Faced with a rapidly changing digital and technological environment and unprecedented demand from consumers to innovate, organizations are increasingly looking at their data to step up their game and make strategic decisions. While there is no lack of information as organizations are getting inundated with data every minute, all this data can become redundant unless business units have the tools to understand and analyze them quickly or in real-time. What companies need is the expertise to interpret data effectively to extract value and create new business opportunities. This is where data visualization can play a crucial role to make sense of the raw data and use it efficiently.
What is Data Visualization?
Data visualization is the ability to create visuals that can interpret the information that is being generated from multiple sources and process it into what experts, data scientists, and analysts refer to as “actionable insights”. Some forms of data visualization tools like pictures, maps and graphs have been around for a long time. However, today it goes beyond charts and images, and investing in smart visualization tools is considered a sound business decision. The reason is that data visualization is helping decision-makers and key stakeholders across businesses in their day-to-day and strategic decision-making by translating large amounts of data into meaningful insights. This is assisting organizations to identify new trends, recognize new patterns in customer behavior and meet challenges head-on. Data visualization is enabling organizations to respond faster to changes in the business/market and identify new or better business opportunities to drive operational efficiency and profits. Thus, data visualization not only makes it easier for decision-makers to grasp and analyze the information quickly, but it also allows them to communicate insights and data-backed decisions to stakeholders more effectively.
“To make big data actionable and profitable, firms must find new and innovative ways to fully leverage their data and change their business through analytics. One option is to adopt and use powerful visualization tools that are available today. Through visualization, organizations can find and communicate new insights more easily. The key to making these new insights actionable is to make analytics operational. This requires embedding analytics into business processes in an automated way and generating analytics on the fly, whenever decisions need to be made,” says a Harvard Business Review webinar report on “making big data actionable”.
The end-user experience or customer experience is increasingly becoming a key driver for businesses. In this context, conversational business intelligence, conversational platforms or conversational interfaces are expected to play a significant role. Such platforms can become critical differentiators in ways companies engage with their customers. Here too, data visualization can help organizations personalize the customer experience and make it seamless by quickly recognizing shifts in consumer behavior and preferences.
Advantages of using Data Visualization
- Visual content is more potent than textual information. It is much easier to understand and process visual information as compared to pages and pages of numbers or texts. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
- Data visualization can be interactive. Rich graphs help engage and inform executives and stakeholders on critical indicators and identify shifts and trends.
- It allows data to be accessible through different touchpoints (web/mobile) and also enables executives to access and interpret data in real-time, thereby helping them to be in touch with outcomes regularly.
- Helps in faster assimilation of data and enhances collaborations within the organization, and drives towards better actionable insights.
- A well visualized and defined data can identify patterns and drive business. Data visualization techniques/tools make it easier to leverage data and convert them into relevant information.
- Visualization tools can help organizations and analysts find value within the data quickly. The faster an organization can find usable information, the sooner it can be used to identify shifts in customer behavior, for example, or offer new solutions or even modify the business strategy.
Data visualization is not merely stating what has happened in the past. In the context of big data and Internet of Things, for example, effective visualization tools can help rule out unnecessary content/ambiguity, generate insights and facilitate profitable business decisions.