Hands-On Data Exploration & Visualization

Learn methodologies, processes and essential tools for exploring and visualizing data in order to derive insights and knowledge. This intensive Hands-On course is developed by the largest organization of analytics professionals, INFORMS


What You Will Learn

Participants can expect to be re-introduced to approaching data in a powerful, yet playful manner. They will see and experience how exploration and visualization can be used to answer existing questions, thereby corroborating or invalidating hunches and preconceptions. In addition to directed exploration, participants will experience first-hand the power of data exploration and visualization to reveal unexpected patterns, trends and exceptions as well as stimulate new perspectives and insights.

During the course, commercial software will be used, which students will download onto their personal laptops prior to the class. However, this is not a software training course. Instead, the focus is on understanding the underlying methodology and mindset of how data should be approached, handled, explored, and incorporated back into the domain of interest.

At the end of the course, participants are expected to

  • have confidence to explore new data using the exploration/visualization approach;
  • be able to approach and deploy interactive visualization;
  • understand how to identify practically meaningful discoveries;
  • experience the use of state-of-the-art visualization software, and
  • think creatively about data and insights.  

Course Outline

Day One: Exploring Data in Context

1. The Larger Context of Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Analytics (BA)

  • Business analytics: goals and methods
  • Data exploration and visualization in the BI/BA context
  • Data exploration goals: directed navigation and exploratory navigation
  • Case studies: the power of data exploration

2. Why You Need to Know the Data Exploration Process

  • Data in context
  • Attacking a dataset unarmed
  • The challenges and pitfalls of "unarmed" exploration

3. Know Thy Data

  • Data sources
  • Data types
  • Data structures
  • Merging datasets
  • Samples and sampling bias
  • Data dictionaries and meta-data

4. Start Exploring

  • Using software: from spreadsheets and beyond (SAS JMP)
  • Getting an overview: filtering, sorting, summary statistics, and more
  • Detecting and dealing with exceptions: missing values, outliers and extreme values
  • Transforming variables and creating new derived variables

Day Two: Visual Analytics

5. Data Visualization

  • Using visualization for directed navigation
  • Using visualization for exploratory navigation
  • Interactive visualization software: overview of packages and introduction to TIBCO Spotfire
  • Basic charts and best practices (bar chart, line graph, histogram, box plot scatter plot)
  • Specialized and advanced charts (heatmap, treemap, map chart)
  • Interactivity
  • Dashboards and multiple views
  • Creating a data story

6. Creating Data Stories

  • Organizing information
  • Annotation
  • Sharing
  • Beyond visualization: dimension reduction in a nutshell (clustering and PCA)

7. Evaluating Your Discoveries and Data Stories

  • Is the "aha!" really an "aha?"
  • Who should care, why they should care
  • Implications of discoveries and data stories

8. Getting Started At Your Job

  • The right mindset
  • Following the exploration path
  • Evaluating discoveries and data stories
  • Getting colleagues and management on board
  • Determining potential data exploration and visualization benefits to your job
  • Resources for self-development  


Members - $795

Non-members - $995

*Discounts available for 3 or more from the same organization.   

Course Dates and Locations

New Dates and Locations Coming Soon


Cancellations - cancellations must be in writing and received 21 days or more prior to the start of the course. A refund will be issued less a $100 processing fee. Cancellations less than 21 days prior to the start of the course will not be eligible for a refund.

Substitutions - if you cannot attend you may send a substitute without incurring a fee provided notice is given in writing (please include substitutes' name) at least 72 hours prior to the start of the course.

Transfers - you may transfer to an earlier or later course date provided the request is received in writing at least 14 days prior to the start date of the course originally booked. There will be a $50 rebooking fee.

Data Exploration & Visualization

Students say...

"This was a real eye-opener for me...It provided an excellent overview of what is possible in the analysis of huge amounts of data, as well as practical skills for "hands-on" analysis. More importantly, it provided expert insight on how to pull out meaningful data from large data sets, and how to present those results so that anyone can understand them."

- Richard St-Aubin, P.Eng., IPEX Management Inc.


"Great course! I learned how to gain valuable insights through data exploration and visualization. Not just a tools or techniques class, rather the instructors bring their wealth of experiences in big data visualization and analytics to show how to analyze and utilize powerful visualization approaches in a wide variety of situations."

- Dr. Frank Armour, American University