Deciphering Data to Uncover Hidden Insights — Data Stories (1)

By Ranjith Udayakumar, Alibaba Cloud Tech Share Author. Tech Share is Alibaba Cloud’s incentive program to encourage the sharing of technical knowledge and best practices within the cloud community.

In the previous “Deciphering Data to Uncover Hidden Insights” series, we covered three topics of data analytics, including:

  1. Understanding the Data
  2. Data Wrangling and Ingestion
  3. Data Modeling

For me, “the best vision is insight.” As per the saying, I like to walk you through in the process of deciphering data to uncover hidden and valuable insights for your business. In this article, I want to share how to visualize the data to tell compelling data stories according to your business scenario in Alibaba Cloud’s Quick BI data visualization tool.

Overview of the Article

For this article, we are going to be looking at:

  1. Domain — BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance)
  2. Modules — From Understanding Data to Visual Stories
  3. Use cases — ATM Analytics, Customer 360

We will be covering the entire process of deciphering data. The overall process involves:

  1. Datasets
  2. Screenshots
  3. Project files
  4. Live project embedded into a blog page

Visualizing Data (Conceptual)

“A picture is worth a thousand words “- When you’re attempting to comprehend the information from the data and to discover relationships between your data, which might include thousands or millions of variables in front.

Visualization becomes inevitable in the world of Big Data; Data visualization tools and technologies are essential to analyze massive amounts of information and it allows us to make data-driven decisions.

What Is Data Visualization?

Data visualization refers to the pictorial representation of data. Information could be visualized in many ways including infographics, charts, graphs, and maps, each of which can offer a specific insight. Visual elements pave the way to see and understand patterns, outliers, and trends.

At its core, data visualization has three purposes:

  1. Reduces the complexity and ambiguity in the data and gives us business value.
  2. Promotes the understanding of data by representing in a visually appealing manner.
  3. Improves the decision making by allowing us to make data-driven decisions easily.

Why Data Visualization?

“Data Visualization plays an inevitable role in the modern business world.” Data visualization ought to be insightful, efficient, appealing, and in several cases interactive too.


The basic purpose of the visualization or the canvas is to inform a meaningful information to the consumer. Envision the basic forms of visualizations like Tile or Bar or Pie, everybody is acquainted with these visuals and can quickly infer the intended point they represent. Since we’re currently aggregating information and displaying it pictorial format it should convey the message that the aggregated information is telling us which becomes harder with a large amount of data.

For example, you data may be presented in the following manner:

  1. Tile: Overall Revenue
  2. Bar Chart: Revenue by Year
  3. Pie Chart: Revenue by Products

We can infer the insight clearly with the visuals rather than surfing through the data. Above are the common ways to quickly identify the insights hidden in the Data.


The biggest benefit of using Data visualization is the efficiency gained through proper execution which will empower the consumer to make the data-driven decision easier and better. A well-designed visual will save the precious time of the consumer as it can communicate the intended message concisely and without ambiguity. For example, you may use a bar chart to visualize “Revenue contribution of Products by Year”.

We can efficiently save our time with the visuals rather than analyzing the data to find the revenue contribution of products which is time-consuming.


Much like a nature scenery draws the viewer in and making them spellbound, properly designed and well-executed data visualizations will draw you in and lead you to the intended conclusion in a visually pleasing way. For example, you may use a scatter chart to represent “Expense Versus Revenue by Products”.

We can have appealing visuals that give a better understanding and attractiveness rather than the data in the format of a table.


Some dashboard visualizations are built in a way to allow us to interact with the data in Realtime. Dashboards, visualizations contain variables and filters that can be adjusted based upon which we could infer result (what could be expected if certain criteria are met). For example, you can represent “Sales by Year” with a line chart.

We can have filters, data action link, etc., which allow us to do exploratory analysis and to interact effectively with visuals.

Visualizing Data (Practical)

As we discussed earlier, we are going to visualize the use cases to decipher the data to uncover the hidden insights, besides we are going to understand the features of the QuickBI and how to avoid the common mistakes that we often do while doing the visualizations.

We will see the options and features available in Quick BI to quickly enable you to fully make use of the features of QuickBI which in turn will help you while building the reports. After that, we will analyze and visualize the ATM Dataset Use Case.

