Rhiza Blog Blog

Data Visualizations and Computer Programming– Child’s Play!

A gang of young Rhizans hijacked the office on Thursday to take part in a two hour series of fun office activities. Rhiza celebrated Bring Your Kids to Work Day on Thursday by inviting all employees to bring their kids in for an afternoon filled with fun, snacks, and creative activities.

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Ten kids, ranging in age from 4 to 10, took the office by storm and participated in several games that included creating a city out of cardboard boxes (complete with parks, a co-op and bike lanes), making visualizations with Post-It notes and bar graphs, and programming a robot to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The result was a combination of chaos, creative thinking, and a ton of fun. The event allowed kids to use creativity, work in a team environment and eat healthy snacks while exposing them to some of the themes and concepts that run deep at Rhiza.

While yesterday’s program was uniquely created for this year’s Take Your Kids to Work Day, Rhiza actually let’s employees bring their kids to work any day. The company’s “kids in the workplace policy” is just one of the many perks of being a Rhiza employee, and allows parents to bring their children to work any time– a super convenient policy for parents during snow days and in the summer months.

If you’d like to be a part of a company experiencing explosive growth with fantastic perks and a family-friendly culture, check out our current openings (rhiza.com/careers).


Happy Earth Day!

A very important part of our company culture here at Rhiza is ensuring that we as a team take an active role in caring for our planet and environment. We demonstrate this by practicing eco-friendly habits in our workplace and encouraging friends and family members outside the office to do the same. Whether we’re recycling materials in the office or using our technology for the greater good of the planet, our organization was founded on the core belief that business should be conducted in a way that is positive for people, the planet, and profits.

This earth day, we wanted to promote our ideas and beliefs by using our tool to promote the areas of the country that also take an active role in environmental protection. Using the Rhiza platform combined with Experian Simmons Local survey data collected in the spring of 2014, we generated location-based data visualizations that show the different areas of the country that share our eco-friendly attitude.


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Pittsburgh Fans Win NL Central Division

The 2015 MLB regular season is just a couple of weeks old, and there is already a lot of buzz surrounding Rhiza’s hometown Pittsburgh Pirates. Following two consecutive winning seasons and two playoff runs, many have set high expectations for the team and ESPN’s Buster Olney even selected the Pirates as his pick to win the 2015 World Series.

However, as many longtime fans are aware, the twenty consecutive losing seasons that preceded weren’t as pleasant, and consequently, the team’s fanbase deteriorated while attendance dropped to all time lows.

So given the Pirates recent rebound and the current hype for the 2015 season, we were curious to learn more about the current state of the Pirates fanbase. We identified a few relevant questions that we wanted to answer: how does Pittsburgh stackup against the rest of the nation in terms of MLB fans? What NL Central team has the most MLB fans? What Pittsburgh neighborhoods have the most MLB fans? By using Simmons Local survey data and the Rhiza Platform, we were able to quickly uncover insights that allow us to answer these questions.

According to a Simmons Local survey that was conducted just a few months following the spectacular 2013 Wildcard game, 16.43% of the nationwide respondents claimed to be “Very Interested in Major League Baseball”. We took the total number of weighted individuals in each NL Central designated market area (DMA) that made the same claim and indexed it against the US average. On the scale, 100 is equivalent to 16.43%.


Pittsburgh, traditionally known as a “football town”, and more recently a “hockey town”, had significantly more respondents who are “very interested in Major League Baseball” than any other NL Central team and ranked significantly higher than the US average. Equally as surprising, Chicago came in dead last and indexed well beneath the US average. This could be contributed to the Cub’s poor 2013 season, and if so, is there a correlation between the number of fans and the 2013 regular season standings?

NL Central Teams by MLB Fans Indexed by DMA, Spring 2014
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. St. Louis Cardinals
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Chicago Cubs

2013 MLB Standings
1. St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68)
3. Cincinnati Reds (90-72)
4. Milwaukee Brewers (74-88)
5. Chicago Cubs (66-96)

While the results aren’t too far off, Milwaukee jumps out the most. The Brewers had a pretty dreadful 2013, but Milwaukee ranked second in its weighted percent of baseball fans which suggests they could possibly have a pretty dedicated fanbase.

Drilling down to Pittsburgh as a whole, the Rhiza platform allows us to see what neighborhoods are home to all of these Bucco fans and which areas still haven’t joined the bandwagon. This graphic shows the weighted percent of MLB fans in each Pittsburgh zip code indexed against the US average of 16.73%


Pittsburgh fans are clearly scattered throughout the city with a significant portion of them residing in western suburbs while some southwest communities are still feeling burned by the longtime losing streak and skeptical of recent success.

