faster than text. By default, humans are more visual and unintentionally experience the world more through the eyes. Designing a data visualization goes beyond just the aesthetic you need to always take into consideration the human factorthe objective and who, why, where and when the audience will use the visualization. 

As ServiceNow consultants, we are constantly asked for guidance by our customers on what visualization choices the Now Platform has. Based on our best practices, here are the following options:

I. Reports

ServiceNow reports are data visualizations that can share with users on dashboards and service portals, export to PDF, and send via email. Some of the main advantages are: 

  • Real time: always show current information 
  • Secure: users can only see data they are authorized to see 
  • Native: easily used throughout the Now Platform 

Data visualizations enable developers to introduce data to users in easy ways. The formats are: 

  • Reports: visualization of data for analysis 
Requester API Usage by Resource
  • On-demand bar and pie charts created from lists: users create charts for any column on a list 
On-demand bar and pie charts created from lists
  • % Complete indicators in lists: bar indicates how close a record is to completion 
% Complete indicators in lists
  • Chart data type for forms: inserts a report into a form 
Chart data type for forms
  • Dashboardscollection of widgets consisting of reports and analytics 

II. Performance Analytics

We are frequently asked by our customers why do we recommend Performance Analytics when ServiceNow comes already with multifaceted reports optionsAs you may know, Performance Analytics (PA) provides historical background regarding a company’s operational activities and the overall health of the business. Often, only one visual representation- a dashboard, can reveal useful information about a department/ company activity rather than wasting hours looking at spreadsheets. 

Performance Analytics

Before stating below some benefits of Performance Analyticswe need to start by contrasting between basic reporting and business analytics. Basic reporting lets you comprehend what is going on in your ServiceNow application at any given time. But without previous context, it is challenging to say whether your applications are providing the real business value.

Performance analytics, on the flip side, allows you to track application KPIs over time providing insights into how the business is functioning. Taking into consideration those insights a company can improve its actions and business through an improvement service strategy. HencePerformance Analytics is a great data visualization tool that enables a data-driven approach that’s automated, secure and lives on the ServiceNow platform, all in intuitive graphical design.

Performance Analytics 2

Here are some benefits of Performance Analytics: 

Predict Trends 

Analyze performance to discover what areas need improvement and detect service blockages, before they take place. 

Concentrate on Resources 

Prioritize activities and re-direct service coverage when needed.  

Boost Automation and self-service 

Determine where automation and self-service can expand efficiency. 

Guide continual service improvement

Take measures on KPIs using Analytics Hub, time charts, forecasts, breakdowns and dashboards. 

Data visualization is constantly developing, and as new technologies and techniques drive the boundaries of data, your organization should be flexible enough not only to adapt to these new environments, but also remain realistic in your visualization techniques selection. ServiceNow is a great solution which needs to be implemented and maintained in a way that it can provide value. Both the Reporting and Performance Analytics products are the platform’s vital functionalities that delivers value across many ServiceNow departments, helping us to make better decisions and track our performance at the strategic, operational and individual level. 

Working for world-wide customers with different needs and activities, ABIT Puresoft has identified several best practices that can contribute significantly to your business success. Having the right set of skills and a flexible business approach, ABIT Puresoft can enable you to get the most out of the ServiceNow platform. 


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