Besides entertaining us with spectacular stories, science fiction also has the ability to stimulate our imagination and, in a certain way, to predict how technological landscape will be shaped in the future. For example, in data analytics context, films such as “Minority Report” let us imagine how it would be to visualize and analyse data through an immersive experience leveraging on devices that allow us to augment reality and interact with metaphysical objects (holograms).
Nowadays, this fantasy has been partly realized with the advent of Extended Reality (XR) headsets such as Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, Oculus and Magic Leap. These devices allow users to combine reality with virtual reality elements (holograms, virtual dashboards, avatars, etc.) and interact with them just as if they were real objects.
Even though these trends are already a reality, companies lack on immersive experiences when analysing data. In the last years, the modern Augmented Business Intelligence (ABI) platforms are revolutionizing the way business users explore and get insights from data through the incorporation of different exponential technologies, but the large majority of use-cases still consider interaction through single–touch and click–based experience.
Aware of their vocation to be the first point of contact between business users and data, the ABI platforms are going beyond this limitation and here Meta BI is born.
What is Meta BI
Meta BI can be defined as an evolutionary path of Augmented BI to enable an immersive experience on data. It leverages on a tech ecosystem that provides both a higher level of user interaction and data immersion to enrich insight discovery.
As the Metaverse is taking shape, the Meta BI is evolving consequently: it is going through an evolutionary path towards its fully realization following two main directions:
- Data Immersion, how user navigate on dashboards and visualize data objects.
- User Interaction, how one or more users interact with tech-devices.
The major benefit of adopting a Meta BI solution respect to stick with traditional ones are:
- Multi-dimension Visualization: the development and adoption of 3D technologies to facilitate data navigation and insights discovery.
- BI Beyond the Screen: people need to access data wherever they are, not only behind the screen of their computers.
- Real Experiences: virtual experiences getting closer to real life experiences (wearable devices, holograms, etc.).
- Data Immersion: continuous need to connect immersive experiences with real-world business data (ex. Augment realty with data holograms).
To reach the top level of Meta BI, companies can improve their user experience mainly on two dimensions: “Data Immersion” and “User Interaction”, passing through 6 stages of Bip’s evolutionary framework of Meta BI.
Figure 1 Meta BI Evolution Framework
Storytelling information is a different way of presenting data, closer to real-life stories, which makes dashboards “narrative” with a classic look and click approach to discover business insights. All the major BI solutions vendors already have implemented features that allows users to create storytelling out of BI data: Qlik Sense with its native feature “Storytelling”, Tableau with “Stories” and Power BI through “Bookmarks” or the recently released integration with PowerPoint10.
Figure 2: Storytelling with Microsoft Power BI
2D Multi-layer Artifacts:
Representing information into 2D visual objects and multi-layers maps improve data readability and spatial exploration. ABI platforms offer a wide range of possibilities to implement 2D visual objects. With Microsoft PowerBI, for example, it’s possible to create custom visuals using Synoptic Panel or Visio, which allows to map images in order to make them interactive with other charts.
Multi-layers maps services are offered by specialized vendors such as MapIT and ArcGis (natively integrated with Power BI) or directly by the BI vendor such as Google with native Map and Qlik with GeoAnalytics.
Figure 3: Custom Map for Mobility Monitoring made by MapIT | Figure 4: Stadium Monitoring in MS Power BI with Visio
3D Multi-layer Artifacts:
Navigating information using 3D objects increase navigation freedom by breaking the third dimension using advanced computer graphics plugins that enable 360-degree navigation emulation.
3D objects are developed by specialized vendors like KeyBiz for creating custom dashboards leveraging on their IoT platform Metamorphosis or through addons to integrated BI tools such as Vcad and Tracer which allows to visualize 3D models developed with Computer Graphic technologies (importing BIM files) or Mapbox which offers a plugin and a service to render 3D maps.
