Here at Sisense, we always say that we’re living in a data-driven world, so we strive to stay on top of news and views about the world of data and analytics. This Month in Embedded Analytics gives you our take on what’s caught our eye over the past few weeks.  

Data is truly everywhere, and this month our eyes are drawn in several disparate directions, including beloved movies, the use of analytics in high-level strategic decisions, and even Florence Nightingale’s use of data visualizations to save lives in the Crimean War. From the box office to the front lines to the C-suite, analytics infused into workflows and decision-making processes help change the world and evolve businesses.

Whatever you’re building, analytics have a role to play in the creative process and the finished product. We hope these articles from around the web will inspire you to think about the innovative ways data is being used and what that can mean for your business.

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Movie scores skyrocket — why? And what does it mean?

Vaccination numbers are on the rise, and the “new normal” is changing yet again. In the midst of tenuous reopenings across America and much of the world, people seeking solace from pandemic-addled minds and the summer heat are heading back to movie theaters. But before viewers decide which blockbuster to commit to, they often inform their decision with some data.

Enter the now-ubiquitous movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. Though critics have been giving audiences boiled-down intelligence for decades (RIP to the notorious “two thumbs up” of Siskel and Ebert fame), no movie news source has occupied as much of the public’s attention in recent years as the Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer,” which aggregates a collection of critical scores to give users a rough estimate of the film’s quality.

However, intelligence derived from data is only as good as the data underlying that analysis. Case in point: Is “Paddington 2” an objectively better film than “Citizen Kane”? According to Rotten Tomatoes, yes! But herein lies our lesson from this article: Beware creeping changes in the data that undergirds your analytics and what could be causing those shifts.

Data compiled by Global News shows that scores on Rotten Tomatoes have been steadily rising from its launch in 1999, and especially since the site was acquired by Warner Brothers in 2011. Five years later, Comcast bought a 70% stake in the site, turning it into an arm of ticket sales service Fandango.

And the possible influencing elements don’t stop there: The Tomatometer’s aggregator is fed by more critics than ever before, with sometimes hundreds submitting reviews for each new movie and a team of human readers (that’s right, actual humans) sifting through tons of additional reviews elsewhere on the web. (Now here’s a place where natural language processing and sentiment analysis could really help!)   

We won’t spoil the whole story, but it’s a really interesting look at the ways data changes over time. Wherever you’re infusing analytics — into internal workflows or customer-facing apps or websites — remember to always understand your datasets, sources, and the ways they can change.

Infusing analytics into strategic decisions

When it comes to decision-making, it doesn’t get much more “micro” than picking a movie. But what about when you need to go “macro” and make big decisions about the direction of your company? Consulting powerhouse McKinsey suggests that analytics are needed here to inform strategic decisions, citing analytics’ ability to reduce bias, spot growth opportunities, highlight nascent trends, and even help savvy C-suite teams stay ahead of complex market shifts.

First off, decreasing bias: Everyone likes to win. Unfortunately, McKinsey reports, we may overestimate our own likelihood of doing so, especially when we haven’t taken into account the track records of similar companies with similar goals. To cite McKinsey’s example: If you’re trying to grow by $100 million per year for the next decade, you might be interested to know that only 35% of big companies have accomplished this feat and maybe adjust your goal somewhat. Analytics shouldn’t throw cold water on lofty ambitions, but inform them with historical and outside-in perspective.

Analytics can also help leaders spot new growth opportunities. The article suggests that with the right advanced analytics (AI-augmented), companies can scan their portfolios of products and services and cross-reference them with growing, changing markets to identify new applications and audiences.

Digging into the performance of your own departments and teams can also highlight hidden gems that have shown greater-than-expected success and might be worth doubling down on. None of these possibilities are necessarily obvious, but all could have a huge impact on your company’s strategy, if the right actionable intelligence is infused into the executive team’s strategy-development process. 

Identifying early-stage trends and unlocking complex market dynamics are two other key areas where leadership teams can use analytics to revolutionize their company’s future course. Check out what McKinsey has to say and don’t miss some wise words to chief marketing officers from our own CMO, Ashley Kramer. Combining intelligence derived from analyzed data with the right actions is a key to making a good strategy great.

Florence Nightingale’s data visualizations evolved medicine and saved lives

The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge data story. People who’d never looked closely at a spreadsheet or graph in their lives were suddenly delving into visualizations and clicking into public health datasets. With all the technology that facilitates our modern understanding of analytics, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s all about computers and fancy graphics. So file this story from PBS about data visualizations under the heading “older than you think.”

Florence Nightingale’s name will forever be synonymous with revolutionizing nursing. Now it can be synonymous with something else: using data visualizations to do it. 

The year was 1854. As casualties were mounting in the Crimean War hospital where Nightingale’s nursing unit was hard at work, something else was piling up as well — data. Nightingale was deeply committed to using mathematics to understand the world. She employed math to change conditions at the hospital, documenting and visualizing the ways soldiers were dying, whether directly from their injuries or from preventable diseases caused by a lack of proper medical supplies. She also used the visualizations to show how her procedure changes had improved mortality rates at the hospital.

Diagram of the causes of mortality in the Army in the East

It’s a stirring reminder of how actionable intelligence from data doesn’t just evolve businesses and unlock new revenue — it can save lives and change the world. What are you doing with your analytics?

Get the full value of embedded analytics for customers and for the business:
>> Find out where and how embedded analytics can create value in this free guide

Download Now

Jack Cieslak is a 10-year veteran of the tech world. He’s written for Amazon, CB Insights, and others, on topics ranging from ecommerce and VC investments to crazy product launches and top-secret startup projects.

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