Posted 05/30/2013 by Julian in HOW-TO

Facts about Data Visualization

Information is the key to every business. It is so valuable that many enterprises are willing to spend a huge sum of money to get their hands on data. But data can be deemed useless if it is not harnessed or utilized appropriately. And this is where data visualization comes in.

What exactly is data visualization?

Linkedin maps data visualization

Linkedin maps data visualization (Photo credit: luc legay)

Data visualization is a term that refers to any kind of technology that makes it easier for business executives and end users to arrange data in a more understandable manner. This way, data can be prepared, presented and digested with the business context in mind. It features more than the graphs and charts that the excel spreadsheet can be used for. It can offer more and open more information that make it much easier to determine correlations, trends and patterns which are particularly important in a business analysis.

The main objective of data visualization is to communicate information and ideas that will ultimately drive action. Therefore, understanding the criteria for valuable insights and getting a full grasp of the reasons behind the construction of data visualization is crucial. This way, efficiency and impact can be maximized.

Without a structure, information can be nothing more than a bunch of unrelated details that do not make any sense. With the help of data visualization however, they can be given more structure and made more relevant.

Why is data visualization important?

Screenshot from "A Thousand Fibers Connect Us — Wikipedia's Global Reach"

Screenshot from “A Thousand Fibers Connect Us — Wikipedia’s Global Reach” (2011 WikiViz Data Visualization Challenge). Lines are readership of  Wikipedia language versions (lower half) from countries (top half) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are three main reasons and purposes that data visualization can fulfill. One, it is useful for confirmation. Two, it comes in handy in serving the purpose of education. Three, it is essential for exploration.

Assumptions are nothing but unfounded claims and hunches without proper data to back it up. And no business in the right mind will allow the entire investment to rely on nothing more than assumptions. Visualization on the other hand, can help verify these assumptions to provide management a more reliable basis for making their decisions regardless if it is about the competition, the customers or the marketing approach.

Data Visualization also proves importance in the purpose of education. It can come in the form of reporting. That is to further establish an existing system or model. But it can also help in the development of new insights where a new system can be established to further enhance operations.

Finally, data visualization offers a helping hand in the purpose of exploration. It can pave the way to new discoveries and ideas for the ultimate objective of improvement applicable to every aspect of the business.

How to maximize data visualization impact?

There are a couple of factors that need to be duly considered in the process of visualization as well. This is to ensure that the effectiveness of the end product is maximized.

The value of visualization for instance, heavily depends on the quality of the underlying data. To make the analysis more accurate and the findings more reliable, particular attention has to be spent on the gathering of data itself. This is to make sure the conclusions made from the visualization are nothing less than accurate. The context and the biases shall be taken into account as well as they can present certain challenges to data interpretation.

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