Author Archives: Darren Loureiro

Storytelling has been key to sharing the human experience since the beginning of time. It draws people and engages them in a memorable experience for them to preserve in their minds and draw conclusions.

With the rise of self-service BI, many users now can create compelling data visualizations, but how can they present them to others in a meaningful way? Perhaps, we could just show them. Or maybe there is a better way?

In one study researchers found that only 5% of participants remember an individual statistic compared to 63% who could recall the stories told. This is where data story telling steps in. Analysts around the world are conveying the information in their data and visualizations via story telling.

Truthfully, data cannot tell a story on it’s own. As the one doing the analysis, the onus is on you to convey the information so all parties understand what you are attempting to convey. To give you a hand, we have compiled a short guide to get you started, and hopefully blow away the people at your next data presentation.

Finding Your Angle

The first step to crafting a compelling data story is to find your narrative. Who are my characters? What is the plot? How about some challenges?

These are key pieces of information that will help outline your angle, which will compel the audience to want to hear more about your information.

The next step is to get your hands dirty with data and start broad! You can either start with focus questions to guide you or take an exploratory approach and let the conclusions drawn tell you where your story is going to go. Use an analytics software such as JReport that will enable you to look at the data from any angle with ease, and find your selling point!

Having a structured approach ensures you to not manipulate the data to support your pre-conceived beliefs.

Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words

Using a combination of visual aids and images will allow your narrative to come to life. But, the most important piece of the puzzle is the data visualizations– after all we’re telling data stories here. Business intelligence software is the go-to here as they come with a plethora of visualizations to wow everyone in the room.

You will need to consider the objectives of your presentation to craft a story through data visualizations. Are you comparing data? Maybe side-by-side or back-to-back charts work.

These are all important considerations, but we also want people to look at our visuals and derive insights right away as they follow our narrative. Use annotations to point out the key information or even explain what the chart is conveying.

Storyboard Your Way to Eloquence

Next, you will want to get your core story in place and storyboard the rest. Write out your objectives and frequently reference them to make sure you answered them. As you tell your story ensure that it is formatted in a problem-solution structure.

As you create this structure, this will allow you to feel out where the other elements fall into place– the characters, the visuals, and the challenges presented. The key focus should be coming up with a linear flow of information that describes to the audience how you got the various conclusions and what your audience can learn from it.

Know Who Your Audience Is

Knowing your audience can mean a world of difference in how you create structure in your narrative. Speaking to nontechnical persons can mean that you require in-depth explanations of the why’s in how you are presenting data such as:

  • Why use this visualization or chart specifically?
  • What data are the axes presenting?
  • Main goals and what you are analyzing (e.g., we are looking at product performance data)

This can help you build a common understanding and ensure that your audience understands the information completely. Of course if you know if you are presenting to technical persons who can extrapolate the basics, you can skip over.

There is no right way to tell a data story. It can be tricky and much of crafting a compelling data story revolves around mitigating circumstances such as, “who is my audience?” Having a plan of attack and ensuring you consider all the variables at hand will ensure that you delight your audience with a narrative that speaks for your data visualizations.

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Our recent partnership with CData enhances JReport’s connectivity to Salesforce.com (along with many other data sources) enabling live data access from dashboards and reports. The Data JDBC driver allows JReport to query data using SQL. This article details the process for connecting JReport to Salesforce.com as a JDBC data source to start creating dashboards and reports.

Establishing a Connection

Establishing a connection is the first step to connecting to Salesforce.com. Please refer to our documentation to set this up.

  1. Create catalog

Catalog

  1. Configure connection settings
  • Driver: Be sure that the Driver box is checked and fill in the name of the class for the driver: cdata.jdbc.salesforce.SalesforceDriver
  • URL: Enter the JDBC URL. This starts with jdbc:salesforce:and is followed by a semicolon-separated list of connection properties. Below is a typical JDBC URL: jdbc:salesforce:User=username;Password=password;SecurityToken=Your_Security_Token;

JDBC connection

  1. Browse and import table information

import table

Creating Your Metadata

  1. Create query and data mashup (See Documentation)

metadata layer

  1. Create business view (See Documentation)

business view

Your First Report Component

Creating a report component is standard functionality with JReport. Please refer to our documentation on the process for designing reports.

report

Your First Dashboard

Creating dashboards is standard functionality with JReport. Please refer to our documentation on the process for designing dashboards.

dashboard

Summary

Prior to the CData Software drivers, if you wanted to retrieve data from Salesforce.com to create your own dashboard or report, you had to implement your own application by understanding Salesforce.com’s web service interface. In the event Salesforce.com changes or upgrades their service command, you had to modify your code.

