In a recent TED Talk, David McCandless stated “data visualization gives us a second language - the language of the eye- for communicating information. When the language of the eye works in tandem with the language of the mind (numbers, concepts, words) we start speaking both languages simultaneously, each enhancing the other.” Data visualizations allow us to communicate more clearly, see patterns and trends, and expose aspects of our business processes that were hidden, or only known by certain individuals.
While the idea of implementing a visualization strategy sounds appealing, what is not so clear is how to overcome the obstacles inherent in enabling an organization to make better decisions more efficiently. Without a robust and flexible infrastructure, many companies end up in a "sea of data without a lot of information" as one of our Enterprise customers recently described their situation.
One major aspect that needs consideration is dealing with securing any sensitive information that makes up those streaming metrics. How do we share that data with only the intended recipient and ensure it's not syndicated beyond that designated person, department, or role level? The other significant issue is how to broadcast to a large flat screen or a video wall in multiple locations across the organization securely, persistently, affordably, and at scale? These problems turned out to be trickier to solve than we originally expected.
With the knowledge and experience developed through years of meeting regulatory mandates, our engineers adapted the simple concept of pairing to solve the problem of providing secure access to Telemetry boards. When a Telemetry board is shared with a viewer device, meaning a browser, HDTV, mobile phone or tablet, that viewer generates a unique code which is relayed to the administrator. The administrator then pairs the Telemetry board(s) to the viewer using that code. The viewer is not able to share or syndicate that board beyond the single paired device.
This entire process is managed through our Management Console. In the Telemetry Viewer Panel, the Admin can see who is paired, if they’re actively viewing their dashboards, what boards they’re paired with and when and where they last logged in. The administrator also has complete control over what boards are visible on any viewer and can turn the pairing on or off at anytime.
Broadcasting to a fleet of flatscreens
In our early days, we struggled with finding the right device to manage Telemetry boards and broadcast them to large HDTVs. We tried using iPods and Mac Mini's, but they were expensive, and required us to manually switch dashboards or reset the device when the broadcast failed. Then we tried a Chromecast which was inexpensive (under $40) and easy to support, but it needed more memory cache to stream data intensive Telemetry boards. The best solution we found was the Chromebox. The Chromebox is powerful, affordable (under $400) and could be controlled via the Chrome Device Management software.
The Chrome Device Management software running in Kiosk Mode gives us the ability to centrally provision and administer 10s, 100s or 1000s of Chromeboxes using the Telemetry Chrome app. Kiosk mode allows us to pre-load Telemetry so all our customer has to do is press the power button and the Chromebox boots into the Telemetry app and displays their Telemetry board on the display. This is truly a pragmatic and scalable solution.
With these two challenges taken care of, our customers are able to display beautiful streaming metrics on their Telemetry boards and solve two of the more difficult problems organizations face as they transform the way they share and communicate information.