Decisions Blog

Archive for September, 2010

Data Visualisations

SAP (the company behind the BusinessObjects software that powers Talis Decisions) have a service available on the Internet called BI on Demand. A basic subscription (with limits on data volumes) appears to be free. This can sometimes be useful to experiment with visualisation of Excel data. Creating a visualisation from an Excel spreadsheet is a straightforward process:

  • Log in
  • Upload the spreadsheet
  • The system does its best to sort out the data and you can then view and amend a default visualisation in the “Explore” tab:

BI On Demand 1

BI On Demand 2

BI On Demand 3

The visualisation is highly dynamic: it changes almost instantly with changes in the drop-downs.

The other thing about this service however is that it can use a query on the Talis Platform directly so that for example it is possible to generate visualisations of Talis Prism 3 or Talis Engage data directly from the underlying store. Here for example is a visualisation of the frequency of occurrence of various Dewey values in the top 50 items in the library catalogue containing Magnetohydrodynamics in the title:

BI On Demand 4

It isn’t a complete answer to visualising data – but in some circumstances it may be another option to consider.

Publicising your Library’s Performance

Purdue University in Indianapolis, USA, have an entire set of library  website pages dedicated to publicising data about the library:


Note the buttons across the top which allow access to statistics about different areas of the library’s operations.

This particular example is a fairly sophisticated site, but it would be perfectly possible to prepare a set of “Public facing” reports using Talis Decisions and generate pdf to embed in a web page. Another alternative would be to output the data as Excel and use a tool such as  SAP Crystal Dashboard Design (formerly Xcelsius Engage) to display the data on your web page.

If you have experience of putting library statistics on data up for public display, we would be interested to hear of your experience – whether it was helpful/well received.

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