Product lifecycle data and DIY visualization tools

Product lifecycle data and DIY visualization tools


We live in a data-driven world these days. We are surrounded by data in our everyday life. Our ability to understand and analyze business data can be a critical factor in many situation.

Although relying on IT organization to provide tools and prepare reports can be a good idea, I can see an increased demand for tools that can help to perform some data visualization and analysis by yourself.

My attention was caught by The Next Web article Microsoft SandDance is a beautiful data visualization tool for chart geeks. Stand Dance is the latest project coming out of Microsoft Garage – Microsoft program to foster experimental products.

Simply fire it up in your browser, upload a data set (TXT, CSV and JSON formats are currently supported) and you can analyze it in a variety of ways. Whether you’re looking for patterns or outliers, it’s a whole lot easier to spot them when the figures are represented as graphs that you can navigate as you like.

There are a number of visualization options including 3D scatterplot, maps, charts and histograms. You can also select and isolate items, facet them along attributes and distinguish between them with the help of colors.

It made me think about some potential use case. Manufacturing companies are overloaded with business data in Excel formats. Contact lists, mailing lists, accounts, invoicing, market research, budgets, checklists, schedules, timetables: Excel is the hammer of choice for anything that looks like data in a business, large or small.

For somebody who is not afraid to make his hands dirty with data, visualization tools can provide a good help to find some trends or help making data driven decisions.

In case, Microsoft is not a tool or vendor of your choice, you can check out The 38 best tools for data visualization. You can also take a look at Five best libraries for building data visualization if you are in the mood to start writing some code.

What is my conclusion? There is an increased interest from people in manufacturing organization to make informed data driven decisions in their business activities. The demand is clear. The ability of most engineering and manufacturing data management systems to bring an existing data in and put it in work is very limited. Legacy data import is one of the most complicated projects during PLM implementations. Free data visualization tools can solve a problem, but also give a hint on where is the real pain point of decision makers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about Product Lifecycle Management? Check out my new PLM Book website


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