Dashboard Basics

Creation of dashboard from dataset page:

  1. Click Datasets in the Left side pane
  2. Click the Graph Icon
  3. The dashboard is created and opened in a new link

Creation of dashboard from the dashboard page

  1. Click Dashboards in the Left side pane
  2. Click the Create the Dashboard
  3. The dashboard is created and opened in a new link

Dashboard Overview

After entering the dashboard, we can see the following items:

  1. Name of the dashboard on the left side top corner.
  2. Edit or Preview Switch and Save & Save as Buttons on the right side top corner.
  3. Widget Pane and Chart Pane on the Top of the canvas area.
  4. Design Pane on the Right side, which contains three tabs namely Data, Style and Advanced.
  5. Quick Navigation Pane on the bottom.

Dashboard Settings

  1. Click the canvas area to view the page settings on the right-side pane.
  2. Show Watermark — To enable | disable the watermark in the reports
  3. Allow Download — To enable | disable downloading option in the report to download the underlying data when it is exposed to public

Creating a Dashboard

Creating a Chart:

  1. Choose the Chart from the top pane
  2. Click the chart, Graphic Design Pane will appear on the right side
  3. You can see three tabs Data, Style and Advanced.
  4. You can see the fields have already been divided into dimensions and measures.
  5. Drag the data to the respective fields
  6. Dimension Fields to the category axis
  7. Measure Fields to the values axis
  8. If you want to add a further dimension to differentiate the base category, then you can drag the dimension to the colour section (Only dimensions are allowed)
  9. If you want to filter the report then you can add dimension or measure to the filter.

Click Update at the bottom, and we can then see that the chart has been successfully drawn.

Adjusting a Chart:

  1. Click the chart, Graphic Design Pane will appear on the right side
  2. Click the Style tab, you can see
  3. General Config
  4. You can change the Title of the chart and its Font colour
  5. You can have Hyperlink for the Title
  6. You can change the remarks of the chart
  7. You can change the theme of chart either Dark or Light
  1. Style
  2. You can enable | disable Secondary Y-axis (If you have two measures and no dimension in colour section)

You can enable | disable Stacked Bar

You can enable | disable 100% Stacked Bar (If you have a dimension in colour section)

You can enable | disable the Zoom Pane


  1. You can enable | disable the Show Legend and You can change the position of the Legend
  2. You can enable | disable Show Tooltip
  1. Axis
  2. You have Horizontal Axis and Vertical Axis
  3. You can change the Axis Title and Its colour
  4. You can enable | disable grid line and change the colour
  5. You can enable | disable axis and axis values
  6. You can specify the format of the values
  1. Series Settings
  2. You can change the Alias of the series (H as Holiday and W as Workday)
  3. You can enable | disable Data Value Label
  4. You can change the Axis Type
  5. You can format the data value for the series

You can enable | disable Conditional Formatting.

Advanced Options in charts:

  1. Click the chart, Graphic Design Pane will appear on the right side
  2. Click the Advanced tab, you can see
  3. Auto Refresh
  4. You can set No Refresh | 5 Minutes | 15 Minutes |30 Minutes as the data set refresh time to see the up to date information.
  5. Links
  6. You can link the selected visualization to other visualizations on the dashboard, so that the other visualizations are used as a filter, based on the selection of data category of the linked visualization the current visualizations will change respectively.
  7. quick filter widget also works in this way.

Creating Widgets:

Filter Widget:

  1. Choose the Filter Widget from the top pane
  2. Click the widget, Graphic Design Pane will appear on the right side.
  3. You can see Data and Style tabs
  4. Click the Data tab
  5. Select the dataset
  6. Select the Values
  7. Link the charts where and all filter conditions should reflect
  8. Select the Style tab
  9. You can change the name of the filter

Text Area Widget:

  1. Choose the Text Area Widget from the top pane
  2. Click the widget, Text Editor Pane will appear on the top of the Text Area.
  3. You can change the basic properties of text like
  4. Font Style, Size, Paragraph Align Options etc.,
  5. Text Styles like bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, Text colour and Text bg colour
  6. URL Link

IFrame Widget:

  1. Choose the IFrame Widget from the top pane
  2. Click the widget, Graphic Design Pane will appear on the right side.
  3. You can set the URL in the Style tab

Tab Widget:

  1. Choose the Tab Widget from the top pane
  2. Click the widget, Graphic Design Pane will appear on the right side.
  3. You can edit the Name of the Tabs in the Style tab
  4. You can add | delete tabs in the Style Tab

Image Widget:

  1. Choose the Image Widget from the top pane
  2. Click the widget, Graphic Design Pane will appear on the right side.
  3. You can enter the URL of the image
  4. You can set Image Display style


I hope this article helps you to understand the features of Alibaba Cloud’s QuickBI data visualization platform. We will analyze and visualize the use case in the next article of this multi-part article.


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