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Why Data Visualization is Essential in Your Business Reporting (Episode 140)

John F Bremer Jr is the Chief Technology Officer and Chief of Business Development at LiftedViz

He began his high-tech career working for 10 years as a linguist in the US Air Force and reserve. 

After earning a BA in Applied Linguistics, John joined Boeing Computer Services Artificial Intelligence Center working as a computational linguist helping to develop a computer program that could read and understand tens of thousands of pages of Boeing aircraft maintenance manuals. 

John enjoyed a 32-year career at Boeing working as a computer researcher, software architect and developer, and product manager. 

He shares many inventions and 5 patent applications for his work on production applications including:

  • The Boeing Simplified English Checker 
  • The Boeing Collaborative Document Reviewer 
  • The Boeing ATOM Augmented Reality Application for MS HoloLens 

John has a Master’s degree in Information Technology with a focus on cloud computing.

What you will learn

  • What inspired John to launch a data visualization company
  • Discover why data visualization is essential in your business reporting
  • Find out how AI is used in data visualization
  • Learn the clever approach LiftedViz uses when they pitch their services
  • Visualization as humans: why is it important?
  • John shares his thoughts about the Metaverse and technology that will change the world
  • Discover who LiftedViz loves to serve (and why they won’t just take on any client)
  • John shares his best tips for creating great data visualization
  • Plus loads more!


Jeff Bullas

00:00:04 - 00:01:58

Hi everyone and welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show. Today I have with me, John F. Bremer, Jr. Now, John is dialing in from Bellingham in the USA. A beautiful spot between Vancouver and Seattle. So now, is the Chief Technology Officer and Chief of Business Development at LiftedViz, which is a data visualization company. What does that mean? We're gonna find out soon but it's important to you as a digital entrepreneur actually to get the data you need to make decisions that matter quickly. He began his high-tech career working for 10 years as linguist in the US Air Force and reserve. I don't know whether he's got his pilot's license but we might find out about that as well.

After earning a BA in Applied Linguistics John joined Boeing Computer Services Artificial Intelligence Center working as a computational linguist helping to develop a computer program that could read and understand tens of thousands of pages of Boeing aircraft maintenance manuals. Now that doesn't sound exciting. So getting a machine to do that sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?

John enjoyed a 32-year career at Boeing working as a computer researcher, software architect and developer, and product manager. He shares many inventions and 5 patent applications for his work on production applications including: The Boeing Simplified English Checker, The Boeing Collaborative Document Reviewer, The Boeing ATOM Augmented Reality application for MS HoloLens, which has been used in Australia by the way I've heard.

So John, welcome to the show. I think we're gonna have some fascinating conversations around many things from AI to why do data visualization and how it can help companies grow. So thanks John, welcome to the show.

John Bremer

00:01:59 - 00:02:04

It's great to be here. I enjoyed listening to some of your podcast to prep for this. I learned a lot already.

Jeff Bullas

00:02:05 - 00:02:24

Okay, cool. I'm glad someone's listening to it. No, it’s good.

So John, the big question, burning question for me and I'm sure some of our listeners would be, why data visualization and then we'll start, why did data business start the company?

John Bremer

00:02:25 - 00:04:04

Yeah, well, you know, I mean recently we're at the tableau conference which is the market leader now owned by Salesforce, a big software for self service data visualization. And you know, they were saying only about 30% of companies in the world are data-driven right now and the rest would like to be and either they're not that far along on their data journey or they can't afford it. They're too small, you know, for the technology and the cost of it right now. But you know, data visualization is just a natural evolution of business reporting. You know, every business owner has their spreadsheets, they can read them, but when it comes time to communicate that information out to their business managers, to communicate it up or to venture capitalist, to make an argument, they need a better way to communicate the insights that that data holds and so the way that you do that, the way that these these technologies allow you to do that is they can vision, they turn the hundreds of columns into focus charts and graphs that can tell a story. And you know, storytelling is also a big part of visualization and if you do it right, then you can make a really strong argument and you can have a call to action and the, you know, you can drive the kind of change that you're after.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:05 - 00:05:00

Yeah. And so and for entrepreneurs especially is that they might be advertising on multiple sources such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. They're doing YouTube video ads and so in essence, an important, just some simple things that data visualization can help with and also trusted data that you're putting into that visual representation. Things like okay, how many impressions do I get from this ad? How many clicks did I get on this ad? How many leads did I get from this ad? And the big one is how many sales did I get from this ad? We can make it as simple as that. Couldn't we? So tell us a bit about how you see data visualization is important for that simple. Well that's as simple as it is really, it's a quick high level view.

