If you want to navigate data’s deep waters, you need a dashboard

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In countless movies that depict our future digital lives, larger-than-life dashboards loom, delivering whatever information you seek at the touch of a screen. Every data point is visually compelling, easily digestible, and able to convert into myriad formats. Microsoft took a stab at such a future years ago with Surface, a product that seems to have evolved into PixelSense but hasn’t seen much traction since. So, much like flying cars, where are the touchscreens encompassing entire walls?

G_F5Kp_j_400x400A startup called Dive, the latest entrant in the data visualization space, is taking a stab at this vision. The company launched at CES, with the aim of equipping Fortune 500 companies with interactive dashboards surfacing insights and trends in visually compelling graphics.

Intending to “change the way media is purchased,” according to Deb Hall, founder and CEO, Dive consolidates data sources for brands and turns them into eye-catching marketing intelligence that is “accessible, fun, and entertaining.”  It’s all real-time and meant to help marketers not only digest trend data but turn it into actionable content marketing about their industry and competitors. This area is something that Buzzfeed Director of Data Science Ky Harlin might have a few things to say about at Structure Data in March in an interview with Gigaom founder Om Malik.

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Say an ad agency based in Austin has a big pitch with Universal Music Group coming up. That agency can display all the area searches around UMG musicians, alongside trending hashtags, Spotify plays, and Facebook likes. Taking data from across the Web ensures trends and insights that aren’t confined to just one channel. Austinites love this particular song because they’re streaming it constantly on YouTube, for instance.

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Dive arrived at CES with some heavy hitters in tow. Its first content partner is Google’s online platform for marketers, Think with Google, with installations at agencies and brands. Pulling data from Google searches and YouTube, the Dive platform will curate content and trends from Think with Google and deliver it in a visually compelling format. Leslee D’Antonio, Managing Editor of Think with Google called Dive “a unique and engaging way to distribute insights in real-time.” And in an onsite demonstration at CES, LinkedIn collaborated with Dive to show off ‘A Year in Review – 2014 Trending Topics and Articles’ alongside some of the world’s top brands, for OMD Worldwide.

Data visualization is an increasingly crowded space. It’s about as hot a market as you can find right now, one we write about often. Gravity is a key competitor to Dive and they’re a formidable one, recently acquired by AOL. Gravity was also ranked first by Gigaom analysts in a 2013 Sector Roadmap report on content personalization. Dive is also competing in the content marketing sector, which has gone from hot to overcrowded to a subject about which everyone professes expertise.

Self-funded, not yet profitable but earning revenue, Dive sees 2015 as a big growth year, adding to its stable of both clients and employees. They also plan to build further on premium products, Dive Desktop, Mobile, and Interactive.

The data scraping and coalescing is the easy part (like I can talk). The winner of the visualization battle will be the company with the best designers. The reason the category exists to begin with is because humans need eye candy to process, especially when it comes to correlating multiple factors. Dive was smart in making a Creative Director one of its first hires and it shows in its product. If it keeps its focus on the visual, it could have a chance against AOL.

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