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Over the last four years, I have been working with companies, customers, agencies, and partners around the world on the topic of visualizing data. 


According to Merriam-Webster visualization is defined as:

  • formation of mental visual images
  • the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form
  • the process of making an internal organ or part visible by the introduction (as by swallowing) of a radiopaque substance followed by radiography

Well I could apply the first one, but really thought this was more in-line with reading a book and imaging the characters in your mind.  When I was a child I went to the hospital for an examination where I was required to swallow what was described to me as a kind of yogurt that had dye in it.  The doctors told me it tasted like strawberries.  It really tasted like chalk.  So the third definition could not apply.  In terms of how you display data from several data sources the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or putting into visual form best fits our goal. I began to see the idea of using visualization in software solutions as data images that can aid the user in understanding the meaning of the data.

In SAP Public Security, we have been looking at new ways to look at data, and give meaning to the data through visualization.  More specifically, working with business use cases that give the end user the ability to identify, process, and comprehend critical elements of information about what is happening around a person, object, location, or event.  SAP has a broad and currently relevant portfolio and tool set that has improved our ability to produce solutions for visual applications.  This has given us the ability to enter into emerging technologies like Cloud, Mobility, Cyber Security, Big Data and Analytics (BDA) and Situational Awareness .  Each requiring visualization and simplicity to attract customers.  This year Public Sector opened up a new solution area called "SAP Real Time Analysis, Awareness, and Prediction".  A set of SAP solutions that when combined can provide the end user with key information in a visual application. Our first product in an attempt to achieve a better visual experience for our customers was the creation of Real Time Situation Awareness for Public Sector.  An application that can tell the user what is occurring around them, or give a super user the ability to see what is happening around a selected set of users.

Real Time Situational Awareness for Public Sector

Please have a look.  You will quickly begin to see how this method of using data to create a visual experience on actionable data can apply to your business use case.  It can be applied to all end users for all industries who want to better understand their data in a simple and intuitive feel. You can also have a look at our first co-innovation (PoC) with our customers, and partners to introduce a new visualization product using SAP’s latest and greatest technologies.

While we continue to provide our customers with better visualization, it is something not many outside of UI designers give a great deal of thought.  Please let me know what your thoughts about visual applications like situational awareness or let me know what use cases you feel would be compelling.

What do you think about visual applications?