José Miranda

3 successful embedded analytics trends to follow

3 min

Now, more than ever, the world understands the value of data and the infinite possibilities it gives to those who make decisions. If your company provides any kind of service, with great probability you collect data; and if you don’t have any strategy for managing it, then you’re missing out. The opportunities you can find in the data that your business’s daily activities generate can be huge and when you see the power beneath it, you’ll want to use it. We’re talking about giving your customers even better value based on their own data. We’re telling that you can monetise even more of what your services are producing. We want to stay simple, so today we’re going to talk about these 3 possibilities, 3 successful embedded analytics trends, and how you can achieve them with Tableau. Let’s see:

1. Improve your services with embedded analytics

Being free to implement your analysis wherever you want, is really a great help to achieve what your clients envision. You can embed Tableau Server or Tableau Online in solutions that you can then provide to your clients. This means you can build all the reports you want in Tableau and then integrate them into every product, service, web portal or app that you want. The power you earn to personalise your offering is massive and will make your clients feel they can have their own analytics instead of a standardised one. Beyond that, this functionality can improve your actual services or give them an extra layer, a so-called “extended product” where you can augment your service package according to the needs and wants of your clients or what you think may be better for them. So, it’s clear that this can give you great agility building personalised solutions for your clients and beyond this, you can do it while enjoying the best of Tableau’s capabilities.

2. Monetisation

Everyone praises data now. The market understands its inherent value and the companies who treat and monetise their data are the ones leveraging it for their businesses. Although it helps with making better-informed decisions, based on facts instead of predictions, data can become a service or a product in itself and there are a lot of options and approaches for that. After having embedded your solution, if your company works with client data and you want to give them insights using dashboards, especially the ones you build in Tableau, you can create products or services around them in order to monetise the insights and the value you can retrieve from those analyses. Moreover, you can give each client a personalised or standardised solution, with the personalised solution being more expensive.

3. Build vs. Buy

Of course, you could build your own solution, but buying is often the better option. Why? Well, if you choose to build, you’ll start from scratch and your solution will probably be based on a complex process that needs lots of maintenance and people’s attention to be focused on doing analyses and preparing reports. This means it will take a significant amount of time before you start adding value and besides this, the feature set available will always be limited by your development capacity.

Tableau has been on the market since 2003, so it’s clear that it has had tons of time spent on developing and perfecting its ability to build cool reports. If you choose to buy, you know that is the only cost you’ll support to access years of knowledge. Besides this, it will take much less effort, and setup will be faster, as you won’t need people to develop and maintain the solution because you’ll be able to direct people to focus on analyses and reports. Implementation will be way easier and you’ll be building reports that can be easily changed over time in Tableau.

Final Thoughts

Embedding analytics is a powerful capability that Tableau offers. Using reports that can be easily built-in Tableau on your apps, products or services can open a new world of opportunities where everyone wins and value is created. This is part of what digital transformation is about and we are here to help you on that journey. Take a look at our Tableau solutions and get in touch with us; we’re here to help you establish a strategy to implement the most successful embedded analytics trends, so you can use your data analytics in the right places, with the right people, in the right way.


José Miranda3 successful embedded analytics trends to follow
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Business Intelligence, the ally of decision makers

3 min

When we talk about decision making, we mean a course of action where selections are made from a range of possible scenarios to achieve a goal or solution. Every company is the path it takes, and while there’s no way to predict the future accurately, choosing wisely can have a huge impact. The truth is, behind every company decision there are people under pressure to make good choices using the information they have available at that moment. This means that to develop the best strategies, companies need trustworthy external and internal information to understand what they are dealing with and where they need to make changes. Imagine you are choosing between paper and digital? Rebranding your product or changing its positioning? Increasing your margin percentage or focusing on bringing costs down? Diversifying your offer or creating an extended product? Companies are built on decisions – and so is yours – and how can you make good decisions without good information? How can we ensure that decision-makers, such as C-Level executives, department managers, or even shift managers – people whose decisions have real impact – consistently make good decisions? And the answer is “Business Intelligence”. We’ll explain:

Transparent Data

Through its automated tools and systems, Business Intelligence (BI) can help decision makers by mitigating human error and the generation of inaccurate information. When you have transparent, concise data, your decisions are supported by solid premises. Many BI tools give you the capability to certify data, which enhances the credibility of your decisions.

Forecast trends

Gathering data that monitors company processes is useful for building forecasts that utilise analytics. These can help you decide on resources, strategies or investments by giving you market data such as expected demand or consumer behaviour.