John Bremer

00:05:01 - 00:07:07

That's a classic return on advertising dollars or return on advertising spend and you know you think about it if you're a marketing person is, you know, everything's cloud based. So these are all software as a service kinds of things. So that means if they're advertising on 10 social media platforms, they've got 10 logins and not only that once they get to that particular admin part of meta or of YouTube, then if they want to get to the analytics, they got to know where the analytics is. They gotta get down into the particular chart they're interested in and that was just one, they got to do that with 10 different ones and then try to tie that into their e-commerce platform, Wix or some you know which also has an API and into their Google analytics. I mean you can imagine they could spend six hours just logging into everything and doing screen captures and trying to like, you know, smash all that stuff together so they could get an insight is practically impossible. So just imagine if you can bring up your data visualization platforms and connect to all those API’s, instantly pull all that data in, you know, merge it, reshape it. One time there's products that do that, Tableau Prep, Microsoft Power Query, and that help you get that data flow set up initially.

Now you've got one-stop shopping where you can see, oh man what was my conversion rate on my dollar spent on Google ads versus Pinterest. And I think, I'm getting, you know, 30 times more return on investment on my Google ad than on my Meta Ad. I'm gonna shift some money over so I can drive better sales.

Jeff Bullas

00:07:08 - 00:08:08

Exactly. And the thing too is if you, and at the end of it one of the most important things in this is lifetime value of a customer. Okay, so not only the sales but okay so you might get initial sale and might be a monthly subscription service but then you need to know and as time goes on your data becomes better because then you start to understand: okay, a customer pays $39 a month for a service. They're going to stay for 18 months but you don't know that until the 18 months you're starting a new business. So if you know that your lifetime value by customers is $200 and it costs you $100 and so once you've got something like software, the cost of delivering it is just almost negligible. So you've got high margins in cloud based subscription software. So if you're spending $100 to get a $200 customer and you know that then you can go, well I'm just gonna crank up the advertising.

John Bremer

00:08:09 - 00:10:42

Yeah and I think, you know, it's not just you know, the first time you, as a company starts on its data analytics journey. It's not just data visualization that you get back initially. It's also a road map for how to get to where you want to get to because, you know, you think about what you ask for these different pieces of information, you want to be able to make decisions but probably your landscape isn't instrumented adequately for you to collect the information that you need. So for example, maybe you want to know what's organic and what's not organic or what's tied to a certain marketing campaign or what's a wholesale e-commerce purchase versus a retail. But you know you did all this advertising but your URLs aren't tagged adequately so that when the data comes back you can make those distinctions. So a lot of times what we're providing is we're providing the project management framework for data visualization for you to help you figure out what your requirements are, what the business questions are that you're trying to answer and how you can answer those. But then as we go down through what we call our LV 5D process, we will deliver you the dashboards that we can based on the data that you can supply us but we also can give you a recommendation for. Well, here's these other things you wanted to know, these business questions you wanted to answer and here's how you've got to go back into your infrastructure, into your ecosystem and instrument your advertising links and other things so that you've got the data annotated in a way that then you can answer the business questions that you want to answer. Plus there's always data quality issues, it's just amazing. People, you know, have their data lakes and their warehouses and everything and they go to do analysis and they discover that their backups haven't run for six months and there's no data there but they would have never known that if they hadn't tried to visualize it.

Jeff Bullas

00:10:43 - 00:12:01

Yeah, well as they say it's complicated. And your job as a data visualization company is obviously to make it as simple as possible. As trusted as possible. And also this raises the next question for me is and I've seen your LV 5D dashboard and for those of you don't have that in front of them. It means define, design, data prep, develop and deliver the final solution. So that's the process that you guys do. Well let’s get into that a little without making it too complicated

So you go and talk to a company and going, we're going to give you great data visualization but what's important, do you use AI to actually help you with that or do you start with templates for certain types of functions? Like is there a template for a sales and marketing data visualization? Is there one for HR, is there one for accounting? I'm interested about that. And also the next question being that is how do you use artificial intelligence to help you with this as well?

John Bremer

00:12:02 - 00:13:06

So artificial intelligence is there. It came into Tableau via Salesforce. So there is deep learning, it's not mainstream, you know, it's not something that's being really embraced yet but it's coming down the pipe. So you know and it's something initially that'll, you know, be for really big companies who have a lot of data and a lot of access to that data and your first question about where the value is. Can you repeat what you said?