Just for fun, here are some maps for each of the other NL Central cities:


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Let’s go Bucs!

Argyle Countdown

We’re very excited to have Rhiza CEO, Josh Knauer, speaking at Argyle’s Chief Marketing Officer Spotlight Forum at 8:20am tomorrow, April 8th, 2015 in New York City.

As we continue our countdown to the Forum next week in New York, we thought we’d put together another post detailing the consumer trends in the financial industry. We hope to see you there!

Is Amex an Urban Credit Card?

Since we’re looking forward to meeting industry leaders at both American Express and MasterCard at next week’s event, we were curious to find what areas in our hometown of Pittsburgh have the highest percentage of MasterCard credit card and an American Express card holders. We pulled Simmons Local data and generated a map of Pittsburgh by designated marketing areas (DMAs).


First, we checked out American Express, and according to the results, the Amex cardholders are more confined to the Greater Pittsburgh Area and don’t separate out into surrounding towns and counties. We can also note that there are more Amex cardholders north of the city than the south, while Swissvale had the highest population. The southern most DMAs have the fewest Amex cardholders.


Next, we checked out MasterCard holders, and discovered they are much more widespread throughout the city than Amex users. Concentrated populations of MasterCard holders popup in the Greater Pittsburgh Area and exist in nearly every direction.

So do people in the city prefer Amex while suburban populations are more included to use MasterCard? Why are areas north of the city more likely to have Amex and Mastercard consumers than areas south of the city? To find out, we also decided to take a look at how many people in the Pittsburgh area use a credit card period.


Interestingly enough, people living downtown and areas northwest of the city are more likely to have credit cards than areas south and northeast. The fact that many individuals in the south don’t have credit cards in general could explain why Amex cardholders are pretty scarce.

WebMD Users May Not be Easily Fooled

In accordance with John Oliver’s request to bring back the true meaning of April Fools Day, Rhiza has decided to take the Last Week Tonight No-Prank Pledge. Instead of celebrating April Fools Day with pranks and hoaxes, we decided to conjure up some interesting data visualizations to prove that using data to tell a meaningful story is not a joking matter.

In the spirit of April Fools Day, we decided to find out what US regions have the highest populations of gullible people. After quickly looking through some Simmons Local data, we were able to generate a report of individuals in the US who claim to be easily swayed.

To take it one step further, we were also interested in drawing location-based comparisons between people who are easily swayed and those who are frequent users of a product or a service that has a reputation for being incredibly persuasive. So we turned our attention to WebMD.com. WebMD has received past criticism for persuading users that their medical symptoms could be signs of something more serious, and has even been referred to as a “prescription for fear” by the New York Times Magazine. So the question is: are states with the most gullible populations also the ones with the most WebMD users?

First, we used Simmons Local data and the Rhiza platform to figure out which areas of the country might be the most susceptible to April Fools Day pranks. We then overlaid the data across a map of designated marketing areas (DMAs).

The most significant conclusion is that the south is the most gullible region of the country, while the suspicious people of the northeast claim to be absolute in their beliefs. Areas of the southwest and small pockets in the northwest also rank above the national average.

Next, we used Simmons Local data to determine what DMAs have the most individuals who used WebMD.com in a 30 day timeframe.

The north and south swapped, while the west remained the same. Apparently the easily-persuaded states in the south aren’t as likely to use WebMD to be checking up on their symptoms, but the less gullible folks northeast are the heavy frequenters of the site.

Since the south contains the largest population of people who consider themselves easily swayed, then its low percentage of WebMD users might be a good thing. Otherwise, there might be a huge population of hypochondriacs beneath the Mason-Dixon line. Likewise, perhaps WebMD’s most productive users are in the northeast, where residents might be less likely to be convinced that minor aches and pains are signs of a terminal illness.

Based on the large population of easily-swayed people, one has to wonder if there is an increased number of April Fools Day pranks played in the southern states. If this is the case, then maybe we should all work hard to ensure the No Prank Pledge makes it way to the south in 2016.

Rhiza and CNBC Reflect on the Heinz-Kraft Merger

Earlier this week, CNBC reached out to Rhiza to leverage our expertise in data visualization.

Following the announcement of the Heinz and Kraft merger on Wednesday, CNBC wrote a fascinating story detailing the location of Heinz ketchup and Kraft macaroni and cheese consumers. It also highlighted the Rhiza Platform’s ability to quickly combine different datasets with geography based visualizations in order to discover interesting trends and give data meaning.

The Rhiza Platform, which allows users to generate location-based data reports, can be used to quickly identify stories that aren’t readily apparent in an Excel spreadsheet. And since the reports are generated on the fly, Rhiza was able to quickly provide data visualizations to supplement CNBC’s story in a matter of minutes.