Now with CData, their JDBC driver wraps Salesforce.com’s web service as a general relational database, simplifying the entire process. JReport supports JDBC connections and now users can leverage JReport’s full capabilities and robust technology to work with Salesforce.com as a data source without adding even a single line of extra code.

There also no need for JReport to monitor any updates to Salesforce.com since CData Software handles that. During our certification process, the only challenge we encountered was the lack of SQL joins among two or more tables, so we used JReport’s data mashup functionality to join the individual tables using the CData Software JDBC connection locally. We then used JReport’s parameter features to control the result set in order to gain the best performance.

Try JReport and CData today by downloading JReport here and referring to CData documentation here.

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In our recent eBook, Self-Service Can Be Embedded Too, we dive into the need for applications to be data driven, and we describe the various BI & analytics capabilities that can be embedded into your application.

Read on to get a short excerpt of what’s inside!

Better Outcomes with Data Driven Apps

With an integrated approach to analytics, end users can focus on working within one application rather than two and benefit from contextualized analytics.

This is the hallmark benefit of embedded analytics as it provides a clean, seamless user experience for supporting two platforms in one. Users can navigate the application without second guessing if the analytics was bought and can perform the same workflows but with data insights.

Embedding Self-Service and Visualizations

In this section, we discuss different strategies to embedding analytics in your application.

We find that many organizations elect to embed different features in different ways. For example, reporting can sometimes be a separate module on your application or visualizations embedded directly within a page or workflow.

It is up to your organization what features are critical to being embedded where, and to find a vendor that best supports that embedding strategy.

Embedded Data Integration

For organizations with many data sources or keen on allowing end users to connect and mash up any data source, self-service data integration should be a goal. The ability to mash up organizational data with external data allows for greater insights.

Looking for modern embedded frameworks that have flexible data integration service is key. Look for access to a wide variety of data sources with the flexibility of access, integration capabilities, and discovery tools.

The Core Technical Requirements

When evaluating embedded BI solutions, look to the solution’s core architecture. Ensure it offers a rich set of APIs, endless configuration options, and architecture that will support you as a customer for a life time.

Make sure you are not purchasing a toolkit or a set of libraries. Flexibility is key. Having ownership of their visualizations, and design to fit any infrastructure, for example, allows the product to move where your product goes or fulfill feature requests that may be critical to your application.

In sum, the back-end of an embedded BI product is supremely important to monetizing data. Not only is it important to evaluate for the here and now, but also future proofing the analytics that will go into your application is important. Product roadmaps and core architecture can tell you how flexible a solution is in fitting both your current and future needs.

Read the full eBook here, and get the full scoop.

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sales reportDecades ago, corporate IT did all the heavy lifting in providing data insights from within. IT built out data warehouses and provided data insights via data modeling and building their own reports. The cream of the crop organizations could enable business intelligence, which was not prolific to many other organizations.

With the advent of modern BI solutions, data insights are everywhere. From enterprise deployments to daily mobile applications, we can find reporting and analytics on some level.

Companies now create their own BI tools or purchase a BI tool and manage BI programs in various departments. Tthe benefits of BI are expanding to more departments and use cases as their benefits become stark.

As the need for enterprise BI grows, various use cases have proliferated such as:

  • Managed Reporting
  • Self-Service BI
  • Dashboards
  • Data Discovery for Power Users
  • Embedded Analytics

To this end, we have compiled an eBook that describes the fascinating approaches to BI that enterprises have utilized.  Read on for a quick peak at what’s inside:

Managed Reporting Lives On

To this day, scheduled and on-demand reporting remains the most common use case. Many people within the enterprise require consistent delivery of data to do their job.

This use case is typical of the IT-User partnership in which users submit requirements and IT does much of the heavy lifting with report design.

Self-Service for the Enterprise

With the rise of self-service tools, many jobs require analytics to provide insights on some levels. Naturally, the enterprise turns to self-service tools to provide zero-training analytics out of the box.

This allows knowledge workers to get their hands dirty with data and drill down, slice and dice, and look at the data from any angle to draw insights and get right to business.

Collaboration is the Key

Other users require monitoring and collaborative analytics such as dashboards to manage processes or carry out their job.

Dashboards provide a collection of charts and KPIs to show progress to goals. This helps teams realize where they are and make adjustments so they can make their goals. There are a plethora of features that allow for personalization or up-to-date monitoring with real-time data integration.

