Data visualization has been a major component in the overall effort to make Business Intelligence more mainstream and widely accessible.
In a modern workplace, where time is of the essence, it has become crucial that information is efficiently communicated across different levels of the business. The effective use of data visualization can allow you to present large volumes of data in a much more simplified and user-friendly manner. With these benefits in mind, we explore why it deserves to be an integral part of your business intelligence strategy.
A switch from input to output
As business intelligence becomes more mainstream, vendors are beginning to focus on both ends of the pipeline. As well as improving the quality of data input, there is also a strong focus on ensuring that the output is well-structured and clearly presented.
This increased focus on output has largely been driven by the demands of consumers who have been enticed by what visualization can offer. Rick Robinson states that one of the major demands from business users is the ability to produce Business Dashboards that are “faster and more flexible”1.
A BI Dashboard can be a great way to compile a number of different data visualizations to provide an at-a-glance overview of business performance.
What is Data Visualization?
In simple terms, data visualization involves the graphical representation of data and can take a large number of different forms such as charts, info graphics and dashboards. Data visualizations can help to transform often complex data into something that is not only easier to understand but also more aesthetically pleasing.
The advantages of Data Visualization
Businesses are quickly beginning to realise the advantages that visualizations can have over standard representations of data. Nathan Roberson discusses how visuals are much more effective, not only in capturing people’s attention, but also in maintaining this attention for a greater length of time2. This can be particularly important when communicating data to key decision-makers higher up in the business who require quick and actionable insights.
How Data Visualizations can be used
However data visualizations are not just an important tool for communicating data to other people. As Michael Rappa says, “We see visualization as an important, integral part of not just communicating insights to decision-makers, but very important to your understanding and analyzing your data”3. Data visualizations can help you spot trends in data that may not have been noticeable from the text alone. They can also enable you to make more effective comparisons between data sets by plotting them on the same visualization, helping you to gain more value from your data.
The future of Data Visualization
@ellisbooker discusses how data visualization tools are slowly getting into the hands of “regular business users”4. This highlights the changes that have occurred in recent years to make business intelligence much more accessible. Users no longer require high levels of experience or technical knowledge to be able to create and manipulate data visualizations, meaning these tools are no longer restricted to particular areas of the business.
Users are beginning to expect higher quality data visualizations, and in order to keep up with these expectations, vendors are continuously being forced to innovate the capabilities of their software.