The results allowed CNBC to publish an interesting article that proves the northeast and the midwest as the main markets for Heinz ketchup and Kraft macaroni and cheese, respectively.

States with the most Heinz ketchup consumers


States with the most Kraft macaroni and cheese consumers


Taking it one step further, Rhiza was able to overlay both datasets over a single map in order to reflect the states have the highest concentration of both Heinz ketchup and Kraft macaroni and cheese consumers. The results show that the midwest has a higher percentage of people who consume both products than the northeast.

States with the most Heinz ketchup and Kraft macaroni and cheese consumers


Because of our partnership with Experian, Rhiza offers a wealth of data. When that data is combined with our cutting-edge visualization platform, we’re able to help companies answer tough questions like never before and uncover consumer insights quickly and efficiently.

My Goodness, My Guinness!

St. Patrick’s day is an opportunity to celebrate Irish heritage in a variety of ways — whether by wearing green, watching a parade, or enjoying a variety of Irish beers. Of the Irish beers consumed on St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness, the popular Irish stout, traditionally leads the pack. According to WalletHub, over 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed on St. Patrick’s Day in 2015.

So do states with the higher Irish populations drink more Guinness? Over at Rhiza, we decided to celebrate the holiday by finding out. According to the U.S. Census Report, nine of the top 10 states with the largest Irish-American population are in the northeast. Massachusetts ranked number one with 22.5% of the state’s population having identified as having an Irish ethnic origin.

Using Simmons Local survey data, we were able to generate visualizations that display the percentage of survey respondents who self-identified as Guinness drinkers. So is Massachusetts also number one in terms of Guinness consumers?

Figure 1
Figure 1: Who drinks Guinness the most – Northeast states

Interestingly enough, despite ranking 6th in Irish-American population, Vermont lands the number one spot for Guinness enthusiasts with a 4.7% of surveyed respondents claiming to enjoy the Irish stout. This is not only the highest percentage in the northeast, but also the highest across the country. Massachusetts is close behind with a 4.4%.
Based on Figure 1, it is definitely clear that there is a direct correlation between regions with a high Irish-American population and those who claim to enjoy Guinness, as the northeast leads the nation in both.

So how does the rest of the nation stack-up?

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Figure 2: Who drinks Guinness the most – Midwest states

In second place is the midwest with the top three Guinness drinking states being the northern most: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. An interesting pattern that is evident by the first two figures is that the percentage Guinness drinkers decreases as we move south. It’ll be interesting to see if that continues.

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Figure 3: Who drinks Guinness the most – West Coast

As we can see in this figure, Guinness isn’t as popular on the west coast as it is on the east coast, and there is generally a smaller Irish population present in these states as well. However, Colorado possesses a fairly high percentage despite ranking 17th on the Irish population list.

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Figure 4: Who drinks Guinness the most – Southern States

Home to both the smallest Irish population and fewest Guinness fans is the south. The biggest Guinness drinking state is Florida with a 2.8%; however, it is also true that Florida is home to many transplants from the north.

Based on the survey data, we can definitely confirm that Irish-Americans enjoy Guinness, and maybe even assume there is a direct correlation between Irish populations and Guinness consumption, and since the majority of Irish-Americans live in the north, Guinness drinkers in the south are a bit more sparse.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Breakfast at Rhiza: Small Businesses Can Eat Well Too

IMG_4102I had a wonderful and healthy breakfast this morning (see the photos I took this morning). All ingredients that I used when I prepared my meal were organic and provided by local farmers. Why am I sharing the details about my breakfast this morning? If I were at home, this would be no big deal, but I’m not. I’m at work at Rhiza, a software company that I lead as CEO.

We’re all used to hearing about the fancy chefs at Google, Facebook, etc. but there are ways that smaller companies can reasonably provide healthy food options for their employees without breaking the bank by opening restaurants in the workplace. At Rhiza, it’s part of our culture to encourage healthy lifestyles for our employees. We believe that healthier employees are more productive, engaged and in general, happier. So how exactly can you achieve those goals without breaking the bank?

The first and best decision we’ve made as a company was to establish a relationship with Isidore Foods a food subscription company in Western Pennsylvania connecting local farms directly with consumers. It would be unrealistic for Rhiza to establish individual relationships with all of the different farmers that would supply the eggs, milk, cheese, meats, fruits, vegetables, bread and the variety of other items we want to have in the office. Isidore Foods already has all of those relationships established. Our office manager lets them know what we want and quantities, and they deliver it all to our office on a weekly basis. Any food that isn’t consumed in a reasonable time goes home with employees and shared with their families.