Jeff Bullas

00:13:07 - 00:13:41

In terms of data visualization, what areas do you focus on? And give us an example of how you would approach a typical client. And I would assume they're more medium to larger clients but the principles are still the same for a smaller to medium client. So how do you approach the company saying we want better reporting, we want data visualization and that also because you're trying to solve a problem. right? That's what data visualization is doing, isn't it?

John Bremer

00:13:42 - 00:19:19

Yeah, yeah. So you know, if you're consulting or your training, you're trying to upscale, you know, people in their jobs and help them be more effective or if you're, you know, you're trying to go in somewhere and build the visualizations for people, but we never want to go in and we always want upskilling and reuse and education to be part of our consulting, you know, by the time we leave, we want you to be able to be data visualization developers, you know, we don't wanna, I mean it's a big part of adoption too, you know, you're trying to get the people inside to get max value from what you're bringing to them. So you want to help them on their data literacy journey and that means that that they need to be comfortable with reading charts and graphs and producing charts and graphs and their audience needs to be comfortable with it. So that's one of the first questions is where is your company on the data literacy journey? How sophisticated are they at understanding data, you know, because if this is like the first go, you want to keep it simple, you know, you wanna, you don't want to show them fancy charts and things I've never even seen before and they don't have there because you've got about three or four seconds to get somebody's attention or then they just turn off so that really insightful, meaningful, actionable insight that that dashboard is showing them. You want to get right away and no brain power involved, you know, you wanted to jump right out to them. And so that's part of the design aspect, you know, leveraging the salts and the pre attentive attributes and all that stuff that designers and graphic artists are really good at. But really the first step is in our defiance defined stage and it's very much like a classic software requirements activity, you know, you're trying to have, we have templates that we use interview templates to make sure that we touch all of the boxes that we need to know. But really you're trying to have a conversation with someone and have them go through this kind of discovery process. They think about their business and they think about their spreadsheet and they're reporting that they're using now what works and what the pain points are, you know, and because you're looking for an improvement and a return on investment for them over and above what they have now. And then there's a whole lot of other things that go into the recommendation for what toolset they use, you know, which has to do with what licenses that are already paying for, how much they can afford, what their distribution model is gonna be like, so there's a lot of things that go into it, but at the end of the day, you're trying to help them express and understand what their key business questions are that they want this data visualization to support, you know, that's the crux of it. And you know, it may be that, you know, somebody, some boss ordered this guy to our business owner ordered this person to like go do data visualization and you know, it could turn out that there's not a good business case for them, you know, but one of the things by following a really good project management framework is that you make sure that you don't have a lot of churn, a lot of scope creep and that you're getting this validation at each step of the way that you're doing some kind of some classic agile development things and you know, it's not rocket science, but it's like everything else. If you're organized and you focus on quality and you follow a good process and you have good people, you can have a better chance of a good result and that last step, which is the deliver is the one where a lot of people fall off and drop the ball, you know, it's really important when you get to the end of the process, even if it's only been six weeks that you take the time to train the audience on how to use this new artifact and that you check back with them. You just don't email them a link and think that, oh, I'm done. You're not gonna get adoption that way. And you know, you want to get future business and you want to get a good reputation. You want those dashboards, you develop to be adopted. You want to show that there was a return on investment for the money that they spent.

Jeff Bullas

00:19:20 - 00:20:06

Yeah. So yeah, process is very important. In fact, a lot of entrepreneurs forget that if you create systems and good processes that will set you free as an entrepreneur because then the team knows what they're doing. The system gives you the information you need to make the right decision. So, but let's wind back a little bit too. How did LiftedViz start? Because you're not the only person there. Tell us a bit about what was the original idea for LiftedViz. Did it come from someone noticing a problem and he's on the team? Or is it just like you saw a need that may be needed to be filled?

