March 27, 2017

Visualize your data and make it meaningful to your end user

Nikki Kononov

Web Developer, Tieto

“He who controls information controls the world!” - Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5 (1994)

Firstly, rest assured that we’re not trying to control the world through information and data here at the Data-Driven Businesses (DDB) unit of Tieto. What we are doing, however, is striving to bring value to the end user by visualizing data in a way that enables meaningful analysis and agile reactive capability.

Visualize this

I work as a front-end web developer at Tieto’s DDB unit. The daily challenge I face at work is how to visualize data, be it from our own hardworking data scientists or external sources, in a meaningful format so that the average layperson is able to rapidly extract value from it. Before I joined Tieto (roughly four or five months ago) I worked primarily as a front-end web developer, with a focus on UI and UX. I never worked with data as such, and had little idea upon joining the DDB unit exactly what sort of thing I was going to be facing. Fast-forward to four months later - I now have a good sense of what kind of data is meaningful to the end user. This is insight that I’ve gained from constructing internal and external prototypes for demo/showcase purposes. That’s not to say that I’m a know-it-all or anything. I’m well aware that there are still plenty of issues to solve when it comes to data visualization. So, let’s talk data, shall we?

What makes data so special?

On its own, data has no value. The value of data lies in how you interpret it and the uses you put it to. Merely possessing the data amounts to nothing if you don’t understand it or apply it appropriately. As a front-end developer, the big question I face on a daily basis is: how can I make data easy to understand to as wide a range of people as possible without it losing its meaning?

How does DDB tie into all of this?

Here at DDB we engage with startups that work with data or whose business revolves around data. Remember, using data in the right manner can reap huge benefits. For instance, Tieto’s headquarters is based in an Intelligent Building (IB) that provides us with all sorts of information. One of the coolest aspects of this is that the building shows me exactly where my colleagues are. I don’t have to call them when they’re in a meeting or doing important work – and vice versa. We can just catch each other when we’re both free. This is a perfect example of how judicious use of data can increase the quality of daily life.

In the same spirit as our use of IB, we are passionate about engaging with startups and helping them to build something awesome utilizing data. While it’s easy for big companies like Tieto to experiment with various tech innovations, it’s exponentially harder for a startup to try different things. There are constraints on funds, and limited access to certain data.

Access all areas

Here’s where the DDB unit comes in. Our key offering is access - access to data, customer databases, experts, etc. We spot the gaps in startups’ ideas and we fill in the holes, but crucially we don’t wrest away control. At the end of the day, the startups are still driving the car; we just provide all the spare parts to make sure everything runs smoothly.

So, what’s the main takeaway? The DDB unit is an integral part of Tieto, but it still retains autonomy. This is exactly how we envision the partnering of startups with Tieto. They have access to Tieto’s assets, while retaining their individuality. Our data, and how we interpret and visualize it, is there to steer the course; but it’s their hands on the wheel.

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