Data visualization is a critical way for anyone to turn endless rows of data into easy-to-understand results through dynamic and understandable visuals. Whether your favorite visualization is a pie chart, a geographic map, or relies on natural language, showing the insights that empower you to make more informed decisions is a better way to do data-driven business.

Analyst firms say that SAS has market-leading data visualization. This helps users across the globe find insights in their data using new and exciting trends in data visualization.

Here are some ways you can get the most out of your data visualization:

Augmented Exploration – the intersection of Analytics and BI

In the past couple of years, trends have shifted from the analyst persona taking center stage in all things Analytics and BI to now empowering the decision-maker to have a closer relationship with the data and the insights drawn from it, and act based on those insights. A 2022 BARC survey with over 200 participating companies across the globe, indicates “self-service to edit or author report and dashboards” as the technical feature that has contributed most to the adoption and usage of BI/Analytics tools within organizations.

SAS’s BI tool – SAS Visual Analytics - has a 360-degree approach, which allows organizations to establish a range of BI self-service modes and enables all departments to move in concert. Business users can access relevant insights quickly without turning IT or analytics departments into bottlenecks, and analysts can take advantage of business acumen to direct their analysis while focusing on advanced modeling and automation. In having all users take part in the analytical flow, companies can ensure relevant and accurate information reaches decision-makers timely and effectively.

Anyone can take advantage of self-service BI with SAS Visual Analytics. Are you a data storyteller, analytical explorer, or insights consumer?

  1. Data storytellers – are exacting insights from data and sharing them with thousands of viewers, who need to see information displayed in intuitive and interactive visualizations. Because users need to quickly gain a comprehensive understanding of opportunities and challenges hidden in the data, report builders are now becoming data storytellers. While not going into analytical exploration detail, in this new paradigm, report builders do take advantage of automated analytics. They use a combination of suggested visualizations, auto-identification of related measures, and automated explanations to surface, with the most compelling reporting, the impact of any KPIs organizations are tracking.
  2. Analytical explorers - take advantage of augmented SAS Visual Analytics capabilities like automated predictions and automated explanation (with variable characteristics and importance analysis, anomaly analysis, model summary generation) in an easy-to-understand natural language format. While this user can decide to work on improving their analytical models, SAS Visual Analytics supports them with model autotuning and offers a low-code environment for model development and building composite AI solutions. Furthermore, data loaded for reporting is scanned and suggestions are made on which charts would most effectively display information in a report. All this assists analytical explorers in promoting analytical insights to consumer reports in a highly efficient manner, reducing the time to value for decision-makers.
  3. Insights consumers – allow users ranging from novice to expert to approach reports through different viewer customization levels that can be set up by the report designer:
    • Simple Edits – the lowest level of control over visualizations, used for retrieving quick insights from a report, while still maintaining a level of flexibility like sorting and showing legends and data labels
    • Comprehensive Edits – users receive a template-like report, but can modify its intent by changing chart types, whether the objects are accessed directly in the application, or embedded in a webpage
    • Data Edits – for expert viewers, this is the highest level of control which allows them to change not only the chart type, but also data items, filters, and ranking options. You can learn more about Data Edits customization level in this great How-to video.

Special mention: Governance

We cannot address the topic of self-service without addressing some of the cautions that come with it. The main one is governance. Namely, how do organizations make sure that users who are now enabled to create their own reports are accessing the same source of truth are not generating insight silos, that are using correct and high-quality data?

SAS Viya platform delivers a comprehensive and centralized solution through SAS Data Governance, helping track data lineage (data origins, modifications performed to a data source, how calculations were created, authorship) throughout the analytical lifecycle. Beyond allowing an organization to apply its data rules and policies, we want to ensure that executives who use governed data fully trust it and data analysts are supported with automated data quality checks.

Embedded Analytics

If self-service accelerates time to insights, embedding those insights into existing web applications also keeps users engaged. There is no surprise that this topic’s popularity is on the rise in the ABI world and across industries. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about not only a need to receive alerts and predict outcomes ahead of the curve but also to make those available to thousands and sometimes millions of users, to gain trust and keep information at the forefront (see government and healthcare institutions). Embedding also enables companies to confidently approach an external deployment model, for the kind of information that can be shared with the wider public. We cannot deny, it also has to do with the need to avoid “application fatigue” and simply a desire to have “information at our fingertips”, within our daily workflow.

SAS’s first SDKs and APIs for integrating personalized visualizations within websites, company portals and business applications were released well before the pandemic. More recently, SAS has added embedding capabilities for intuitive navigation of SAS Viya folder structures and report recommendations, natural language explanation, and PDF export capabilities to the Viya platform.

For an in-depth dive into what the SAS Visual Analytics SDK is, how to set it up, and how it would benefit your company, have a look at this SAS Global Forum 2020 recording. Plus, see these capabilities in action through our US COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.

Always Share Insights

There is an urgency in sharing data, so much so that Gartner calls it imperative unless there is a “well-vetted reason not to” in their report Top Trends in Data and Analytics, 2022. I will go as far as saying the same about actionable insights. It makes sense if we think of the disruptions in most verticals produced by the global COVID pandemic. There has been a need to switch gears many times due to supply chain interruptions, employment fluctuation, and healthcare considerations. In these scenarios, keeping all stakeholders informed and involved in the next steps is paramount.

SAS makes it easy to share high-impact analytical insights directly from your Outlook inbox, with SAS for Microsoft Outlook 365. Users can enable the Microsoft Apps Add-in to explore and interact with SAS Visual Analytics reports, within a canvas attached to the email editing pane, allowing data to truly support the message to their stakeholders. Then they can also include any visualization object in their email with the click of a button.

Incorporating these trends into your data visualization strategy is a great way to empower any kind of user to contribute to better decisions based on data. Anyone can bring value to their organization, regardless of their level of analytics expertise, with data visualization!

For more on the latest SAS Viya releases, including our latest SDKs, APIs, and Microsoft 365 integration, keep an eye out on the SAS Viya Release Highlights section of our SAS Users channel on YouTube.

Plus, if these trends have you feeling inspired to get a hands-on look at SAS, sign up for our free trial.

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About Author

Diana Maris

Product Manager, SAS

Diana Maris is a Product Manager for SAS Intelligent Decisioning, working on helping organizations on their journey from question to analytics insights driven decisions. Previously, she worked as a Business Intelligence consultant at SAS for 9+ years, helping organizations across multiple verticals manage data and disseminate information to improve their operations and competitive advantage through the use of SAS BI applications. She likes to bring curiosity and creativity into her customer interviews and her collaboration with R&D, Design and Product Management for delivering exciting product features. She enjoys talking about AI, languages, and travel, and outside of business hours, loves being in nature with her husband and their dog.

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