John Bremer

00:20:07 - 00:24:25

It’s an interesting story. So LiftedViz, we've only been going on for two years and we started because we had an investor come to Gina who is my daughter, she's been a consultant and worked for a Fortune 500 company and has been a tableau ambassador and a speaker. And had kind of a pretty rapid rise to success in the data visualization consulting world. And she teaches for the University of Washington data visualization program. And she got approached with some money and offered to start a data visualization consulting and training company. And her big interest being she works for Slalom and some other big consulting companies or consulting organizations within companies where there was no process. It was all based on talent, you know, the business model was we're gonna hire the best people, the best data visualization designers in the world. And when we send them out into these different companies, the Costco’s and T. Mobil's and Amazon's and Google's they're gonna succeed, we're gonna charge a lot of money and they're gonna succeed just based on their talent and their experience and that was always frustrating for her because she saw that as really you know inefficient and she's a math major, you know she wants just the right amount of process. Not too much and not too little, you know, not process for its own sake but process to drive success. So she said okay, here I'm happy to work on a business plan and we're happy to take your money and give it a shot but this is what we wanna do, we wanna really focus on project management for data visualization on data storytelling and good design and reusable templates and you mentioned the the different niche areas that you might work in. And really one of the most interesting ways to divide up the market for data visualization is by data sources.

So it's like do you work with QuickTime data? Do you work with Quickbooks data? Do you work with Wix data? Do you work with Salesforce data? And then those data sources kind of tend to define the kind of visualization that you want to do based on that particular spreadsheet or database table that's coming out. You know the dimensions and metrics that are in that really sort of constrain the kinds of insights that you can take from that and the kind of charts and graphs that you use to explore that or to, you know, we talk about exploratory and explanatory databases, your data visualizations, you know, one where you're making the case for something you're supporting a business. The answer to a business question in a particular action that's explanatory and then exploratory is where you're actually giving someone a tool where they can look for the insights themselves, you know, more parameter ties, more exploratory but it's a, you know, there's a lot to the whole landscape right now, but it's a lot of it comes, you know, when you sit down and you learn it, it all seems kind of like a natural evolution and a lot of common sense, but the devils like in the details like everything else.

Jeff Bullas

00:24:26 - 00:25:00

So let's get to, it may be a practical example, which we mentioned before, which is marketing and advertising. So you said that the data vision that LiftedViz would be the way that approach was, so okay, what are the data sources for that market? But you still need to pick an area, don't you like marketing advertising? You're going then you go, okay, where's the data sources for this? And that's really what you mean by that would define what you end up producing as a report and delivering. Is that correct?

John Bremer

00:25:01 - 00:30:05

Yeah, that's correct. So I mean if you're lucky, the customer comes to you and says, man, you know, we got a tough problem, we've got all these data sources and we're going crazy, you know, we need a focused view and and we need to be able to tell if one advertising channels outperforming another. I mean anybody that sells anything and advertises has that kind of a question, you know, to answer. And it's, I think it's easier now, I know at one point Gina worked was working for Nordstrom and doing a similar kind of application and data visualization and it was really challenging because they had television advertising and they had print and they had you know, all this, it wasn't a link coming in that you could track with your Google analytics, you know, you had to use a coupon code off of ad from a magazine, you know, which wasn't really that long ago. So I think now it's actually, you know, there's more opportunity to have better visibility, you know, on where your conversions are coming from and how your advertising dollars are being spent. And of course, you know there's big companies like you know Adobe and others that offer, you know, monolithic systems to manage all of that, you know, but they're big and they're expensive and I think the majority of people are out on their own, they got a marketing person, they got their e commerce site and there they just need to pull this stuff together in a way. One of the challenges is that these different data visualization platforms, Tableau, Power BI, Google Data Studio, they need to connect to the APIs and so first thing you gotta have credentials, you know, you're gonna go connect to your Facebook then you need credentials and most of that kind of reporting is probably being done on a monthly cadence. So once a month, you go pull the data down from everywhere and it depends on how often you're gonna look at it and how often you're gonna redistribute your dollars, you know, you maybe only do it once a year. So maybe you only need to look at the prior year and make that determination. But all those things kind of come into the requirements and go into your design. But the data is always the most challenging part and I'll give you an example on our tableau public site, there's two data visualizations for a local company here called Kombucha Town and they're a kombucha, a fermented beverage, you know kombucha, and they distribute nationwide and they had a big downturn during the pandemic and they came to us and said, hey we wanna make a pitch to our investors that are downturn was due to the pandemic and now the pandemics ending that we're making the, we're starting to climb again and we're like, oh yeah, that's great, we can support that messaging and then they also wanted better visibility on their nationwide distribution. Well the real challenge for that was getting ahold of the data because they go through these different beverage companies and grocery companies that distribute their product. So a lot of the data that they needed was out in the databases of these logistics companies basically. So it took us, I don't know, maybe six weeks of calling and emailing and working, you know, even though you have permission you've got to get to the people who can generate that data for you and send you a spreadsheet or send you a comma delimited file or something. And then you get all this data and I think there were 50 different spreadsheets and all in different formats and divided up. So then you have like this real puzzle to okay how do you put this all together in a unified normalized data source format in a way that's repeatable. So you can do it again next month or next year and in a way that the data is shaped so that when you visualize it you can answer the questions that you want to.

