We love a good spreadsheet.

Not in a weird way, we’re not going to critique your VBA skills or start a petition to bring back Clippy. In a way that enables us to make clear, informed, data-driven decisions, draw concise conclusions and (perhaps most importantly) make pretty graphics.

Pretty graphics might seem flippant but lets face it, row upon row, cell after cell, formulas, pivot tables, to the average Joe, that’s not a fun way to spend an afternoon. But as the nights draw in and John Lewis has it’s annual tug on our heartstrings thoughts turn to end-of-year reports, and there will be a lot of average Joe's in glass-walled rooms spending their afternoon chewing over whether their vlookups are returning the numbers they’re expecting.

David McCandless said “if you're navigating a dense information jungle, coming across a beautiful graphic or a lovely data visualization, it's a relief, it's like coming across a clearing in the jungle.” And he’s right. But how do we know the data we are looking is the right data?

In a world where data is big, and connectivity is seemingly everything, the amount of data we are all recording is growing at an exponential rate, and this can be pretty daunting (for Joe, in his glass-walled room). At Rally we spend a lot of time pouring over data; collecting it, pulling it apart, analysing it, visualising it, and it gives us confidence. Confidence in handling that data, and in the decisions it leads us to take.

OK great, but what does this all actually mean?

Well, it means we that when we launch a product, a campaign, put a website live, send an email, we've already done our homework. But it’s more than this, it means we've done the groundwork that will enable us to identify and respond to what the data is telling us - in real time - and we can show that to our clients in a pretty graphic, in turn giving them confidence that will ensure they don’t miss a trick (or know which tricks to miss, which can be just as important). It’s at this point that data comes to life.

Living, breathing data doesn't ask us what we want to do today, it tells us; it doesn't just lead us to a clearing in David’s data jungle, it guides us up an information mountain, enables us to look down on the jungle and say "Hey, whilst you've been lost down there, I've found a path out (and look at that pot of gold at the end of it)”. OK, I've perhaps taken this analogy too far.

Sometimes though, data does just pop up for no reason, and that’s fine too, because let’s face it, if you don’t love a spreadsheet, everyone loves a good data visualisation right?