Welcome to the Moneyball economy. With a fraction of a point separating competitors in this economy, the next strategic bet companies need to make to stay ahead of the competition is investing in applications that enable data driven decisions.  Using business analytics as a competitive advantage is a modern problem. And modern problems require modern solutions.

The last mile of analytics is broken – and we’re fooled by the noise
Think about it. You can ask a large number of your colleagues at work to start a fantasy football pool, create a plan and forecast who’s going to win in matter of minutes - reports, stats, and graphics with embedded collaboration so everyone can actively participate and affect the outcome. Where is the analytics equivalent in the enterprise? In general, we are mired in spreadsheets and antiquated tools for financial and operational planning and analytics. We have enormous books of reports that hardly anyone reads, dashboards that only a few people understand, and all of it is out of context. This results in incredible frustration for business users. They’ve been conditioned by their consumer experiences: simple, elegant and actionable interfaces, and they are demanding more from their enterprise experience. Without the engagement of these users, it will be impossible to align strategy with execution in the Moneyball economy.

And then there is the challenge of dealing with increased amounts of data and an overhyped Big Data industry. The few people with the power to provide analysis to the organization often fall prey to the tendency to cherry-pick what they think matters most and provide a subset of the data that fits what they want to believe. The larger the data set becomes, the harder it is to tell the correct story – we are fooled by the noise more than ever.

Frustration, not necessity, is the mother of invention
When we started Tidemark three years ago, we set out to re-imagine business analytics. At the core, my belief, shaped by years of seeking freedom growing up in a communist country, is that analytic applications that give companies a way to better understand their business and empower more people within an organization to make intelligent business decisions is a wonderful way forward for the enterprise analytics space. Over the last year we have introduced financial and operational analytic applications that are helping companies gain visibility, transparency and competitive advantage that is unprecedented.

Having put in place the fundamentals (analytical processes, a user experience designed for the business user, in-context collaboration, analysis, assumptions, and modeling that is mobile first) we turned our attention to the last mile – how to tell the story of what’s happening.

Born from the frustration of the antiquated and fatigued offerings for business reporting and dashboarding, we wanted to innovate and re-imagine what business reporting should look like in the 21st century. Freeing business users from tools designed for the era of green-bar reports and static, out of context dashboards and visualizations became our guiding light, and the cornerstone for our latest release of applications.

We wanted a new way to help companies create, tell and share their stories with the world. This democratization of information drives actionability and ultimately helps companies transform themselves to better compete, growing revenue and profit.

What’s the story anyway?
Today, as part of our spring '13 release, we are introducing Tidemark Storylines™  - an innovative way for organizations to create, share and impact their performance in the context of financial and operational processes. Storylines provide a way for everyone in the organization to tell the story and actively participate  in driving the performance of the company forward.

Tidemark Storylines are actionable visualizations that are dynamically generated - weaving together internal data, segmentation (products, regions, customers), unstructured contextual data (assumptions, comments, annotations) and large streams correlation (Twitter™, Bloomberg™, RFID data). This combination is used to create the contextual narrative of what’s happening in your business and what you can do about it.

These data visualizations tell the real story of vital business processes - Overall Company Health, What Happens If, Forecast Variances, Profitability, and People – and are grounded in real-time data that lets users instantly understand the impact of taking action.

Storylines combine visualizations with actions - the data set is composed on-demand based on what the business users need and how they want to participate. .

Even more exciting, Tidemark Storylines™ can be easily shared across the entire organization, bringing freedom of access and action to people that have never before been served by analytics providers.

As an example, telling the story of profitability provides:

  • Real-time analysis of company performance and the customers, regions, products and channels that are making the greatest impact
  • Dynamic control of how specific actions impact overall profitability with a visual depiction of what happens and why

And since most of the data that matters in today’s volatile market exists outside the walls of the enterprise, we also bring in external data and correlate it into the context of the story. Some examples include:

  • Correlation of external insights (weather reports, financial market insight, social conversations, etc.) with internal information for a holistic view of the data
  • Integration of assumptions, annotations and conversations to enrich the context of what’s happening and why
     
  • Tidemark Actions that allow users to go directly into the analytical process that was used to create the story and share the impact of their changes;
     

Here’s the entire Storyline and the Tidemark analytical process that generated it:

Tidemark Storylines further our mission to democratize business analytics by providing actionability to make intelligent decisions.

I am very excited and humbled to share the story that shaped Tidemark Storylines, and I am extremely grateful to our customers, our close partners, my amazing team and the support of our board in bring it to life.

To learn more, go to http://www.tidemark.com/storylines or follow @TidemarkEPM or me on Twitter @optian.