Jeff Bullas

00:30:06 - 00:30:53

So just, I'm not an expert in data visualization so I'm trying to understand. So we get data, raw data like spreadsheets. We get it from multiple sources and we get it from an API from Facebook or we get an API from Google then do you plug something in between to actually try and control and manage that multiple data. And then do you then provide the visualization technology after that? Is that the three layers data and an intermediary such as and that could be Tableau and then you guys provide the data visualization tech to put it in the data into. Is that how it happens?

John Bremer

00:30:54 - 00:33:56

Yeah. So I think you can think of two classic roles in the process that are on the, when you have the business people and the project manager but then you have the data engineer and you have the data visualization developer. Now they might be the same person but they are typically in a bigger organization and the data engineer is the person who is figuring out how to get all that data either through queries to a database but somehow getting it somewhere where the data visualization software can connect to it. And there's a whole huge industry of data connectors. So those typically are just a streamlined web software as a service that will connect to the API whatever it is and put your hand and then go be able to get that data and then save it out in like a Google Sheet or an Excel spreadsheet somewhere where your data visualization software can connect to it. But that piece of reshaping the data, so in classic database terminology you're either joining it or unioning it and you're normalizing column header names. I mean you can't if you've got last name and first name and two columns in one spreadsheet and this other spreadsheet, you've got whole name, you know, you can't union those together. So there's always this data cleanup and shaping and there's super powerful tools, you may not have to do any of that, you know, you may get a spreadsheet dumped out of a database that's absolutely perfect for visualizing. Or you may get these 50 sheets from all these different distributors that are all just a mess and they need a lot of clean up and the different major players offer either an integrated toolset like Microsoft offers Power Query that you can use with Excel or with Microsoft Power BI and that's a super powerful gooey base dragon drop fix your data up, different data sources combined graphically and it'll help you and there's some AI in that and then Tableau has a similar product called Tableau Prep and it's the same kind of thing. Once you've got the connections to the data, it lets you pull the data in and combine it and reshape it.

Jeff Bullas

00:33:57 - 00:35:19

And then after that that's what LiftedViz actually takes that data from that intermediary and then turns into a high level visualization report that you can make quick executive decisions because and that's interesting about the role of visual in being human. And so we talked a little bit about this and that. So was visualization really important because we as humans can make and you told me that it's because we can in a matter of milliseconds make sense with our eyes, whereas the brain still trying to work it all out. So visualization as humans, why is it important? And then the next question to ask after that is which is a little bit of peace, which is going to be about is Mark Zuckerberg going to change the world with metaverse, which is about us living in a visual audio. Well, I suppose, augmented reality world or you know, so we'll talk about that next. But let's go back to the importance of visualization for us as humans and what's important.

John Bremer

00:35:20 - 00:38:37

Yes. So I mean we can process information 60,000 times faster visually than we can in any other way. And that's because of our long, you know, 100,000, 200,000 years if you're in Australia, of human evolution and in survival mechanisms, you know, needing to be able to have a reptile brain that can assess the situation without having to think about it. And so there's a whole classic field of design that works on gestalt principles of visual processing and I wish I had a classic one, but one of the classic examples they use is color and they show a chart with hundreds of numbers on it and just all over the page and they ask you how many threes are on this page and you like hunt around and you try to find all the threes, you know, mixed in and count them. And then they flip to the next screen and they have all the threes colored red and everything else is gray and there's six of them and you know, in like instantly right that there's six threes. So that's one of the classic examples and of course the use of white space and a lot of other things, the way that we read in a Z pattern westerners anywhere anyway, from left to right and then down to the bottom left corner and across those are things that the audience can't even help, you know, so you're using these techniques in the way that you lay out the visualization so that when they look at it, they can't help themselves because they are not even thinking about it. Their brain has already made a determination about what's important and what isn't because of the way you presented it on the visualization. Those are the things you really want to take advantage of. And they're not really, if you've got a graphic artist on your team that and you're making the visualizations and they have all this training and they have this artistic sense. Then they can push back and say get rid of two thirds of what's on the screen, more white space, less clutter, less color, let's focus, you know, and less is more. And one of the ways that you can help the stem people out that you know the mathematicians and statisticians and scientists is you can give them a template that's already been designed by a designer and they're just putting the data in the places. But they don't have to make a decision about fonts and spacing and header size and secondary header size and colors and you know, so that they can leverage good pre attentive attribute use of pre attentive attributes and good design without having to know why it's good.