Historical performance on time

With a well implemented BI solution, your company can get real-time insights on historical performance. In this competitive world, deciding fast and well is a distinct competitive advantage. Mitigating losses or making successful comebacks from adversity is something BI can help you potentiate with instant, precise information which you can rely on to implement accurate solutions.

Now we know some characteristics of the impact of BI, let’s talk about four examples where it can help you achieve your company’s goals:

1. Sales & Marketing

Using BI, organisations can explore sales trends or customer buying trends by analysing behaviours, choices and preferences. Comparing these trends against your customer personas, you’ll be able to rearrange your sales strategies, repositioning a product, rebranding, tailoring promotions or campaigns and maximising your engagement strategies to maintain good key performance indicators (KPIs) and leverage bad ones.

2. Inventory

The benefits of BI in supply chain management are well known. The supervision achieved by a BI solution can aid you avoid excess stock and exorbitant costs incurred from storing items unnecessarily. Management of items that have been in stock for a long time and get overlooked is another strength you can capitalise on. Furthermore, by analysing a product’s ordering pattern, you have the ability to build new strategies for that product and alter prices to achieve a better profit margin.

3. Finance

Finance is one of the most important subjects for an organisation. BI gives you the ability to analyse financial reports better. You are able to see current outgoing and incoming figures and compare them against past performances or benchmarks in order to develop financial strategies based on a precise financial status where KPIs can be easily accessed.

4. Executives

When a BI solution and a strong data-driven culture are properly implemented, executives can rely on the information that BI gives them. All the KPIs, forecasts, financial reports and statistical facts generated in visualisations and dashboards can support decisions about the future of your company to achieve growth and success or mitigate the impact of unexpected crises. Furthermore, this kind of information enables you to make well-informed decisions and act to improve overall performance.

Pensamentos finais

Decisions are made every day. Bad ones, good ones – but all of them build a company. We are what we choose to be and the companies we own are just as those running them choose them to be on a larger scale, supported by the spectre of individual choices. We know how important BI is to company decision-making, and the benefits a data-driven culture brings. Our Data Innovation Journey explains the steps you’ll need to take to achieve this, making everything clear and providing help along the way that you can always count on to aid your company to achieve its best. We strongly believe in the potential of BI to be the right ally to aid you with decision-making, because after all, it’s all about the data.


José MirandaBusiness Intelligence, the ally of decision makers
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Is my company Data-Driven? How to check your business Analytics stage

3 min

This is the million-dollar question, in fact, for some companies, it could mean more. While pursuing the path to become a data-driven company you can acknowledge the power of data to make the right decision at each point in time. But, how do you know if you’re on the right track? There are a lot of indicators and information that help with that evaluation. Knowing what stage your company is at can help underline what you must do to achieve that ‘data-driven’ title. This leads to acknowledging what it takes to get there from different factors: how much effort is needed, how much resources must be spent, or even what competencies could be missing. In the end, the idea is to efficiently implement this process and become more competitive.

1. How much do you know about your data and who needs it?

To take advantage of analytics it is important that you know how data will be inputted and what data is available. How is data stored for the main areas of information that you need to work with, is it stored in files like Excel or text, or is it contained in databases? How are such sources accessed nowadays? If you can answer these questions, then you have a good understanding of the data available.

Another aspect is knowing whom that data will be relevant to, who your end users going to be and in what contexts they will access that data. For instance, if one of your objectives is to get mobile access to content or data stored in the cloud, you need to know if your company has these resources.

2. How focused is your team on becoming a data-driven company?

When a company wants to go down the data-driven path, its people must be oriented that way too. Every disruptor must have sponsors, normally executives, who are open to change and who understand and believe the benefits of the project. These internal sponsors will be responsible for ensuring that business processes frequently include data analysis and act as enablers.

3. Does your company have all the necessary skills?

Implementing an analytics platform will require different areas of expertise, ranging from data engineering, visualisation and even setting up the infrastructure. Besides this, users will need training and regular workshops can help drive adoption. Start by checking if you have an analytics department and what skills are available. Implementing a data-driven path without these specific skills will be very hard and take ages to achieve. You can even jeopardise the whole process if you don’t anticipate user needs or simply don’t have enough quality data and undermine the confidence in analytics. This is something hard to recover from.