Discover What is in Your Data

Power users and the likes of analysts demand advanced data discovery tools that allow them to connect to a wide range of data sources and build compelling reports with custom code.

These types of tools expand on self-service to give more freedom to the end user. By allowing them to build their own custom formulas, design reports with precision, and connect and join data from varying sources, power users can bring more to the enterprise on their own accord.

The Growing Need of Embedded Analytics

Enterprises are turning to embedded analytics to fuel their commercial offerings or provide contextualized analytics to their workforce.

By embedding, enterprises can allow a streamlined workflow within one application lessening the time of training and deployment due to the lack of need to install the tool. Additionally, commercial offerings can be branded and customized to look and feel apart of the enterprises’ brand.

You can read more about the five styles of enterprise BI by downloading our free eBook.

 

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This week JReport was featured on Solutions Review’s “6 Embedded Analytics Vendors to Watch in 2017.

With end of the year rapidly approaching, reviewers look to rank BI vendors who have had the most exciting product developments. Solutions Review has found six vendors that have impressed them, and hope to watch their movement throughout 2017.

JReport in Review

This year, JReport has gone through two major releases which has strengthened the product in reporting, embedded and usability capabilities.

JReport 13.5 was treated with a major face lift to its user interface. The UI received a sleek, flat visual design accompanied with simplified chart navigation.

Along with this JReport 13.5 introduced a web property inspector allowing self-service users to customize their reports and dashboards with even higher precision. Self-service users can now more easily design reports with control over styling, object placement, spacing, and much more.capture(11)

Lastly, JReport 13.5 brought a great deal of improvements to customizability with expanded support for CSS and National Language Support, which provides language support in every facet of the product.

JReport 14 Changes the Game

JReport 14 carried on to make major improvements to usability. We brought our users a new fascinating way to create visualizations with Quick Start. It reduces the time to report creation, and simplifies the entire process.jr14quick

Moreover, it also features one-click chart conversion allowing self-service users to rapid prototype their way to the perfect visualization to present their data. One-click charts features a toolbar for almost all of our charts, and users can easily click each one to see how the visualization fits the data selected.

Additionally, improvements were made to visualizations. We introduced new charts such as highly customizable back-to-back bench charts, among others. We also enhanced embedded functionality with APIs for UI customization, SSO, external controls, and more.

We’re proud of these major enhancements and our 95%+ customer retention rate says our customers are too. Our major overhauls to usability, visualization and integration have allowed users to enjoy self-service BI like never before with any embedded analytics solution.

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BI-Reporting-2017

Trends in BI for 2017 will be focused on greater self-service capabilities, more cloud BI reporting deployments, and the availability of better data visualizations.

Self-Service Capabilities Will Grow

When BI reporting was dependent upon IT resources to develop analytic models and create static reports or build dashboards, users had little choice but to accept the limitations of traditional reporting. And while many business decision makers still rely on IT and data specialists, they acknowledge the restrictions of the traditional model in a dynamic environment.

As leading edge BI platforms began offering self-service reporting, business executives and managers were able to reduce the wait time for reports and create ad hoc dashboards that outperformed static grids and graphs.

The exponential growth of data each year makes self-service BI reporting tools a vital asset for businesses seeking to make informed operational and strategic decisions.

The Move to Cloud BI Will Continue

With the staggering amount of data available for analysis, cloud BI reporting tools can provide greater agility and scalability while reducing data center and operations costs. Businesses can ramp up their BI reporting capabilities without heavy upfront investment.

Cloud-based BI platforms also have a performance edge when it comes to integrating external data that rests outside the corporate firewall.

This advantage helps when users seek operational insights requiring real-time social data from sources like Facebook, Twitter, or comments on an eCommerce site.

The Demand for Embedded Analytics Continues

As enterprises become accustomed to asking a greater number and variety of questions of their business data, users are continuing to demand more and better reporting and analytics within their existing applications.

Often times, the best BI and reporting solutions should not involve a full-blown tool but context-specific charts and reports embedded within existing applications.

An embedded analytics solution reduces time-to-answers, training requirements, and on-going maintenance costs when compared to dedicated BI desktops and tools.  With the right analytics embedded in the right places, users are inspired to act upon data insights quickly and impact business results.

The changes to BI reporting platforms in the coming year will make it easier to collect, analyze, and share data with greater efficiency and impact for business.

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This week Jinfonet was featured in The New Stack to discuss what makes a successful commercial application with embedded analytics. In this article, Darren Loureiro, Marketing Coordinator at Jinfonet Software, combs through the fine details of how you can look for a product that is easy-to-use and easy-to-setup.

Read the full article on The New Stack!

