Ever tried to make sense of a spreadsheet of numbers - data that in its raw form can be a sea of complexity?
Sure, a bar graph or pie chart can do for some statistics, but once you start getting two, three or more variables in the scheme of things, it becomes increasingly difficult to 'see' meaning.
Enter BIS2 (Business Intelligence Software Systems), a three year old Wellington-engined, with a USA front-office marketing and sales company, that ironically as yet has no New Zealand clients.
"We make super graphics," says BIS2 development team leader, Jeremy Banks. Kiwi founders, chief executive Mukesh Gordhan and chief technology officer Andrew Cardno are based in San Diego.
"We provide visualisation tools that make it very easy to take the mass of your data and see what areas you need to look into." (If you haven't already, go and check here to see how visualised data provides knowledge).
An example is the casino industry, which the company has initially concentrated on in America as a "low hanging fruit".
Many gaming machines are software-based, with up to five different game types able to be played at any one time. Such games' appeal changes during the day, depending on a multitude of factors. By providing a supergraphic, or visualisation that shows its use, a casino manager has an objective tool to fine-tune their decision making process of what should be available, when.
In saying that BIS2 provides seven types of visualisations, it underplays the powerful algorithms and mathematics that lie at the heart of the interpretation of data provided by the company. Banks wouldn't be surprised if BIS2 has one of the biggest patent portfolios in the country, based mainly around the processes to create its graphics.
Its visualisations are one of the company's points of difference. "Other companies do similar things in different ways….but they're not as good," Banks says.
Another major advantage of BIS2's system is that its front end (the part that the customer sees and uses) is a standard Flash plug-in. Unlike some of its competitors which can take days, if not weeks to set up, BIS2's configuration can be up and running in a couple of days.
"Some of our competitors have to set up their bespoke applications on the client's desktop," Banks says. "We're also light on the database aspect of things."
By this he means that the company's competitors take their customer's data, manipulate it and transform it to their own repository. "We sit on top of our customer's repository that's already set up, pull the information out, and create a super graphic from that," he says.
Its standards-based system makes for easy interoperability with other computer software products, possessing what is known as a "RESTful interface."
In the meantime, BIS2 is partnering with third party vendors, who would help sell, configure and
"The job now is about getting more sales, with the airline and telco industries being more than suitable for our different visualisation types," says Banks.
"We can work with exactly the same software, and it's about whatever the industry actually wants to measure. Then we simply put our templates on top."