Wednesday, September 4, 2013


In honor of the upcoming Tableau Customer Conference and our recent partnership, I sat down with Rapid Insight President & COO, Ric Pratte, to talk about the partnership, what to expect from Rapid Insight at the conference, and how predictive analytics and data visualization go together. 

Can you talk about the partnership between Rapid Insight and Tableau?

It was an observation that a number of our very successful clients were using Tableau, and it was this observation that led us to build a partnership. We have strengths in massaging, analyzing, and predicting data, and we’ve gained a partner who helps communicate that data to executives and decision makers in a way that’s easily understood. It’s a very complementary relationship. We both share a common position focused on empowering business users to make data-driven decisions by using their data to look forward. Essentially, we’re working together to help people visualize the future.

We now have a Tableau page on our website that we’re constantly updating so that visitors can continue to learn about the power of combining predictive modeling and visualization, and that’s a great place to get more information.

How do the two products interface?

Actually our interfaces focus on the same methodology – no coding, and the user manipulates graphical objects, places them where they need to, and literally connects the dots to perform an analysis. We’re able to natively connect the output of data analysis from our tools directly into the Tableau system as a .tde system, as well as the ability to output to the cloud. The process is very smooth.

How can visualization enhance predictive analytics work?

Visualization provides the end user a better way to see the results of a predictive model applied in the context of a business problem.

For example, a heat map overlay onto a geographic region of customers who are most likely to renew, purchase, or enroll tells a much more powerful story than summary statistics or a table containing the same information. Visualizations are great for storytelling and physically seeing things in your data that you may have missed in a more black and white analysis. By adding a visual component to their predictive analytics work, users can make data-driven decisions faster.

What value does predictive analytics add to your visualizations?

It’s one thing to know where your current customers are, but it’s a different thing to know where your future customers will be coming from. If your visualizations are based on traditional data analytics, you can think of them as looking at what’s in your rearview mirror. Useful, but driving your car while looking in your rearview may not get you where you want to go. Using your data to look at what’s coming down the road will help you set a clear path based on data-driven decisions. Once you’ve predicted the probability of future outcomes, you can focus your resources accordingly.

What can attendees expect to see from Rapid Insight at TCC13?

We’ll be doing some short sessions with attendees so that they can see the entire process – all the way from data extracting and federating through the data cleanup and modeling phase, and ending with how to bring the data into Tableau for visualizations. We’ll show the contrast between predictive and non-predictive visual outputs to demonstrate the power of predictive analytics. We’ll have a few examples and datasets to play with.

We’ll be sending part of our executive team – Mike, Sheryl, and myself – and our booth will be fully stocked with chocolate, which are also great reasons to stop by.

Mike Laracy is co-presenting with Yale at TCC13. What do you expect from their presentation?

Yale has lots of and lots of data and needed to find the most efficient way to analyze it to predict donor behavior. Their presentation, "Fusing Predictive Analytics and Data Visualization", will be on Tuesday September 10th at 3pm in Annapolis 3-4. They’ll be presenting a case study on their successful use of predictive modeling and discuss how they are sharing and communicating the results through visualization. This will be another expanded example of the full process with the added viewpoint of the end customer and their experience in starting this, the iterations they’ve went through, and how they’ve reached success.

How can I learn about the partnership if I’m not attending the conference?

After the conference, we have a follow-up webinar on September 17th for everyone who can’t attend. It’s a co-hosted webinar between Rapid Insight and Tableau where we have some data analysts who will show some new examples of the process. It will be a good way to gain an understanding of how you can put predictive analytics to use to gain a competitive advantage for your business. [For more information, or to register, click here.]

Ric Pratte, President and COO of Rapid Insight, is a longtime entrepreneur with a history of building innovative software companies. He was previously the CEO/Co-founder of JitterJam, a pioneer of Social CRM that was acquired by the Meltwater Group in 2011. He is a father of two, an avid skier and backpacker, and devotes time and energy to numerous non-profit organizations including Girls, Inc. and the Boy Scouts. You can follow him on Twitter at @ricpratte.

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