4. How can everything be governed and secured?

Last but not least, after analysing where your company culture is headed, after evaluating the data available and after defining all the players who will be involved, you must check how security is achieved and content is being governed. Is information divided by department or is it all held centrally to be accessed by all users? What can someone with a specific role view? Will they only see specific information or be able to access all content? These are examples of some of the questions you must look at. Nowadays, modern BI (Business Intelligence) tools like Power BI and Tableau have features and capabilities that satisfy those issues, which makes this job easier. With them you can give freedom to your users to do whatever they want; see edit and share content, etc., but controlled by what you decide they are able to do. In many cases, especially for larger companies, data is accessed to build dashboards and content that can be shared with specific roles across the whole organisation. Without a good governance model, it’s really hard to achieve a streamlined process where content is quickly accessed, updated when needed and safely shared.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes it’s hard to evaluate what stage your company is at, and this is why today we’re giving you some insights and advice. The term ‘data-driven company’ is becoming ever more popular and better understood in the business world, but many companies don’t know where they stand and what they should do. The actual steps you need to take will depend on your unique company setup and where you currently stand. We want you to know where you are, what you have and what you need to do, and this is why Xpand IT offers DIaaS (Data Innovation as a Service). We can help you evaluate, design and deploy a sustainable initiative to pursue and achieve a data-driven culture, making sure you have all the necessary skills available and someone with a high level of expertise assessing your needs. The objective and final outcome is promoting the success of one of the most important aspects of your company’s digital transformation.


José MirandaIs my company Data-Driven? How to check your business Analytics stage
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And the winner is… modern BI!

5 min

Why ‘modern Business Intelligence‘ is so important for your organisation in order to become more competitive?

Modern BI gives you the flexibility to build a data-driven culture where you can make decisions based on facts rather than guesses or assumptions. Instead of relying solely on EDWs (enterprise data warehouses), like traditional BI, it comes with a set of new visual interactive tools to tackle all kinds of tasks from IT to workflow. BI is no longer just a project; the goal is now a data-driven company in which BI connects data with its end users through ETL (extract, transform and load) and visualisation tools. What we want here is to demonstrate how modern BI can bring value to your company and we’ll do that via the following trilogy.

1. Accessing data

Connecting to data has become so much easier. Nowadays you can connect to every type of DB (database), to a set of files, like PDF or excel, and to APIs or data from the web with web data connectors, etc. You can do this from a BI tool such as Tableau Desktop or Power BI, which let you connect directly to these data sources. Think about it; many companies rely on Excel as an output for their departmental information. Imagine that you prepare monthly report files on sales figures. How best can you compare your sales performance for 2008 against that of 2018? Are you going to open all those Excel files? How can you build a sales vs region map by year? And drill down to data for every month? Well, fortunately, modern BI tools can give you all this. You get the capability to quickly connect your Excel file, or a load of Excel files (by joins or relationships) to Tableau or Power BI, which means you’re acquiring a real upgrade of analysis efficiency because in a matter of minutes you can clean, normalise and use all the data to build dynamic reports and dashboards.

Bear in mind that sometimes data isn’t completely error-free, so a cleaning process must be carried out, which you can do easily in the tools mentioned above with just a few clicks. However, if you have many complex files, which need to perform complicated calculations, or you want to join too many different data sources, you’ll need an ETL tool like Pentaho, Tableau Prep or SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) and a database into which your ETL can drop the data from all those sources.

2. Building visualisations

All right, connecting data has new fancy options and is now much faster, but the coolest thing is building the visualisations. Forget those old static charts and tables or maps. Nowadays, BI solutions give you the ability to construct every type of graph to display information exactly as you want. Using a single graph, in few minutes, you can create a visualisation by year with the possibility of drilling down to individual days; or you can drill down by hierarchies, for example, showing profit first by product group and even further until you reach profit by individual product. You have the ability to incorporate filters into your visualisations in order to be more precise with your analysis. You can build parameters to enable you to see different KPI’s (key performance indicators) by groups of products meaning that in the same visualisation, you can explore profit or number of sales or margin by product. Nevertheless, you can explore raw data by creating tables with all the information you need.

Alongside these cool attributes, there’s another important functionality. You can explore and analyse all the underlying data. Choosing a group or clicking on a specific point on your graph, you can promptly see the information behind the values. With this, you’re never working blind, and guess what, you can export these pieces of data to file. Using this functionality with the visualisations, you can do your own exploration and analysis in which you’ll be able to find trends or outliers and take interesting conclusions.

You arrive at a place where you’re able to create views that you can group in a super-dynamic dashboard full of filters and parameters that can be applied to all your graphs, tables and maps. With dashboards, you can create data stories where you tell a story using snapshots of a specific dashboard to communicate data much easier and more consistently.

It gets even better because after constructing visualisations you can then share them with everyone in your company and decide who sees what.

