Businesses and managers rely on data every day to make timely and educated decisions that affect the future of the company.
Data itself is vital, but so is the way it’s presented, otherwise referred to as data visualization. The idea of data visualization is not new – every student learns how to create pie and bar charts in school.
As technology advanced and data collection became more complex, the need arose for better, more accurate and easily understood data presentation. Computers make it feasible to access and process huge amounts of data at a time. Because of this, data visualization has turned into something that’s part science, part art.
In a recent Wired magazine article, examples of just how varied visualization can be are shown. Each visualization is based on the same data set, but the 25 different types of visualization shown vary widely in appearance. It’s important to study your data and figure out which story you want to tell with the visualization.
In the article, information designer Nathan Yau says presenting data is “a nice idea in theory – you want to visualize the data and not get in the way.” Data needs a point of view, and a shape in order to be effective, which is why it’s vital to choose the angle best suited to telling the story you want to tell.
Organizations can use data visualization in a myriad of ways to aid in the decision-making process. Below are five ways that businesses and decision makers can benefit from data visualization:
Improve Customer Relationships
Big data is used to analyze just about everything, but one of its most effective uses is to analyze customer buying patterns to see what consumers are buying and how they’re buying it. Organizations can utilize different types of data visualization to create and monitor the most efficient system possible. With proper data visualization, it’s easy to spot outliers and fix problems that otherwise might go unnoticed.
Recognize Emerging Trends
Just looking at data without any kind of visualization makes it difficult to focus on and find patterns within that data set. With proper visualization, managers can view trends and pick out what’s really happening within the organization. It also can show monthly and yearly growth, and gives executives the chance to examine why sales increased or decreased.
Exchange Ideas Effectively
When managers can communicate with each other on key indicators within data, it creates a smoother, more streamlined decision-making process. Visualization creates a way to pick out those key indicators and share them with other departments and the executive team.
Influence Company-Wide Decisions
With the right form of data visualization, managers can make quick decisions to bring about needed major changes and even slight adjustments. Users can absorb and retain more information this way, allowing for the higher-ups to make change and to show the employees why the change is occurring.
Interact Directly with Data
Visualization allows for quicker decision making, but it also brings to light actionable items that can affect the company. Data reports can indicate a dip in sales, but they might not necessarily show why there was a dip in sales. Data visualization provides that indicator, and can allow for employees to quickly act to fix an issue.