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Graphics Databases Programming Software IT

Visualizing Complex Data Sets? 180

markmcb writes "A year ago my company began using SAP as its ERP system, and there is still a great deal of focus on cleaning up the 'master data' that ultimately drives everything the system does. The issue we face is that the master data set is gigantic and not easy to wrap one's mind around. As powerful as SAP is, I find it does little to aid with useful visualization of data. I recently employed a custom solution using Ruby and Graphviz to help build graphs of master data flow from manual extracts, but I'm wondering what other people are doing to get similar results. Have you found good out-of-the-box solutions in things like data warehouses, or is this just one of those situations where customization has to fill a gap?"
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Visualizing Complex Data Sets?

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  • get rich slow (Score:1, Insightful)

    by it_begins ( 1227690 ) on Monday January 19, 2009 @10:55PM (#26524363)
    SAP's "German engineering" stems from the philosophy of the more efficient the better.

    Unfortunately, this means that it is much too utilitarian (and ultimately, why products like Peoplesoft are making headway).

    If you find that you have developed a good product to help with operating SAP, you can sell it as a third party add on. Many of the popular add on's were created out of a sense of frustration with the "mother product".

  • Re:Reminescent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gravos ( 912628 ) on Monday January 19, 2009 @11:00PM (#26524403) Homepage
    If you have access to a plotter, Graphviz gives you a great deal of flexibility with regards to how big these images can physically be. Maybe you could consider posing them up on the wall and having a roundtable session at your office.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday January 19, 2009 @11:03PM (#26524421) Journal

    How are you supposed to handle the data if you do not understand it? Sure, there can be too much to see/think about at one time, but if you don't understand it, how can you visualize it usefully?

    I am asking because I have a problem: Where I work, I understand the data and I make efforts to visualize it for others. The trouble starts when they don't understand the data and it's sources and limitations, so what they see in my visualization is all they know of it, and they make assumptions about it. I've even had people worry that the network is down because there were holes in the collected data which then showed up in the visualizations.

    If anyone has some good URLs for such thinking, I'd be grateful.

    I simply do not understand how you can visualize data for people if you yourself do not understand it.

  • Re:Four dimensions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SillyPerson ( 920121 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:26AM (#26525713)

    I'm sure it's my mathematics background, but when I saw the headline I assumed the author would be discussing something involving the square root of negative one, to which my response was, "Silly author, you can't visualize four dimensions. (Sober.)"

    You have a mathematical background and can not visualize four dimensions? Here is how you do it: Just visualize the problem in n dimensions and then set n=4.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @07:18AM (#26527035) Homepage Journal

    SAP is NOT a business application. It's a programming environment where you get to build and customize your own.

    Looks like you work for another company that tried to reimplement their old system word for word and step by step in SAP.

    And customization has a specific meaning in SAP that doesn't involve any coding. It appears you don't know that, which doesn't improve your credibility.

    A "good" business software package allows you to customize "it" to match your business processes.

    If you want that, don't use a package. Now I'm not saying SAP is perfect - there are some companies whose process certainly don't fit SAP. The solution in that case is to write your own from scratch.

    Make vs buy is an old dilemma, but doing both isn't really a good solution.

  • SAP MDM ? BI ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by obUser ( 1095169 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @07:51AM (#26527193)
    Since you've already bought licences for SAP ERP, you could get a bargain on the Master Data Mgt component. It also offers support to control the Master Data harmonisation process, which you probably need if you have such a large amount of data.

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