IMG_4103Since we want employees to be able to prepare this fresh food how they like for breakfast, lunch and snacks, the second part of this approach necessitates having a real kitchen in the workplace. We have a full kitchen with oven/stove and all of the utensils and pots/pans a person might need. Yes, that’s an upfront investment but it is really a minimal cost when looked at in the big picture.

What about cleanup, you ask? We see that as another way to emphasis our company values. If you made a mess (in coding software, in the kitchen, etc), you need to clean it up if you can or ask for help if you can’t. While there are always hiccups along the way, we’ve not noticed any serious problems.

We’ve found a great way to have our company’s values of caring about people, planet and profit reflected in our kitchen. Employees can be healthier, we’re supporting local organic farming and continue to have fun at work.

     by Josh Knauer   Blog   1 Comment

Did Texas Make 50 Shades a Record-Breaker?

Valentine’s Day weekend offers plenty of opportunities to spend money: expensive dinners, chocolates, flowers and diamonds. This year’s holiday offered one more—Fifty Shades of Grey. The premiere of the controversial film, based on the novel by E. L. James, came the day before V-day. And whether out of excitement or morbid curiosity, people flocked to the theaters in droves, earning the film $81.7 million at the opening weekend box office. More than the money, however, the rush earned 50 Shades the title of 4th biggest R-rated premiere in movie history, as well as highest-grossing Presidents’ Day weekend opener ever.

How a film does on opening weekend shapes the conversation around its success. But what do these numbers actually mean? Is the amount of money a film pulls down on opening weekend really a marker of America’s feelings, or just a way to say if the studio made their money back? Turns out, it depends on where you live.

Figure 1. When do you usually go: Opening Weekend

Obviously, not everyone runs out immediately to see a new movie. But in some places, opening weekends are a bigger priority than in others. According to Experian data published in 2014, there are regional preferences for when people see a movie—on opening weekend, within the first two weeks, or even later. The data doesn’t break down by specific film, by genre or even by season; it’s a macro trend for all films across the entire country for the entire year.

The data suggests that the Northeast, for instance, really couldn’t care less about seeing a movie on opening weekend. In the counties shaded lightest—primarily New England and the northern Midwest—less than 3% of moviegoers see a movie on opening weekend. The Southwest, on the other hand, finds opening weekend much more important. Laredo, Harlingen and El Paso counties—all in Texas—have the highest proportion of opening-weekend junkies in the country, followed closely by Bakersfield and Monterey-Salinas, California. In fact, Texas, New Mexico and Southern California are about the only places in America that care to see movies ASAP. After that, the wind of interest blows steadily from south to north.

Figure 2. When do you usually go: After Second Week

Sure, there are people in the Northeast who will stand in the midnight lines, and people in Texas who prefer to wait. But even though the proportion of people in Texas who waited more than two weeks to see a movie is, at its lowest, still 5% higher than the proportion of people who go on opening weekend, the fact that such a small section of the country is buying such a large portion of opening weekend movie tickets means we have to rethink what these numbers mean.

Have these trends continued into the New Year? More specifically, has 50 Shades played to the trends? If so, when it comes to the film’s 2015 Valentine’s weekend success, either we are to assume that the Southwest has a disproportionate interest in BDSM, or simply a greater interest in spending their weekends in a movie theater. If the Southwest is significantly more likely to see a movie on opening weekend than the rest of the country, as the 2014 Experian data suggests, maybe opening weekend revenue isn’t predictive of a movie’s worth, but only whether it appeals to a few counties in Texas.

Introducing the Rhiza Ratio!

At Rhiza, we know that the best way to use data in a compelling way is to tell a story. But before all of that, you need to form a hypothesis, pull the numbers, run analysis, and then confirm or reject your hypothesis based on the conclusions reached.

While we have posts on our blog that do all those steps to tell a compelling story, and our customers use the Rhiza Platform tool to do that everyday, the Rhiza Ratio is an opportunity for you to explore data around interesting data points and current events so you can then draw your own conclusions. We’ve used our tool to quickly wrangle the data, but we leave it up to you form your own to ask follow up questions and draw your own conclusions.

With our inaugural Rhiza Ratio, we looked into the car brands that have consistently advertised during the Super Bowl over the past five years (Audi, Honda, Kia, and Volkswagen), and their market share four months after the game.

Again, rather than creating a hypothesis and drawing conclusions for you, we’ve provided the data so you can create your own story. Because the less time you spend pulling all your data together, the more time you can spend analyzing, exploring, and crafting your story.

Check out this month’s Rhiza Ratio.

Rhiza Ratio

Is there data you’d like to see to help build your story or ideas for a future Rhiza Ratio? Leave us a comment down below.


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