- Ideas, tools, best practices about visual storytelling with corporate data - Ideas, tools, best practices about data storytelling

Tidemark launches the first data storytelling tool for Corporate Performance Management

Posted on Saturday, May 3rd 2014

Did you ever think your CFO would be able to tell great stories? Did you ever think financial data could be sexy enough to be in visual infographics? Yes is the answer to both questions, thanks to Tidemark. Tidemark is a young Corporate Performance Management software vendor developing a suite of products, available in the cloud, used by large and medium size companies for budget, forecasting, operations, reporting… and they just released a financial data storytelling function.

Tidemark launches the first data storytelling tool for Corporate Performance Management
Tidemark is a young company, but not born from young founders ☺ specially if you count in years of experience in CPM industry.
The founding team includes Christian Gheorghe (Outlooksoft, SAP), Phil Wilmington (Peoplesoft, Outlooksoft), Tony Rizzo (Hyperion, Outlooksoft, SAP), Caroline Japic (Hyperion), Jérôme Lefebvre (Outlooksoft, Microsoft, IBM), Scott Fitzharris (SAP, Outlooksoft)… so it seems all the old Outlooksoft team is back, to create the new era of Corporate Performance Management Software.

We focus in this blog on data storytelling. And if I write about Tidemark today, it’s because they just launched a new function, called Tidemark Storylines, which is the first integration of data storytelling in corporate management software I ever saw.

A storyline in Tidemark is a compilation of infographics; each infographic is a visual representation of a data set. It can be a bar, an icon, or a line… It can be one datum, a KPI or a more complex calculation. These infographics are called "nuggets" in Tidemark. And nuggets are available in a nugget’s library. Companies can create their storylines by assembling nuggets; they can create their own nuggets but it’s reserved for advanced users.
The same storylines are available in a web browser (Tidemark use HTML5, it means users can use PC or Mac) and on iPad. Storylines are like all "infographics" you find on the web, vertical, formatted to fit on an iPad screen. But, when you use it on a notebook; for example, it will use only the center of the screen and you need to scroll. Tidemark did not yet develop a horizontal view of storylines.

You can have multiple storylines available inside the same application to answer needs of different people CFO, CMO, HR.

Tidemark launches the first data storytelling tool for Corporate Performance Management
The storyline is only the first step of the story. When you click or tap on a KPI, you go deeper inside data. The second step is more common. You can drill down inside a KPI. But, you keep on the screen the details of your navigation. It's a drill down where you keep on the screen all the steps of your mining operation. For example, if you begin with the revenue by region; you click on Texas to get the detail by sales rep; and click on John Doe to get the detail by product. On the screen you will keep the global graphic for US, the graphic for Texas, the graphic for John Doe by product... You always remember your way from the first global figure to the detail you discovered.

To promote collaboration, people can add comments to a storyline and they will appear under each infographic.

Storyline wants to be a real storytelling tool. And Tidemark is using it actually internally as a storytelling tool twice a month for corporate meetings. It's a really new way to share stories inside a company for recurring meetings, mixing narration and interaction. It can replace boring PowerPoint presentation.

Of course, Tidemark Storylines is a first version. Not yet perfect. But as a first jump for CPM software in data storytelling area, it’s a pleasant job, and a key differentiation with other vendors. But it’s a differentiation that can be filled when competition will understand the move. So Tidemark will have to continue to invest and propose improvements and new functionalities to Storylines.
Customization of storylines in Tidemark is not yet really business people oriented. You will need an advanced user to choose between parameters and modify standard nuggets. It’s not yet a drag and drop configuration tool, but Tidemark is already working on improvement of this tool.
Printing has to be improved too; and the way to tell stories. Actually, you can visualize stories by yourself on the screen and read comments. Tomorrow, Tidemark will have to imagine how people can tell their stories in front of their audience, include audio comments, and maybe generate a video to export the story to an asynchronous audience…

I am an independent industry analyst, and author, with 20 years experience specializing in business... Know more about this author

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