Jeff Bullas

00:38:38 - 00:39:01

And obviously then the use of different colors to actually make things pop. So and you might say only what, seven things on this page, that's it. I don't need 15. In fact, I might only need five. And what colors do we put them in and how much white space do we use? And it comes down to good design, isn't it? So and that can make the difference between a side sales page that works in a sales page. It doesn't work.

John Bremer

00:39:02 - 00:39:49

Absolutely. You know, and you cannot discount the value of aesthetics, you know, that it's pleasing. So even that executive, you know, who's getting this report pitch to him, this guy's arguing for more budget next year to his boss and he's got this, not only does he have the chart that clearly demonstrates that his part of the business is making a great ROI with the investment money they've gotten and they should get more. But you know, if that's attractive, you know, if that has a really good design and a really powerful message, it's gonna be like you say, it's gonna sell better.

Jeff Bullas

00:39:50 - 00:41:10

And you can change things like the color of a call to action button from red to orange and you can double sales, we can change the headline or you can change the font. So, or you can put a video instead of a static image. There is so much going on.

So now let's leap onto something a little bit off topic in terms of, well it's still on visualization. Now, Mark Zuckerberg's almost betting what was Facebook and turning into a virtual reality company where he's almost wanting us to live with headsets on. So what's your view on this? We had a little quick chat before we started, is he too early? That's one of the questions I'm asking. Are we all gonna be wandering around with sets and keep, you know, in our rooms and don't go out anymore. Reality versus virtual reality. We already have augmented reality, it's called a smartphone, which actually is in our hand and we can pull it up and pull it down if we need to. Okay so I'm interested, you're thinking on visualization because that's really virtual reality that he's trying to be saying, okay, I'm gonna put you in a headset and this is gonna be your virtual reality. How do you think that's gonna work out? And is he too early?

John Bremer

00:41:11 - 00:47:00

I don't think it's too early, you know, I think that there's, you know, it's not gonna be for everybody obviously, you know, because you mentioned the idea of going around with a headset on all the time is crazy. But you know, helicopter, gunship pilots have been wearing virtual reality helmets, you know, for years, they have heads up displays over the horizon. And I mean you can't fly an Apache attack helicopter without the magic of an augmented reality helmet because you don't, it's, you know, you're not capable. And I suppose if you think about Formula One, you think about, even when you back up and you're about to run into something, your car starts beeping at you, we're all living in this augmented reality world. And I think what I've seen working with Hololens and Oculus and some of the other ones as well over the last six years is there, you know, the hardware is improving at really fast and so that from an industrial point of view, that means that your frame rate is going up, which means that you have less seasickness. So if you're gonna keep it on all day long with with virtual reality, you need even more of a frame rate to be comfortable like maybe 120 frames a second with augmented reality because you have reality there, you could get by with a little slower frame rate without getting sick as long as you're not like in a roller coaster application or something. But I think the other thing that's happened with the hardware is there's this blur between augmented reality now and virtual reality because the thing that hololens did was it freed you up from the backpack because it's mapping the room with its lidar. So if you don't need these external sensors to map the room and communicate that back, now that's just the norm. And so augmented reality are doing it too. So, you know, I mean the virtual reality, so like hand tracking instead of controllers for example is like super doable. And so also virtual reality has see through cameras now. So even though you have a virtual reality headset on, you know, the difference before was virtual reality, you're in the dark until the application comes on augmented reality, you're seeing through the glass until the holograms pop up. Now you know in the high end virtual reality you're seeing the cameras showing that you can't tell if you're seeing through it through glass or you're looking at the camera. It's like one of those fake walls on a cruise ship that that's a big screen TV that's pretending you're in a balcony cabin but you're in the inside, you know, so I do think that it's already disruptive technology at places like Boeing and Mercedes and NASA. I have a quick great Halloween story about the space station. They had a water filtration system kit that the astronauts had to assemble in space because if they assembled it beforehand it wouldn't survive the Gs on takeoff. And they were having trouble putting it together. It's kind of like they had Ikea instructions to put it together. And so instead all they did just so simple is they took a hall into space and they had a model of the finished water system like the table was already put together and the astronauts could pull it out make it bigger, spin it around, they just said it right there and then they took the bag of parts and they copied it and put it together in space just so simple but so powerful. So I think the other one thing that we should keep in mind too, we're seeing in an industry like at Boeing is there's a huge amount of low paid under paid game people out there that are developing in unity and all the other big game engines that are the exact same engines that industry is using. And so there's a ton of of available developers that they can pull out of the game world and these game people come in there like they were getting paid $20 an hour and all of a sudden they're getting paid 100 bucks an hour, you know, and the game isn't like, you know, first person shooter, it's like first person mechanic.