Figure 5: Hospital Photovoltaic Monitoring System with Vcad | Figure 6: Train Monitoring with Metamorphosis (KeyBiz)
The main BI tools such as Google Looker already offer a Mobile App version of their tools allowing users to navigate information everywhere through their mobile devices. BI tools not only permit to visualize report on mobile devices, but they offer apps optimized for mobile navigation to optimize accessibility and UX. Furthermore, Mobile Apps such as Power BI Mobile and Mobile Analytics of Qlik Sense allow users to set alerts and notifications making BI active in the process of support end users.
Figure 7: Multi-devices Power BI Reporting | Figure 8: Mobile App Google Looker
Navigating interactive dashboard with other team members facilitate the process of discovering and sharing insights and business ideas. PowerBI and Tableau offers dedicated Apps for Surface Hub and Vibe Smartboard (multi-touch tables) to handle multiple people touching simultaneously the same touchscreen (so called multi-touch).
Also specialized vendors offer multi-touch integration. For example, KeyBiz offers the possibility to integrate dashboard based on their Metamorphosis IoT platform with multi-touch tables.
Figure 9: Metamorphosis Reporting on Multi-touch Table
The most advanced stage of Meta BI is the integration with XR. Exploring data using Extended Reality technologies going beyond the boundaries of a screen makes interaction with data look and feel as real experiences.
Google Looker has created a “LookVR” App that allows graphs and data to be viewed as holograms through Rift and Vive visors. Power BI offers a dedicated Power BI App for Hololens 2. Thanks to this integration it is possible to interact with data and reality at the same time, opening the door for new use cases (remote assistance, plant monitoring, holographic simulation, etc.). Unity and Unreal Engine can be used to develop custom XR, for example, AnotherReality, Bip’s partner specialized in the development of VR solutions, offers figures specialized in XR development (virtual assistant bot, showrooms, virtual conference, etc.).
Figure 10: Google Looker VR Reporting based on Rift device | Figure 11: Hologram and Power BI Charts on HoloLens 2
Where to start?
The Metaverse is the future of Internet and is becoming real, meanwhile BI is evolving in Meta BI to make data navigation a new immersive experience. Companies are still not aware of the potentiality of adopting Meta BI solutions, but there are several opportunities to boost analytical capabilities and move one step ahead on a data-driven culture.
At Bip, we see Meta BI technologies being applied to different industries for different use cases since, as the Metaverse, its application limit is only the imagination. However, first movers are more likely to be companies from capital intensive industries such as Manufacturing, Energy, Buildings and Transportation, more willing to invest in this type of innovation.
Figure 12: Meta BI Use Cases and Industries
Bip can help our clients to start adopting Meta technologies and to be ready for the Metaverse. Our approach covers end-to-end a Meta BI project, going from the design of specific use cases based on client’s context to the development and release of Meta BI solutions, boosting users’ data-driven and meta-driven culture.
Bip xTech, our Centre of Excellence in exponential technologies, leverage on technological competences and partnership with strategic vendors to engage hybrid-skill teams to support client Meta BI projects.
Please contact us if you need an insight on our end-to-end offering or you wish to have a conversation with one of our experts.
In this article, some products/vendors have been mentioned as examples to illustrate some advanced functionalities. Bip, through our center of excellence in data technologies (Bip xTech), has partnerships with many of these vendors but, aligned with our vendor independence strategy, we maintain as technology agnostic and, therefore, we are able to recommend the best solution depending on the client need, leveraging on a group of experts certified in most of these technologies.
To request further information on our end-to-end offer or have a conversation with one of our experts, simply send an email to [email protected] with the subject “Meta BI”, and you will be contacted immediately.
 XR is an emerging umbrella term for all the immersive technologies. The ones we already have today—augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) plus those that are still to be created.
 Currently, Meta BI use cases related to Augmented and Mixed Reality are more suitable than Virtual Reality: this need will get stronger as the Metaverse gets closer.
- Mystakidis, S. Metaverse. Encyclopedia 2022, 2, 486–497. https://doi.org/10.3390/encyclopedia2010031
- Augmented Business Intelligence: the massive adoption of edge data technologies. Bueno V. (2021)