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8 - Cloud Apps
8 - Cloud Apps

Data Doesn’t Have to Look Boring: Brag About It with BloX

When people talk about data, the first thing that comes to mind are things like charts, graphs, sitting at a single table, big meetings, and looking at numbers. The consensus is:

It’s boring.

And if you were to tell me, “Absolutely not!”, then that means you have figured out the secret to turning the mundane way of telling people about data into a visual storyboard. Spoiler alert: we are going to take a sneak peek at how Shedd Aquarium uses BloX to represent our data.

At Shedd Aquarium, we like the idea of storytelling; which includes how we present our data. From knowing how the animal came to Shedd Aquarium, to seeing the numbers of how many students we were able to welcome for free, and even the fundraising efforts to know we are reaching our financial goals to maintain the best animal care, the list goes on. The first problem we had: there was not a comprehensive place where our high-profile staff were able to go to review our metrics. Not without talking to about a dozen people to pull the numbers which can take days.

Around 2021 we began using Sisense, which transformed the need of having to have multiple communication with a laundry list of staff of different departments to having a one-stop shop for selected staff to see the data they need. After all, time is precious, and what better way to save time is to further automate where the data comes from and put it in an accessible place? (This also shaves down on the amount of email requests too!)

Our designers got to work: creating dashboards that replaced manual, fillable documents, to displaying metrics with confidence knowing they directly came from our CRM and other connected sources without having to re-share Excel spreadsheets and reports that, let’s be honest, most likely contain language understood by our guest-facing staff compared to our end user stakeholders.  

From seeing how well we have done in sales and attendance with timed entry to financial goals, it seemed a little too good to be true. This is where we encountered our next problem and feedback: 

there are too many widgets to scroll through.


***(Actual data numbers redacted per Shedd Aquarium’s privacy policy)

Thanks to the support of Sisense and getting myself into an introductory course back in March of 2023, I’ve learned that depending on what kind of data we want to present, we can not only put it into a single widget but make it visually appealing, informative, and even dynamic by allowing filtering options (we even got to combine same data points that exist on multiple widgets into one):


***(Actual data numbers redacted per Shedd Aquarium’s privacy policy)

With BloX, we not only were able to condense meaningful data together but make it impactful to our viewers. Our Conservation Action team, for example, is now able to see the numbers directly and understand the results of their program without the granular view of the source and deciphering what each data point means. This not only makes it appealing to look at, but we can create an enhancing narrative of how impactful a program is with how the data is displayed.


Alongside that, BloX enhanced our filtering needs and made this function more accessible for end users to access, self-serve, and manipulate their data results without worrying about needing to resize their browser or window.


BloX has become indispensable to us to better showcase the data we collect, turn manual reporting processes more automated with a single click, and provide flexibility to relate data together instead of separating them into their own number indicators. When new designers onboard to using Sisense at Shedd, our core value is to not only understand the data we collect but put ourselves in the shoes of the end user: Does the end result allow our viewers to be able to self-serve pulling and manipulating their data with confidence? Does the data on the dashboard make sense separately or together? Can our viewers be able to connect the dots in one stroke and understand the results?

Data does not have to be dreadfully boring to look at and static. It can be interactive, fun, and exciting to review at any time of the year, not just core periods like big quarterly meetings.  BloX helped us achieve that and we will continue to discover ways to use BloX to further enhance how we view the results of our data and excite our viewers on the “what’s next to come”.


Jenisa Leagnavar
Data Engineer at John G. Shedd Aquarium.

Starting with Shedd’s Guest Relations team, Jenisa Leagnavar expanded into the data world after discovering a love of analytics, problem-solving the manual steps, and automating how data can be reached and understood around the organization. From working with front-facing guests which helped provide deep knowledge of what the organization has and needs, to developing sustainable data practices, she became the go-to data guru at Shedd Aquarium. Core focus on data analytics, administration, policies, and data management systems.