Jeff Bullas

00:47:01 - 00:49:06

So is there going to be, so metaverse is betting on the fact that virtuality is gonna be democratized and in fact it's going to be available for everyone. And we also mentioned about the brain plug in that Elon Musk is going to do, which is basically allows humans to become superhumans because now they've got this plug in their brain that taps them into the world's consciousness and world's intelligence because the internet has been doing this for a long time really, actually the internet has plugged us into human consciousness globally, okay, and we can choose to dip in and out of that whereas the other thing too Steve Jobs with the smartphone of the Apple phone. He basically took a niche smartphone which was the crackberry, the Blackberry and made it available to the masses. That was mass adoption. So is the metaverse gonna be a niche product for a long time? It's going to be the right price. It's gonna be the right product. Will it be instead of goggles, will it be a set of glasses that Google glass trying to do about seven or eight years ago? So we live in interesting times. So we are actually already augmented as humans, we carry human consciousness global around like glasses, smartphones, we can dip and dip out. So I'm really intrigued by whether it's going to just be niche or whether it's going to be a democratized virtual reality. And I think that's what Mark is trying to get at, I'm gonna make it available to the masses and I'm gonna make it cheap enough. It's gonna have a compelling reason to use it. And I still think he's trying to work out where that sits, gamers can use it. Industry can use it. Great, but mass adoption, I'm not still not convinced that we're ready yet.

John Bremer

00:49:07 - 00:51:49

I don't know, I think you're you're right, I mean I think it has to offer something more than the computer, the phone and maybe haptics is gonna be part of it obviously as the cost comes down, we were just in Europe for six weeks, so I took like seven different plane flights. So I watched a lot of movies and I watched Ready Player One again and it's fascinating for me because it's like I've been in that world using that and you noticed certain things, but like the haptic suits, there's a new Netflix show right now or in Amazon, Peripheral, I think it's called. It's all about, you know, again, their virtual reality, but it doesn't have anything in your eyes, it taps into your brain directly. So it's more of a haptics when you play virtual reality, but you feel you have pressure, it's either the whole body or just the gloves. And it's really interesting, because your brain is so powerful. Like one of the classic examples of a haptic, the effectiveness of like haptic gloves is though, you'll be in a virtual reality game and you'll get your finger cut off and all the haptic suit does is give you a little shock, but you actually feel the pain of getting your finger cut off, you know. So yeah, which I don't know, that's a good thing, but in Ready Player One, I don't know if you've seen that movie but it the other thing that's really interesting about it is all these people live in a in a future slum and they all live in virtual reality world and they get to be their, you know, their sexy, smart best self in their avatars and one of the one of the most interesting things about it, I think from a cinema standpoint is now when you're in the virtual reality you have to make the virtual reality characters look like not like all the way human because then you can't tell if you're in the virtual reality world or in the real world.

Jeff Bullas

00:51:50 - 00:51:53

So it sounds to me like it could be addictive.

John Bremer

00:51:54 - 00:52:36

Well I mean I think, you know, I have not dealt too much especially professionally into the seedier side of virtual reality but that is like from what I've seen that's definitely, I'm gonna have it whole just like with the internet, it's the whole world because it's amazing. I mean how lifelike and realistic things are. So there's gonna be, I mean I think sci fi is happening so hang on.

Jeff Bullas

00:52:37 - 00:53:49

Well any technology will be used for good or for evil or good things or bad things and yeah maybe the truth sits in the middle, you know like gunpowder was created to actually help mine, you know, demining better but then it was turned into a weapon of war. So nuclear power is the same deal. So this is a challenge for us as humans. Isn't trying to adapt technology to serve us rather than us becoming a servant to it.

