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OAW Storytelling Challenge: A Family Effort

This blog post was written by Oracle.


All data tells a story. And when Doug and Cameron Ross of South Carolina had the chance to pool family resources to tell a story in the framework of the ODTUG Oracle Analytics Storytelling Challenge, they jumped on it.

For this father-and-son team, data is only part of the story. There’s a family story, too, which we tell in another post. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into what the power of family and teamwork, combined with the power of Oracle Analytics Cloud, Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW) and Oracle Machine Learning (OML), can create.

Doug and Cameron work for Performance Architects, an Oracle partner headquartered in Boston. Together with Performance Architects Marketing Associate Autumn Morrice and VP of Sales, Marketing, and Alliances Jeff Wade, they rose to the challenge posed by ODTUG and cooperated to create the winning entry. Here’s how they did it.

The Challenge and the Idea

All contest participants were given the same data set, stored in Oracle’s Autonomous Data Warehouse. The data was sales data – comprising customers, sales, products, and other common parameters.

The challenge was to present the data in the most compelling way possible, using the OAC/ADW toolset. To do this, the Performance Architects team chose a familiar theme – one which would appeal to a broad cross section of people (and one that we’ve all been missing during Covid-19 restrictions): a brick-and-mortar storefront.

Doug Ross explained the thinking behind the idea: “The idea was to tell a story – the story of how sales were changing from on premise or in store to online over time, and how different departments within the organization were showing either higher or lower sales.”

The Execution

To tell this story, the Performance Architects team first applied the custom maps visualization, creating a map that resembled the layout of the physical store and populating each department location in the store with representations of sales data to better visualize which departments were showing the most sales.

Then, the team applied visualizations like waterfalls and calendar, and heat maps. To demonstrate machine learning functionality, they took a sampling of data and came up with kind of a model of predicting what other customers might buy based on patterns in the data provided regarding what was previously purchased at the store.

Then, the team leveraged OAC’s data flows functionality to cut the data down to just the US, since Performance Architecture is based in Boston. Doug Ross was excited by the simplicity of using this powerful tool: “Without having to write code, or be a Python programmer or anything like that, data flows lets you cleanse your data. It's all visual. Just drag and drop, and it can filter and process the data, and apply the machine learning models without writing a single line of code.”

Finally, the Performance Architects team applied a custom map feature to the new data flow. They found that they could visually present data on non-standard graphics in just minutes. In fact, it took longer to draw the map in their external graphics program than it took to integrate it into the analytics!

The Bottom Line

The Performance Architects team didn’t just win the ODTUG Storytelling Challenge – they had a great time doing so! OAC’s rich feature set made the experience that much smoother, and Doug Ross summed up the team’s affinity for OAC: “With OAC, you get three different things that make it unique. You get governed analytics – meaning you can have a centralized repository of common data elements and common calculations. Then you have the self-service aspect – so you can bring in your own data, create your own data flows, get the clean data sets you want without having to work with the IT organization to make that happen. Finally, there's the augmented analytics – including machine learning and enhancing data sets with artificial intelligence as you bring it in.”

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