DeltaMaster: German engineering for BI

I was recently approached by folks at the German software company Bissantz and Company because they were interested in implementing the bullet graph that I designed as an alternative to most dashboard gauges. They also wanted to let me know that they already had an Excel add-in for producing Tufte’s sparklines, which I think are especially useful for displaying trend information in a small amount of space on dashboards. In talking with them, I learned that they have a data analysis product named DeltaMaster that has been around for years, but I had never seen. This morning I was briefed on DeltaMaster by means of a Web-based demonstration and I’m writing to report my impressions.

The people who developed DeltaMaster, especially the company’s founder, Dr. Nicolas Bissantz, come from the world of data mining and statistics. Based on a few emails that we’ve exchanged, Bissantz comes across as a man of vision, inspiration, and take-no-prisoners action. He sees the efforts of people like himself and me as new “guerilla style information…culture” as we fight to usher in the next generation of business intelligence. His enthusiasm is contagious–almost overwhelmingly so. In their effort to meet the needs of business people, the folks at Bissantz and Company have worked hard to deliver the powerful tools of statistics and data mining in friendly packages.

Despite the powerful algorithms that work beneath the surface, the interface speaks the language of business and presents functionality in terms of what it is used to accomplish. I was impressed by two aspects of DeltaMaster:

1) The built-in support for effective analytical navigation (overview, then details, with quick access to filtering and drilling).
2) The prebuilt analysis methods designed to pursue particular analytical goals that are important to business analysts in a way that hides the complexities and intimating math usually associated with statistics and data mining.

Rather than learning the meaning and use of pareto charts, parallel coordinates, etc., DeltaMaster’s prebuilt analysis methods are described using terms such as “Characteristics Comparison,” “Component Comparison,” “Concentration Comparison,” “Correlation Comparison,” “Deviation Comparison”, “Frequency Comparison,” and so on. I like this approach, which focuses on the actual analytical task, rather than the name of the chart or the statistical method that is being used. When one of these analysis methods is selected and data are applied to it, the results are displayed in a table, graph, or in most cases combinations of the two, based on best practices that are built into these methods.

DeltaMaster lacks some of the functionality that I find useful in visual analysis tools, such as small multiples (a series of small graphs that can be used to make comparisons without resorting to 3-D graphs, which are difficult to read) and brushing (the ability to display multiple graphs within eyespan, each showing the same data from a different perspective, and then select a subset of the data in one graph and have that same subset automatically highlighted in all the other graphs), and its interface can be improved somewhat, but what it does it seems to do well enough to deserve your attention.

My exposure to DeltaMaster has been brief and superficial. I can hardly endorse it based on such little information. It might have problems and limitations that undermine its effectiveness. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to delve into it deeper in time. In the meantime, however, if you’re in the market for a data analysis tool, you might want to take a look at DeltaMaster.

Take care,


Comments are closed.