Sidebar: Bad Data Can't Hide

Halliburton's energy services group uses Spotfire's DecisionSite to quickly knock out suspect data. The visual analysis tool easily links to multiple data sources, such as well seismic readings, which makes it easy to cull the statistical outliers or out-of-range readings in 3 million lines of data, says Judy Tiffin, U.S. business and marketing analyst at Halliburton. Previously, analysts spent hours sifting through log data for bad readings. "The log analysts love this [capability]; it saves them half a day," says Tiffin.

Halliburton wanted to find faulty information, but data quality problems may prevent other organizations from quickly adopting visualization tools. "Data quality and users' skills in understanding and applying the results are still big barriers," says Gartner analyst Bill Hostmann.

Indeed, the tools inherently hunt out the data flyspecks. "However information is surfaced -- whether in reports or visual analysis or scorecards -- data quality issues are surfaced with it," says Christopher Oven, BI product marketing manager at Cognos. Just identifying the problem areas makes errors easier to find and fix, he adds. And the problems are typically less severe because organizations mature enough to use the visualization tools have usually already addressed data quality.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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