When you’re a large organization with complex requirements, finding the right data visualization and analysis tool can be quite the challenge. Brands today need a powerful and scalable solution that can handle disparate datasets, yet is easy for analysts to use day-to-day. With numerous solutions available in the industry today, it’s important to understand the requirements of your business along with the relevant features of the platform before investing both time and money.

But agile and comprehensive data visualization is well worth the initial effort. In fact, according to a 2015 report by SAP, on average, those using data visualization tools report it would take an average of nine hours longer to see patterns, trends, and correlations in their company’s data without data visualization. Working with enterprise-level brands on data analysis & visualization since 2002, we can attest that this is even more important in today’s fast-paced environment of the ‘always-on consumer.’

Additionally, the data visualization and analysis industry continues to grow as technology transforms the way we gather, utilize, and visualize our data. As a vendor-neutral advisor, we work with the leading data visualization vendors to ensure brands are educated on the solutions available for their specific needs. From Tableau to Qlik, and Sweetspot to Klipfolio, it’s our mission to be on top of the industry to advise brands worldwide. In this blog, I’ll outline three of the biggest data visualization challenges that we’ve tackled for enterprise-level brands.

Challenge #1 – On-site Solution

The Challenge: I have strict data storage requirements as we have PII, HIPPA and/or GDPR regulations, but I want to work with our back-end data. We need an on-site solution!

The Solution: As the industry continues to move towards cloud-based solutions, there are still a few on-premise options you can utilize if your data governance is strict. In this instance, you would be best off choosing a solution like Tableau Server. Tableau Server provides an on-premise solution that allows for full control behind your firewall, plus the added benefit of creating a ’single point of truth’ as all data sources can be joined here. With this solution, you can centrally manage all your metadata and security rules in one place. Finally, Tableau Server lets you grant very granular access in case you would like to restrict certain data sources.

So, what’s the drawback? As is the case with any infrastructure-heavy solution, the cost of implementation is high. Implementation starts at $8,000 and can increase depending on the level of complexity. In addition to the initial setup cost, Tableau has launched a new subscription model with individual server licenses that cost $35 a month billed annually.

It is worth noting that you can still purchase Tableau Server as a cloud version, which would reduce setup costs, but this option would no longer solve our original challenge.

 Challenge #2 – Using Custom CSS

The Challenge: I need to customize my visualizations to conform to strict visualization standards. I want to have the option to use custom CSS in order to meet my needs.

The Solution: If you have strict aesthetic requirements and your team can code in CSS and/or JavaScript, then Klipfolio is an excellent option. For example, if you’re an organization that publishes data you own online or in print, you want them to look as clean and attractive as possible. Klipfolio has many data connectors that allow for instant connections and joining. Additionally, Klipfolio has invested significantly in pre-built ‘Klips’ (or individual visualizations) and dashboards, so you can leverage these as a starting point. The main benefit of Klipfolio is the custom CCS editor where you can manipulate the look of individual Klips, or the entire dashboard, to best match your unique brand guidelines and expectations.


The downside here is that this level of customization requires CCS and/or JavaScript knowledge. Klipfolio also has a steeper learning curve than Tableau’s more intuitive, user-friendly interface. It may take more investment in both time and money in your analysts upfront to get them to build their first dashboards.

Challenge #3 – Multiple Data Sources

The Challenge: I have many data sources contributed by multiple teams. These teams need to view, collaborate on, and analyze this data. My large and siloed ecosystem is killing productivity. Help!

The Solution: For this particular challenge, Sweetspot Intelligence offers collaborative workflow and insight management solutions to help your teams work together more effectively. If you have multiple data sources that aren’t connected, Sweetspot Intelligence offers integration of your data from an unlimited list of sources, including both online and offline, to create a multi-source view in one place. Sweetspot Intelligence also allows you to request new data connectors if there is something you need that is not currently available. This is a reminder of the heavy investment they are implementing to grow this tool. To help facilitate teamwork, Sweetspot Intelligence also offers the ability to flag data points, chat with co-workers, and add contextual information for posterity. These collaborative features make it easier for cross-team interaction and increases efficiency.


The main drawback here is that the setup time can be lengthy depending on the current state of your data. For example, if your data requires extensive cleansing or lacks a consistent key to join, you may require more startup time to get your program off the ground.

Challenge #4 – Yours!

While it might seem daunting to find your perfect data visualization match with the vast array of options available today, it will be worth the effort when your perfect analysis tool starts providing quick & actionable insights to drive business decisions. In fact, organizations with real­time visualization are able to obtain critical information within the decision window 78% of the time, or 22% more often than organizations without real­time visualization[1]. So, what’s holding you back?



1. Aberdeen 2013, Real Time Data Visualization Report, https://www.necam.com/docs/?id=0cfb4a3b-0a01-4f0c-a5c3-a576f3307626