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Since 1998, Jinfonet Software has worked arduously to provide embedded analytics to enterprises with hopes that the light shines on the dark, and people are empowered with analytics.

We closely listen to our customers as we meticulously design each new release so that we continue to make JReport a staple product in their technology stack while looking out beyond the horizon to deliver awe inspiring features.

That is why JReport 14 has streamlined the entire report creation process while providing enhancements to dashboards, visualizations, and integration.

Quick Summary of JReport 14 Enhancements:

  • Quick Start creation with one-click conversions
  • Partial data or full data viewing options
  • Enhanced KPIs, back-to-back charts, and chart formatting
  • API for auditing and UI customization
  • Batching filters and joins across multiple queries

JReport Streamlines Report Creation

JReport 14 introduces Quick Start, a new way for building report and dashboards charts and tables. We believe that wizards and guides for report creation, while straightforward, limits you in your quest for creating the perfect visualization.

With that in mind, business users now select the data they want to visualize from their respective data source and are presented with a chart. This works in tandem with a new feature that allows you to convert a table or chart into any other visualization with the one click.

jr14quick

JReport 14 One-Click Chart Conversion

The process of Quick Start allows business users to create reports intuitively and quickly while allowing them to rapid prototype so that they can find the perfect visualization to represent their data.

Enhancements to Visualizations, Integration and More

JReport 14 also brings enhancements to to its visualization and integration functionality. For those looking to create their own charts, we have improved the design process for the creation of charts such as key-performance indicators and back-to-back charts, for example.

Additionally, JReport’s APIs are enhanced for better embeddability. Report template and UI changes can be called through APIs by the host application. We enhanced the developer workflow in design such as allowing page report creation from BVs.

jr14sp

JReport 14 New Start Page

A new redesigned start page provides a host of short-cuts which is also navigable from any other page. We hope that we bring more life to our product with ease of use, tighter integration, and a visual face lift to our product.

Check out everything that’s new in JReport 14 here.

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Jinfonet Software recently surveyed businesses to see how they are approaching BI and analytics both inside and outside of their organization. This recent report highlights that businesses are seeking to provide analytics towards commercial products and services. Additionally, the report reveals what type of solution is most desired by users both internally and externally as well as the most important features of BI & analytics features needed. Most alarmingly, we found that many businesses are struggling to fulfill the demand for analytics.

Read more about the report on TDWI Upside.

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first-look-at-jreport-14-640x456Embedded business intelligence (BI) allows third party analytics software to be seamlessly integrated within another application.

Many users realize the commercial applications they use access data that can be used for insightful decision-making. Specifically, embedding BI into the operational layer of applications allows analytics to work for you in the every day operational processes that drive key decisions for all employees– from individual contributors to the CEO. For example, sales managers can run process monitoring on sales staff metrics such as calls logged, win rates for the quarter, revenue per sales representative.

Types of Users

Embedded BI workflows are specific to the different types of users. Workflows are dependent on users’ technical ability or the importance of BI in their day-to-day job activities.

  • Operators: These users require analytics to perform their job. They may be field technicians or assembly line operators that require analytics for monitoring operational processes for alerts and to react to changes.
  • Business Users: From entry-level to management to executives, business users desire analytics to monitor their own processes and create ad hoc reports. While they are not technically adept with BI, they use it to optimize processes and improve performance through analytical insights.
  • Power Users: Data analysts, statisticians, or data scientists are the true power users of analytical applications. They are hired to explore and mine information to uncover critical insights to the organization.
  • Developers: These may be the most technically proficient of embedded BI users. They work to integrate BI into applications, create report templates, and fulfill complex report requests from other users.

Benefits of Embedded BI

Embedded BI really bolsters applications by allowing them to harness the power of their data through visualizations. Thus their benefits may differ from traditional BI applications, such as:

  • By embedding BI into applications, users benefit from a streamlined BI experience. They can operate BI from within the core application without switching to and from applications to complete a single workflow, thus improving productivity across the board.
  • One of the hallmarks of embedded BI is matching the analytical demand of commercial applications. According to our recent survey, customers of commercial applications demand embedded BI, which increases revenue from applications.
  • The bridge between insight to action is shortened. Since embedded BI links reporting to operational processes, data-based insights are contextualized and users can see the direct links between insight and action.
  • BI user adoption improves with embedded BI. Employees that are provided with analytics within the context of their applications are more likely to take advantage of BI rather than standalone applications. This drives the ROI of BI software since more users are benefiting from the analytics.

For more information on various other business intelligence technologies and terms visit our BI Defined page!

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