Jeff Pries

Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and other assorted IT miscellany

Month: April 2015

The Button


The Button.  Originally an April Fools Day joke / prank / experiment / curiosity, this simple and strange creation has become an internet phenomenon with countless resources being invested in it.  On 4/1/2015, Reddit announced a new feature, The Button.  The concept is very simple.  There is a button.  It controls a shared timer which is counts down from 60 seconds.  Pressing the button resets the timer back to 60 seconds (for everyone) and it restarts the countdown.  Anybody with a free Reddit account created before 4/1/2015 is allowed to press the button, but only once, ever.  That’s it.

And that is all there is to it.  A pretty simple concept.  Something that probably should’ve lasted a couple of minutes, maybe an hour or two, and then been gone, right?  Nope!  Instead it’s turned into a phenomenon which has been running perpetually for over two straight weeks with over 750,000 button presses thus far and no end in sight.

The is one additional twist to the button.  When you press the button your one and only time, your account is branded with the time, and a color, indicating what time you pressed it.  And others can see this.  This little twist has allowed for the possibility of an incredible amount of interesting data visualizations surrounding the enigma that is, The Button.


The circumstances above make The Button a really interesting data source.  It produces a constant stream of data (making real-time analytics valuable) and that data is time stamped and color coded based on how much time was remaining at the time of the press making for some very interesting visualizations.

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What is Business Intelligence (and Business Analytics)?

bar_chart_sketchThis is a question that seems to come up in one way or another quite frequently. And it makes sense. Being fairly new (on the main stage), these terms are not well defined in the public consciousness (or sometimes even in the heads of those in the field) and so there can be a lot of confusion. There are some out there that think that both are simply creating pretty charts somehow relating to data in some way and there are others that know that the rabbit hole goes far, far deeper…

Business Intelligence and Business Analtyics are both disciplines inside of a wider field of being a Data Professional.  Both Business Intelligence and Business Analytics deal with deriving meaning from data.  The differences between the two tend to stem from the types of questions each attempts to answer and the tools and processes used to answer those questions.


Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is the infrastructure.  Business Intelligence includes the gathering, storing, and summarizing of data as well as making it available in the forms of reports, dashboards, KPIs, raw queries, and other visualizations to answer questions about the past and present which are commonly used in decision making.  Some of these questions might be:  What happened?  When did it happen?  What did it happen to?  How much did it happen?  Business Intelligence catalogs the past and makes it available for future insight.


Business Analytics

Business Analtyics is the crystal ball.  Business Analytics makes use of existing infrastructure (such as data gathered in Business Intelligence) and aims for deeper insight into the data, frequently dealing with predictive analytics about the future.  Why did it happen?  Will it happen again?  What will happen if we make a change?  What trends can be expected for the future?  Business Analytics makes use of data to provide predictive capabilities.

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