3. Governance

If the visualisations are cool, imagine how awesome it is to easily share content with anyone in your company. Tools like Tableau or Power BI give you the opportunity to bring all your content together in one place, divided by project or department. We’re talking about your data sources and dashboards in which you can create groups of users and decide their permissions. Imagine that you build a marketing dashboard and publish it via the online service. You have users in all your company’s different departments but you only want those in marketing to be able to see this dashboard. To achieve this you create a group called Marketing, add all your marketing users to it and grant them permission to see your content, while for other groups, such as Finance, for example, you deny permission.

The online service is managed either through a physical server or based in the cloud, with a high level of security. To connect, you can use login directories such as Active Directory, or you can create one locally. You can embed your interactive visualisations into webpages, which will refresh any time that you change the underlying data. Defining schedules and alerts is something you’ll find really useful. Schedules for refreshing data, for example, and alerts for when a KPI reaches a specific limit. Despite this, you are able to monitor everything: who has accessed what, performance, space usage, tasks, etc.

The best part of all of this is the fact that your IT personnel are still an important part of managing access to data, but with the right software, every user is empowered to view, customise, create and edit dashboards and reports or analyse data in far less time.

Final thoughts

As we said, BI is no longer simply a project. BI is a living being in your company. Imagine your company as a city and BI as a data speed highway flowing freely between every corner of that city. Scalability becomes very effective as you can upgrade your departments to the digital culture in less than no time or upgrade your old digital BI structures, which will then become even faster.

The given value of monitoring, making decisions, analysing information quickly or sharing insights between people and departments is one of many other strengths that BI can offer you, although business users become more autonomous to do so.

For sure, modern BI is a winner that caught the speed of our fast, competitive, changing world and earned its place right next to business fabric, and this is how XpandIT DIaaS (Data Innovation as a Service) became real. By defining your strategy, deploying, maintaining and supporting a robust data solution, and helping you build your speed highway, we can help you define the process of positioning yourself as a competitive data-driven company and of course, a winner because when you win, we win too!

José MirandaAnd the winner is… modern BI!
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Green Deal: 5 reasons to become a data-driven company

6 min

Let’s face the truth, sooner or later every industry will have to comply with ecological directives, whether they come from the European Commission or another organisation with a similar kind of influence.

In fact, as many of you know, in December 2019, the Commission published a white paper called “The European Green Deal”. This deal had the purpose of changing the way European Union (EU) and all of its citizens cherish our climate and environment.

It isn’t hard to understand that European companies will have to be the earliest pioneers and data-driven companies will most easily adopt such directives. Therefore, if you want to stay competitive and quickly absorb the coming changes regarding production or daily operational processes, you should give a data-driven business model a try.

Why? Because you’ll be able to analyse and take actions knowing exactly what’s happening with your day-by-day operations instead of just making assumptions. You’ll have data organised in digital infrastructures allied to Business Intelligence, Data Science and Big Data solutions.

For you to understand this better, we’ll analyse 5 points, but this comes with the warning that the deal contains an incredible wealth of information and here we can only focus on those parts that matter for the purposes of this article. However, we advise strategic managers to read the Green Deal.

1 – Clean, efficient energy

According to the Deal, 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the EU emanate from the production and consumption of energy by economic sectors; so in order to reduce those numbers, power sources must become built around renewables and must work towards being 100 percent digitised and structurally interconnected throughout.

As a data-driven company you’ll know precisely what is being consumed and exactly how much. For example, you will be able to understand if you’re using renewable resources or not, how much electricity is spent, how much water is being used or how much heating and air conditioning is wasted. Better strategies can be built by evaluating the consumption required by day-to-day operations and evaluating whether they are running efficiently and what resources they required.

2 – Clean, circular economy

Only 12% of the materials used by EU industry are recycled and, the extraction of new materials tripled between 1970 and 2017, is still rising and represents a global risk. Because of this, in order to achieve Green Deal objectives, the Commission want companies to embrace ecological and digital transformation and be more independent of the requirement for new materials, which are converted into products and then disposed of as waste or emissions. In fact, the Deal reveals that the Commission’s priority is to reduce the use of new materials and improve their reutilisation, reserving recycling as a third plan.

As a data-driven company, you’ll be capable of monitoring production lines and retrieving data in order to analyse the amount of resources used to produce any item or measure (in tonnes, for example), which materials are being used and how much waste is being generated. With this information, you’ll be able to redirect production lines to ecological purposes, using materials more efficiently and producing less waste or optimising recycling. Besides this, having a digital view, you can become a role model in your industry by developing efficient models and innovating ways of producing products in a disruptive way.

