The service relies on a proprietary bit of code the company calls a harmonization engine, which looks at the metadata for common points across different data sets, zip codes or time periods, for instance. From this work, it produces recommendations that, given a data set, offers suggestions about what other data sets could be integrated. The resulting graphics, or set of visualizations, can be bookmarked for others to see.
While the original service was aimed for business analysts, the new Collaborative StoryBoards is marketed towards management and senior executives, allowing them to combine multiple contributions into a single presentation.
With storyboarding, a team leader can start a project and multiple contributors can add their own graphs and visualizations. Each member of a team can also comment on the individual stories. When all the data is collected, the work can be posted, used as an extended live dashboard of sorts and shared with others.
Pricing is based on an annual subscription model, including the amount of data being processed and the number of storyboard authors. A typical enterprise deployment may start at about US$50,000 per year
The idea of using stories to interpret large amounts of data has been a theme at the Strata + Hadoop World conference. Mapping startup CartoDB offers a way to visualize geospatially oriented data by overlaying that data on maps. Storytelling has been an essential part of this service, explained CartoDB senior scientist Andrew Hill in a presentation.