In a recent Business2Community column, Howard University Marketing Professor Angela Hausman says data visualization tools can make descriptive and predictive analytics more accessible.
“… regardless of the tool, data visualization, at its best, should uncover new patterns of relationships not visible to the naked eye,” Hausman writes. “Hence, the key to effective data visualization is the ability to capture patterns and relationships in clean, simple visuals that allow the signal to stand out from noise contained in the data.”
Enterprises seek innovative techniques that help them draw attention to key messages and allow them make informed business decisions in complex situations. Visual analytics is one such method that allows decision makers to gain insight into complex problems. It simplifies data values, makes it easy to understand and helps enterprises in communicating important messages and insights which otherwise would be difficult to understand without deep technical expertise.
The practice of presenting information visually is nothing new and the industry has witnessed a growing progression in the techniques down the years; starting with hand-drawn simple charts and tables followed by spreadsheets giving rise to graphs such as bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs.
Visual analytics uses data visualization techniques like 3-D scatter plots, network graph, interactive bar graph, animated sequence assembly etc. It runs on a code which in turn can be compiled into any programming software platform. It can be used across any industry as it helps capture the changes in a business environment in real time, and facilitates top management to take the best suited business decision.
Appearances matter. The way that data is presented affects our capacity to understand it and influences how quickly and easily the information and insights it provides can be used to inform our decision-making.
This helps finance professionals maximize benefits:
• in their software investments
• in their role as users of finance data
• as providers of finance data to other parts of the business
• as holders of the purse strings for budgeting and investment in IT resources
Why should I care about data visualization? “By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful” saysDavid McCandless, an author and information designer. Simply put – data visualization is a better way of displaying the information that you and others are gathering. Instead of looking at a long sheet of numbers and information, it adds visual meaning to the data – whether it’s highlighting areas on a map, creating intuitive charts, or showcasing trends via interactive graphs.
Visualization can help public relations professionals communicate data more clearly and effectively. Endless rows and columns on spreadsheets are far too difficult to grasp for normal human beings. Text explaining data is often messy, unclear and usually boring.
Creating visuals to depict data helps an audience understand the numbers faster and better. With well-designed visuals, the audience can grasp insights that were not obvious to them before and incorporate those insights in their decision-making.
Consumers, journalists and other PR audiences are inundated with information. PR communications that include data visualizations and infographics stand out and rise above text-only articles and posts. A well-designed graphic can prompt an editor to publish your press release rather than a competitor’s.
With the rise of “big data,” data visualizations are more useful than ever. However, a hastily produced image won’t suffice and may even misinform or confuse viewers. Careful research and design are crucial for developing a visual that is eye-catching, informative and factually accurate.