3 – Construction and buildings renovation

The rate of annual building renovations in the EU is between 0.4 and 12%. The Commission states that this rate must double in order to achieve climate objectives. On the other hand, millions of consumers fight to keep their homes warm. To solve this problem, the Commission will encourage the renovation of private and public buildings, tighten energy efficiency legislation around building and follow the circular economy logic by increasing the digitalisation of housing stocks. The Commission will also review Construction Products Regulations.

As a data-driven company, you’ll have the data analysis tools to give you insights into what materials are used in every project and where to use better materials if needed, so that buildings have lower energy consumption. Getting an intimate view of how construction is carried out and having data on the effectiveness of every material used, you will easily comply with coming changes on energy efficiency legislation.

You’ll know how to organise stocks efficiently in order to reduce waste.

As a company linked to construction, you will be able to design solutions to retrieve data about consumptions and energy efficiency to houses or buildings owners. You will also be able to build intelligent houses that climate efficiently using smart windows and temperature balance systems with air purity and circulation or houses with vertical garden for air renovation, humidity prevention and acoustic renovation. This applies to both new construction and buildings renovation.

4 – Sustainable mobility

According to the Deal, to achieve climate objectives, transport emissions should be decreased by 90%; and by transport, they mean all types (cars, planes and boats, etc.). To address this, the Commission will create a strategy for this challenge that strikes at all these sources of emissions.

As a data-driven company you will be able to control your fleet with devices that provide information on consumption and emissions for every vehicle. With this data, you can rethink strategies and change your fleet if necessary (from diesel to electric power, for example) or redesign routes to reduce mileage and emissions.

If you are a transport industry manufacturer you will be able to get consumption, emissions and efficiency data from your engines and others parts of your products, which will tell you precisely where something isn´t so effective. You’ll be able to understand the performance of your products and what to do to reduce emissions, even if it means less power.

The same applies to battery manufacturers. You’ll be able to retrieve data on the relative performance of your batteries and the exact materials that go into producing them. This will give you in turn ideas on how to extend your battery lifetimes or develop efficient production lines producing lower emissions, which could encourage your customers to switch from fossil fuels to electric fleets.

5 – Healthy, environmental-friendly food systems

Producing food pollutes the air, water and soil, affects climate change, contributes to the degradation of biodiversity and consumes too many natural resources when that food is wasted. Nowadays there are new technologies, discoveries and public awareness that can present new opportunities to producers and value to stakeholders. To change the way in which food production pollutes our planet, the Commission has developed a “Farm to Fork” strategy. Furthermore, their proposal defines that at least 40% of the Common Agricultural Policy’s overall budget and at least 30% of the Maritime Fisheries Fund would contribute to climate action”.

As a data-driven company you will know exactly how much water is used on your farms, how much water and grass your livestock require and amount of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics used, as well as many other important facts. This allows you to devise new ways of operating using lower consumption of resources and less chemicals in food.

The future has to be different, so it is just a matter of time before your company is forced to change its strategies and find new ways of producing clean, sustainable products. The data you get from your farms, vineyards, greenhouses, aquaculture, etc., married to data on your customers’ needs and choices, will become essential to helping you achieve the Green Deal objectives.

Final thoughts

We’re speaking about a massive transformation over the next 30 years, and we believe that companies averse to change will live hard times. Environmentally friendly, sustainable companies will be ever more valuable in the coming years. We cannot forget that new generations are growing increasingly aware of environmental and inequality problems. They are the ones who will force their employers and their parents to change their behaviours. They are our up-and-coming consumers and the ones to listen to.

Europe knows the future exposes new environment-friendly paradigms and wants to become the pioneer of these patterns, not only for future competitive and economical purposes but because it is mandatory.

A good way to discover where to go next is to know where you came from, which means that one way to understand where your company needs to go in the future is to analyse your daily data and understand exactly what you’re doing at present. You’ll need to be strategically well informed and capable of joining valuable information to help build future strategies and policies.

A great way to become a successful data-driven company is to get the help from a data specialist partner who understands Business Intelligence, Data Science and Big Data services, like we do at Xpand IT, and who can provide you with a DIaaS (Data Innovation as a Service) solution to guide you on your journey to becoming a data-driven organisation.

Your solution evolves over time and goes from those first steps of building and setting out your strategy, on to the implementation phase with its analytics and data science components and finally to maintenance, training and support services. You will end up with quite a set of automated processes, that will enable you to take more from data and in the end be so much more efficient; This is in fact a noble cause, as in the end, you will also be fighting climate change – and we are here to stand by your side.

José MirandaGreen Deal: 5 reasons to become a data-driven company
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