For all we write about Hadoop, Spark, NoSQL databases and the geeky IT-facing side of big data, what really matters is how it brings value to knowledge workers. That’s the point, after all, isn’t it?

Discovering actionable insights and finding new, data-rich perspectives to study and look at problems is the promise of this data age.

And it’s not only that, but it’s delivering data smarts to the people who need them most and, more often than not, they’re not data workers.

So when solution providers make progress in these areas, we can’t help but get excited.

Data Storytelling Goes Prime Time

Sure, the picture tells the story, but data makes the picture. And whether you’re an enterprise knowledge worker, Main Street marketing manager, scientist, or government entity that’s trying to serve its citizens more effectively, squinting at columns and rows of data is tough way to glean insight. Especially when there are tools to make data visual and to help you tell stories. Even more so when the tools are free.

That’s a message which has resonated with the users of Tableau Public, a platform for creating, sharing and discovering data stories. Since its launch in 2010, viz producers have published more than 500,000 visualizations on Tableau Public – nearly half of which were published in 2014 alone.

The platform now boasts more than 90,000 authors publishing 4,500 visualizations a week. We’ve featured some of them on CMSWire in the past, but so that you don’t have to track back, here is one more. It was built by David Murphy of Datasaurus-Rex  and looks at the patterns in Dengue Fever cases and mosquito breeding habitats in Singapore.

"This is homage to the 19th Century physician John Snow, who stopped a cholera outbreak by discovering a contaminated water well using data visualization,” says Murphy. “Using Tableau I could easily visualize and distribute data from the Singapore government to try and crowdsource insights on Dengue fever outbreaks and mosquito habitats.”

He adds that it will allow people to play with the data, request additional data points and ultimately help find new correlations and patterns to help minimize this diseases impact.

If you find Tableau’s capabilities compelling but are afraid to check them out, we say, why not give it a whirl? The download is free, there’s a cloud platform to host, share and embed interactive visualizations and a learning program that provides support and training.

Looker Gets Big Bucks

One of the biggest problems with leveraging BI and big data analytics is that by the time actionable insights arrive they’re no longer relevant. This problem wouldn’t be hard to solve if each one of us had a data scientist at our beckon call. But most of us don’t.

Looker, a BI SaaS provider that helps companies become more data driven, aims to solve that problem by helping us glean the insights we need on our own via self-service querying. It’s an approach that companies like Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, and Asana, among many other data savvy companies, have adopted and that many more seem to be interested in.

Looker claims to have grown 400 percent in 2014 and it plans to double its base of 250 customers by year’s end. It’s that kind of ambition that investors seem to believe in—Looker took in 30 M in Series B funding today led by Meritech Capital Partners.

“The BI market is experiencing a renaissance as data analysts and business users demand more than visualization and discovery from their tools. We expect Looker to lead the charge and become a dominant player,” said Rob Ward, managing director at Meritech Capital Partners.

SAP Offers Tools to Non-Experts

Looker and Tableau aren’t the only solution providers who understand that you shouldn’t have to have a Ph. D. to glean actionable insight from data. Yesterday SAP unveiled SAP Predictive Analytics 2.0 and new Edge edition of SAP’s Lumira tool at a user powwow in Las Vegas.

Learning Opportunities

SAP’s Lumira, you might recall, is a tool which transforms big data analytics into beautiful visualizations that inform decision making. The new Edge edition makes it easier for small and mid-size business to leverage its capabilities.

SAP Predictive Analytics 2.0 aims to bring predictive powers to more workers from larger and broader data sources like the Internet of Things (IoT).  The 2.0 edition is more user friendly via its features for data preparation, modeling, visualization, scoring, and so on. It also claims to be closer to real time vs. batch.

Like all things SAP, the biggest wins might come to current SAP users, of which there are many.

ClickTale Brings Impact Recorder to the Adobe Summit

There’s too much data, we all know that; so why wade through muck when ClickTale can place the gold before you? That’s our take on ClickTale’s Impact Recorder offering that is being shown-off at the Adobe Summit today.

The promise is clean. Impact Recorder records every visitor session, but only stores and analyzes the sessions that matter the most by distilling the data to the most valuable insights into your customers’ behavior.

Say, for example, a customer starts buying something on your site but abandons his shopping cart before he purchase is completed. Impact Recorder might be able to provide insight into what happened.

“Our goal is to take the guesswork out of website optimization and provide enterprises with actionable insights,” said ClickTale CEO, Dr. Tal Schwartz. “Instead of drowning in a sea of data, ClickTale’s new Impact Recorder enables you to store, analyze and visualize 100% of the most important visitor sessions, so you can focus on the information that matters most to your business.

So Many Tools

We suppose we’d get a boat load of every e-mail if we said yes, so relax, that wasn’t our answer anyways. BI is experiencing a renaissance, predictive analytics solutions are still emerging and many that are here have yet to come of age.

This is the age of abundance, full of solutions that are ready now and will yield predictable wins, as well as those that still have bleeding edges and can yield buckets of gold or….

It’s your call, we just write the news.