May 14, 2015

Our Most Requested Feature is Now Live: Upload Network Data to Polinode

Andrew Pitts

Ever since we launched the private beta of Polinode we have heard a consistent piece of feedback - you, our users, would really like the ability to upload any network data into Polinode and use our tools to visualize and analyze it. Today we are announcing that we have added that feature! Uploading data is as easy as preparing an Excel file with two worksheets - one summarizing the nodes in the network and the other summarizing the edges. The only required data for nodes is a list of names and the only required data for the edges is the names of the two nodes that the edge connects. So, all you need is an Excel file with three columns like the below images and Polinode will take care of the rest!

Recap - what is Polinode?

If you haven’t used Polinode before - it’s a tool for mapping, visualizing and analysing networks in the browser. With Polinode you can collect network data using our relationship-based survey tool. For example, you can ask questions such as “Who do you work with often?” or “Who do you go to for advice?”. You can then visualize and analyze this network data in one integrated and highly flexible solution. Applications are many and varied but include change management, identifying emerging talent, M&A integration and improving workplace layouts. This is what we call the ‘Survey’ functionality and in summary it is most often used for organizational network analysis.

Today we have added what we call ‘Network’ functionality. Now, you can use the powerful network exploration tools in Polinode to explore your own data. In addition to being a tool for organizational network analysis, Polinode can now also be used as a “Gephi in the cloud”.

Why is this a Big Deal?

Network data and network analysis is incredibly powerful - it helps cut through complexity and often leads to deep insights. Now you can perform network analysis in the cloud. This means you can share your networks and analysis with others easily as Polinode includes the ability to grant other users access to your networks. Simply enter their email address and they will receive an invitation to view your network. You can even specify the permissions that you grant other users including full edit or view only permissions and whether they are able to add other users or not. It’s like Google Drive for networks.

What can I use this for?

Anything you like! You can upload network data from, for example, email communications, IMs, 360 degree performance reviews or social media such as Twitter to name just a few examples. Now you can use Polinode with any network data that you have access to.

To illustrate what we mean, every existing account has been and every new account will be granted access to their own copy of an example network that is based on the real-world email communications between Enron employees. This dataset was made public in 2003 and we have extracted a network from the publicly available data. On signing into Polinode for the first time, you will be taken on a tour that uses this Enron dataset to illustrate some of the things that are possible with Polinode. The image below is a capture of this Enron email dataset.    


I want more!

OK, OK. We’ve made it as simple as an Excel spreadsheet with three columns to upload your own network data but there are actually a lot more options than this.  For example, you can specify the x and y co-ordinates of each node, the colour of each node, the size of each node and an unlimited number of attributes for nodes and edges. Attributes are just data attached to each node or edge such as gender or age. For edges you can also indicate a weight value for each edge and whether the edge is directed or undirected. These features are all optional though and you don't need to use them if you don't want to.  

What’s more, while the Excel upload option is the simplest, we also support upload in Gephi’s GEXF format as well as JSON data. And, any network data can be downloaded in any of those three formats - Excel, GEXF or JSON.

I still want more!

We are actively working on more features for Polinode and listen to all the ideas and feedback we receive. In the short term you can expect to see some updated video tutorials. We would also welcome you to share your ideas on our feature requests forum and/or vote on some of the feature requests currently listed there.

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