Microsoft Data Insights Summit: Moving analytics from reporting to organizational influence

By Greg Tufano, Digital Analyst

“Reporting.”

It’s often looked upon as a dirty word amongst analytics practitioners—especially when the word “automated” isn’t in front of it. It conjures images of an endless queue of manual data pulls injected into meaningless charts that are eventually put to pasture in some sort of digital marketing executive purgatory, only to be reanimated at a later date by another starry-eyed marketer.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

At the recent Microsoft Data Insights Summit, attendees were provided a number of deep-dive sessions and seminars into the future of analytics, automation, and exploration.

With everything from tool-specific tips to ESPN’s Nate Silver discussing predictive science, the conference focused on leveraging the influential power of data in the new marketing technology ecosystem.

As a digital analyst, the steady improvement in data visualization and dashboarding tools across the market has demanded a shift from the aforementioned manual reporting aspect of the role into a proactive data storytelling approach. Whether you’re at an agency or an inhouse marketing department, these tools are empowering analysts to not only derive insights from numbers, but to become consultants to the rest of the organization.

At the conference, Microsoft rolled out new capabilities of Power BI, including integration with their new Cortana Intelligence analytics suite. Some other highlights from the day included speaker Will Thompson’s video game PowerBI visualizations, Nate Silver’s discussion of the signal-to-noise ratio, and data scientist and two-time jeopardy winner Wayne Winston’s analytics war stories.

Beyond the PowerBI-specific tool tips, the tone of the conference dealt with the movement of data practitioners toward using Jedi analysis skills to proactively answer business questions and take a strategic seat at the enterprise decision-making table.

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