This week in Rhiza’s interview series, 4 Questions, we speak with data expert, Harley Ellenberger. Currently, Harley serves as the Vice President of Analytics at Kantar Media Ad Intelligence where he manages and oversees all client facing and internal analytics and insights projects, including the generation of competitive advertising intelligence.
As an 18-year veteran of the media data analysis space, Harley is a proven leader in market research and data visualization. His visualization work has been featured in the Cook Political Report, the National Journal, the Washington Post and Deadspin.
Data – what do you love about it and what do you hate about it?
I love that nearly any dataset has a story hidden somewhere within and that these hidden stories can be revealed through careful and thoughtful analysis. I suppose a dislike of mine would be the process involved in weeding out those stories – the “janitor work”, cleaning and reshaping the data, merging new data, etc. So much work can be done prepping the data for analysis that the easy part becomes telling the story. The good news is that there’s an abundance of tools that are making this process much easier these days.
How do you engage your co-workers, clients and/or customers with data?
I try to be a Data Visualization Champion. I’m always trying to add a visual element to our in-house data to show both our clients and internal users how much easier it is to spot trends or outliers with a visualization as opposed to a table or spreadsheet. More recently I’ve been trying to supplement some of our own thought leadership content with an animated data story – a quick video that highlights some of the key points with an emphasis on correctly presenting and visualizing the story.
Which current industry trends should we keep an eye on?
Personally, I’ve never jumped on the “big data” bandwagon. While “big data” will continue to be the buzzword of choice, I think it’s important that we continue to focus on the human element of data. Regardless of the advancements in technology that we develop to make sense of big data, humans are the ultimate consumers of the data. In that regard, we still need real people who can explain and present that data in a meaningful way.
Which outlets or industry influencers do you follow to stay up to date with industry news?
While I don’t post much of my own data visualization work on social media, I do use social media (Twitter in particular) to keep up to date on the latest news in the space. A couple of Twitter accounts of note are @DatavizNews and @visualoop. Anything with a data visualization bent to it is in my feed. I subscribe to dozens of RSS feeds from the usual thought leaders – New York Times, Five Thirty Eight, The Guardian, to numerous data visualization blogs, like Storytelling with Data, Visualising Data, Data Viz Done Right and Flowering Data, and daily data visualization content generators, like those found on Paper.li here and here. The DataIsBeautiful Reddit site is also one of my favorites. And I’m a huge follower of all things Tableau, so I obsessively follow all of the top names in the Tableau community.