For Consideration When Selecting an Intelligence or Visualization Platform

When researching and selecting an intelligence of visualization platform, I believe there are at least five primary things to take into consideration. They all evolve around what you need the platform to do for you.

The first thing is a given and about 99% of any platform out there will have it: visualization or graphical representation of the data. You should ask yourself if this is a requirement, most likely the answer is yes. Which won’t be hard to accommodate.

The second is what analysis capabilities are offered. Before you can informatively decide on required capabilities, you must first understand what some of the key capabilities are. Once you know this, you’ll want to dive in to how they are leveraged, how they can best serve you, if the capabilities truly offer insight, and if you’ll even take advantage of them.

Three capabilities that I always found myself reaching for no matter the data or investigation were social network analysis (SNA), bar charts and histograms with filtering, and timeline analysis.

Some platforms out there have over 20 analysis capabilities. This all sounds great, if you are actively using them. So be sure to ask yourself if your organization is going to leverage all the resources the platform has to offer. There plenty of platforms out there to choose from that will align with your needs.

The third consideration is reporting and dissemination of your analysis. Some questions to toss around include: Does the platform allow you an easy and coherent way to export and share information? Is this even a requirement? If yes, what formats are desired?

The fourth thing to inquire about is a repository. This is often an overlooked capability that a platform may offer but is a very valuable. As you are collecting and consolidating data from various sources while deeming it pertinent and forming intelligence, many platforms allow you to save that information but it’s just like any other stagnant document saved within a shared file or network somewhere. Most of it is lost or unable to be leveraged by the extended team. Historical intelligence can jump start an investigation and often very helpful. I prefer a collaborative repository that also indexes all the context that may be searched upon using fuzzy matching capabilities.

The fifth thing for consideration when selecting a platform best for your organization is collaboration. More so specifically pertaining to what I mentioned above in regards to the intelligence repository. Do you want to be able to work in conjunction with your team no matter where they are located? Whether they are in a cubicle next to you or on the other side of the world?

BONUS item to seriously consider is how easy the platform allows you to leverage various data sources. This procedure can drastically consume your workflow. The more efficient the process, the better!

So make sure you have a requirements checklist as well as prioritizing that list by must have, nice to have and not necessary. And always ask lots of questions. There is absolutely a platform that will be a best fit. Good luck!