So just to wrap it up, but a very interesting area, this virtual reality and augmented reality and I just thought with your background, what you've been doing with hololens with Boeing and it is fascinating and it's got some implications for commerce as well obviously and entrepreneurs. Okay, so lifted beers, just wrap it up. It looks at creating good processes to help people make better decisions by giving them information visually. What's your target, but you have the most optimal type of client. Is it a certain industry?

John Bremer

00:53:50 - 00:56:05

So I think, you know, right now it's still bigger companies that have the return on investment, you know, that you have to have a big enough ad spend to make a return on ad spend dashboard worth it. So and I also think that upscaling is really the market where we've seen the most opportunity. People they really want. In fact, we've seen a couple of companies now. Data societies one and what was the other one meta men or something, but they actually like they actually have a program, you know, where they come into your company with an app and a whole like catalog of business analytics training and help you manage and track your plan, your goals and train your staff to help your company on its data driven journey. So that seems to be somewhere where there's some startups and venture capital companies going into it. So you know for us I think we're in the lead in project management for data visualization. I think that's one of our real strengths because I think Gina basically invented 5D. And it's proven out. And then the other thing we've been really good at is upskilling people in good design and and good template use. So I think the model that we're hoping to pursue is to continue to get more opportunities to host workshops inside of companies in addition to the ones we do here in our office and help train the next generation of data visualization developers.

Jeff Bullas

00:56:06 - 00:56:17

Okay. So is it, so number one is you go and consult then then the other one is trained. Do you have a tool that then is the dashboard as a software or?

John Bremer

00:56:18 - 00:56:52

No, so we recommend one of the cost products and a lot of companies already have Microsoft Power BI I for example because they have the stack Google maybe their Google Data Studio is free. So you know you can't afford to pay for the visualization software and then if you want the criminal a cram you're a big company and you want the really top shelf data visualization then you go with Tableau.

Jeff Bullas

00:56:53 - 00:56:56

And what's the good free Google tool because that's what people would be.

John Bremer

00:56:57 - 00:57:44

Yeah, it's called Google Data Studio and it's just part of the Google Workspace, it's one of the tools, it's right there with Google Sheets and Google Analytics and all those and it's great, it doesn't have the interactivity of the Microsoft or the Tableau but it's very effective and it has a great because it's web based and it leverages the whole Google permissions and all that. It's very easy to make a really effective visualization and distribute it in a really secure way for free. Yeah, for startups and smaller businesses it's absolutely the way to go.

Jeff Bullas

00:57:55 - 00:58:09

So John, thank you very much for your time. Is there any sort of words of advice regarding if you want to create a great data visualization. Any tips, just quick couple of tips before we go.

John Bremer

00:58:10 - 00:58:49

I would say, you know, take a class, take a workshop, invest in some training and actually build, you know, go through the process of actually building a dashboard, you know, it doesn't have to be fancy, but get some training and build something for reel and you know, because if you just try to like open up one of these complicated softwares and go for it on your own, you're probably gonna get frustrated and yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:58:50 - 00:58:57

So what you're saying is go and get some simple training from you to me maybe and then go and do it because you learn by doing.

John Bremer

00:58:58 - 00:58:58

Yeah, absolutely.

Jeff Bullas

00:58:59 - 00:59:23

Okay, thank you John for your time, it's been a pleasure. We went down a couple of rabbit holes. We had a bit of fun with that Mark Zuckerberg and the metaverse. His virtual reality gonna happen, it will, what would that look like? Well we're about to find out and we are in the middle of it, we just don't know it yet. Just like a frog in a pot.

John Bremer

00:59:24 - 00:59:26

I hope we don't end up like the frog.

Jeff Bullas

00:59:27 - 00:59:46

Yeah, no, hopefully not. Yes, so alright, John, thank you very much for your time. Great to chat and you live in a beautiful part of the world in Bellingham and I would love that. I need to do that road trip between Seattle and Vancouver one day.

John Bremer

00:59:47 - 01:00:26

Yeah, come visit around.We're having an early, we're going to get snow here. It looks like Monday and we're having a really early winter. So our snow skiing season is a big deal. We have whistler and we have mount baker right here, which is really famous. And then, and then we're big into sailing and boating here. It's lots of water. Hey, I really enjoyed it. And I'm looking forward to following some more of your podcasts I've really enjoyed listening to.

Jeff Bullas

01:00:27 - 01:00:28

Thank you.

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