Connect Multiple Data Sources into one Dashboard to Discover More Insights

Mobile Man / Saturday, September 19, 2015

Did you know that between the year 2000 and 2009, the rate at which US Civil engineering doctorates were awarded followed the same rise per capita as the consumption of mozzarella cheese. So, this shows that on completing their studies, budding civil engineers develop a love of authentic Italian pizzas...right?


The challenge of big data is, and always has been, finding causation between events. There are plenty of examples of unrelated correlations like the one above here, and it’s crucial to be able to prove that one event caused another. 

When Google Flu Trends (GFT) first emerged in 2008 it amazed spectators with its ability to predict flu outbreaks purely by collating real-time search terms related to flu symptoms. Google claimed to be more responsive and quicker at discovering trends than health providers to track outbreaks. Yet after a few years of incorrect predictions, Flu Trends was canned, and its results discounted. However, as an article in The Atlantic noted, when data from GFT and US Centers for Disease Control were combined, predictions of flu outbreaks actually became more accurate than ever before.

Businesses can learn a lot from the above two examples. So often, data is held in silos in different parts of the organization and companies make major decisions based on false correlations, incomplete figures and incorrect analysis. Fortunately, ReportPlus can help you avoid this kind of mistake.

Disconnected databases

Even the smallest organization will typically use a number of different platforms for storing and analyzing a whole lot of data. These might include:

  • Content Managers (SharePoint, Dropbox etc.)
  • Customer Relationship Managers (MS Dynamics, Salesforce)
  • Datastores (SQL server, Oracle etc.)
  • Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter)
  • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Flurry etc.)
  • Others (IMAP Mail Server, MS Excel, UserVoice etc.)

Now, when used alone these data sources are great. Nonetheless, as Jack Johnson once sung, “It’s always better when we’re together”. ReportPlus allows any user (not just your data scientists!) to bring together and play with data from a huge range of systems - from SharePoint to SQL Server to Web analytics. It’s easy to discover and display compelling trends and make decisions based on real time data analysis.

OK, I’m me how it works.

Hilary’s hunch

Now let’s imagine our friend Hilary. She works as a fundraiser for an international charity based in New Jersey. The organization has a variety of teams based in a number of offices around the world, and while they all connect to the company-wide SharePoint, different units use additional systems to get their work done.

  • As a fundraiser, Hilary mainly uses Salesforce to stay up to date with her calls to donors. US and Canada fund raising is currently going great, yet EU fund raising has been down the last few years. It’s generally assumed this is because of the current economic climate in that market.
  • Meanwhile, the marketing team use Google Analytics to monitor engagement with the website. Worldwide, engagement is more or less the same everywhere - website visitors in all key markets love the site and its content.
  • Finally, the charity’s HR maintain a list of current employees in a SharePoint list.

Now, Hilary has a hunch that the organization could grow in Europe if only it employed more fundraisers there. But how can she prove it to her boss? She’s no IT whiz and with data tools provided by different firms (Microsoft, Google and Salesforce), it seems impossible to analyze the data. But then she heard about ReportPlus.

Using ReportPlus, Hilary is able to easily and intuitively draw in data from SharePoint, Salesforce and Google Analytics. What does her analysis show? The organization has in recent years reduced the number of fundraisers in Europe. However, according to Google Analytics, interest in the charity’s work is as high as ever in that market. The logical conclusion? Hire more fundraisers in the EU.

Hilary is able to demonstrate her arguments to her director in a compelling and convincing manner, without the knowledge that one might expect to source so much data. Interactive graphs prove her points, make her look good and help the charity make key HR decisions.

Data + specialized knowledge = insights

So many organizations keep making decisions based on unfounded hunches and assumptions, while others use selected data correctly but are failing to tie different sources together. ReportPlus provides an essential tool for bringing an enormous range of data sources into one place and intelligently analyzing data sources side by side to find key insights.

Many companies are literally sitting on a goldmine of data which, if used correctly, can help you discover trends that will change how your business operates. ReportPlus gives you the tools to get digging.