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Navigating Analytics with Voice

Many people see the use of voice in analytics as entirely arbitrary, and as an alternative to mouse or keyboard controls. Some think of it as just a gadget or gimmick to generate attention.

We don’t agree.

Voice has the potential to completely revolutionize how business intelligence (BI) systems are designed, built and used.


The Hard Truth  

According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), the biggest obstacle to using advanced data analysis isn’t skill base or technology; it’s plain old access to the data. Depending on the BI system in use, there’s often a process by which data is retrieved and then made actionable, and it follows a linear path such as, formatting, filtering and manipulation. To add insult to injury, each new problem has new requirements and unique aspects, which force the system user to reach back into data acquisition and preparation, and drive the amount of time spent in prep, up and up.

Making matters worse, is, as HBR so eloquently noted, the bigger demon that’s ever-present: data silos.

The majority of BI systems are siloed, and more often than not, each department or division has its own set of dashboards. In addition to this, as BI systems are for the most part structurally designed for specific groups within a company, there is a greater focus on function over data sharing, so each dashboard likely possesses its own predestined set of navigation paths.

Take the image above for example:

In a typical BI system, it’s possible to navigate within the Production Dashboard from A to B, and B to E, but not from D in the Production Dashboard to R in the Sales Dashboard, while still preserving context.

It’s also difficult, if not impossible, to cover the entire data pool, as the likelihood of navigating to every nook and cranny of it is simply unfeasible.


The Power of Voice

Enter voice.

The objective of voice in analytics is clear; to enable users to enter the data pool at any point; to have them access any other data point in any sequence; and to have the user’s mind, and not the structural interface of the BI system, dictate how the analysis is to proceed. This is where voice and voice-driven analytics become relevant.

Simply put, voice-driven analytics is the concept of interacting with data simply by using one’s voice. But there is so much more than merely interacting with data using strictly verbal cues. A voice-driven analytics system should, above all else, allow the user to find answers faster.

It’s generally acknowledged that there are multiple potential views (dashboards/reports/etc.) of many entities (objects represented by data) inside most companies. Those views often need to change based on where the user is coming from and what their role is, because each of those factors effects the context.


“Asking for product category breakdown when looking at sales data, is inherently different than asking for product category breakdown of say, production cost”

– Wayne Williams, CTO, Profunda Analytics


What this manner of thinking has led to, is a completely different design model when it comes to building BI systems. Instead of building interfaces to play specific roles in rigid, pre-planned structures such as this…

… Solutions are being built with each interface being designed on its own, as a stand-alone black-box, with a public API, that exposes the parameters it accepts, and views that it offers. Where any interface, can call any other interface, in any order, so long as it passes sufficient information, to allow the new interface to configure itself.

In other words, structures are being created that now allow users to ask questions across multiple domains in the logical order they would when analyzing data, rather than in a pre-defined order that was created as part of their BI systems.

By using voice as the primary navigation tool, and Dundas BI as the platform that powers it, this type of solution eliminates the need to incorporate scores of navigational controls on every interface. This allows BI systems to be built quicker than if traditional approaches were used.

More importantly, this allows users to find answers much faster.


Putting Voice-Driven Analytics into Context

It is important to understand that the usage of voice or natural language to ask questions is not a unique concept within BI systems. Rather, it is the power of the aforementioned specific type of solution that allows you to carry the context of your first question, into the next question and so forth. These types of voice-driven analytics solutions are incredibly valuable as they don’t require users to begin their analysis from scratch as they dive deeper into the analytical process.

Besides breaking navigation barriers, these voice-driven analytics solutions present other benefits, such as enabling users to ask complex questions that normally would require extensive pointing-and-clicking and occasionally additional data prep that can’t be easily done on the visual interface.

The ability to keep the context as you keep on asking deeper questions along with those other benefits is what renders these solutions to be so powerful – want to see it in action and better understand how it works?

Watch our recent webinar to see this powerful, voice-driven analytics solution in action.


Voice-Driven Analytics with Profunda Analytics

Profunda Analytics is on a mission to provide business analytics solutions that are as powerful in the hands of the average user, as they are in the hands of a data analyst.

This Ottawa, Canada based company is a small start-up that was founded by two BI veterans (Wayne Williams and Samantha Fulton) who have extensive backgrounds in data processing, data quality, and advanced analytics. Their interests extend far beyond their main industry experiences (healthcare and manufacturing), with both possessing innate fascination in advanced interfaces, particularly those that involve voice-control and virtual reality.

Their flagship product, Profunda, has leveraged the extensible Dundas BI platform to create a voice-driven analytics system. A system that empowers anyone to interact with BI systems in the way that their human mind works. This system deals with treatment efficacy, causal relationships, behavioral analytics, text mining and more, while simultaneously focusing on self-service analytics and its streams that include training, architectural design and online support.


“Finally, we have the ability to weave advanced analytics into everyday interfaces, to make them a routine part of our daily tasks – that’s why we created Profunda”

– Wayne Williams, CTO, Profunda Analytics


End users can ask Profunda questions verbally (or type them), and the system draws the answers in charts, tables, etc., or performs comparisons, simulations, predictions, etc., on the user’s behalf. Whether you require operational analytics with write-backs to transaction systems, behavioral analytics, causal relationships, or text mining, Profunda uses Dundas BI to put actionable insights directly into your hands (or voice).

Dundas Data Visualization, Inc.
500-250 Ferrand Drive
Toronto, ON, Canada
M3C 3G8

North America: 1.800.463.1492
International: 1.416.467.5100

Dundas Support Hours: 7am-6pm, ET, Mon-Fri

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