Society has many expressions relating to the power of visualizing things, like the fact “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” Another example is this Henry David Thoreau quote: “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
It makes sense that enterprises increasingly regard data visualization as critical to their business, as it is the graphic expression of analytics insights.
Here are three reasons why.
1. Data Viz Helps Users Understand Complex Concepts
Although data-driven decision-making is becoming a more prevalent component of “business as usual” across sectors, not all employees have extensive knowledge of working with and interpreting data. Furthermore, asking employees to invest an inordinate amount of time trying to manipulate and understand data can sabotage analytics adoption rates, as it interferes with employees’ workflow constraints.
Data visualization is critical because it serves as the link between data — often many rows spanning multiple sources — and understanding. It translates complex concepts into a visually intuitive language. The form strengthens the message when the viz model is a good fit for the insight at hand.
Remember, employees are primarily concerned with the “takeaway” they can use to inform future actions. As Search Engine Journal writes, even the results from complex algorithms are more comprehensible in a visual format rather than presented as “lines of text and numbers.”
Data viz models can help users understand often-involved concepts promptly and accurately, both of which contribute to quality decision-making.
2. Data Viz Empowers Employees in Decision-Making
Enterprises used to lean toward relegating data analysis — and the subsequent creation of reports — to specialized teams of data professionals. But data democratization capabilities have changed the very idea of who can, and should, work directly with data.
As the value of connecting everyday decision-makers with the insights they need to optimize business outcomes within their roles, organizations increasingly ask how they can do so. That is, what do employees at every level need to ask questions, understand insights, and share results in a digestible format? Data visualization has taken center stage in this regard with its ability to show what data points are telling.
One iteration of this is empowering front-line employees — like customer service managers — with relevant info and insights “at the point of contact with customers and operations.” Consider the difference between employees having to try to mine and analyze data quickly to increase the value of a transaction or strengthen a customer relationship with vs. without access to intuitive data visualizations. And yet, as TechRepublic reports, fewer than half of business leaders (43 percent) report they’re currently empowering front-line workforce members with the tools they need to thrive in this capacity.
Data visualization is an integral part of empowering employees to make savvy decisions when it counts because it helps them access information in a usable way.
3. Interactive Data Visualization Models Encourage Exploration
When data visualization models are interactive, a chart doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story; it serves as a starting point for employees looking to explore insights to uncover relevant nuggets of wisdom. With static reports, employees “get what they get.” If they have any subsequent questions after looking over the report, the process must be adjusted and repeated.
The result? Employees may refrain from asking questions, thinking it’d take too long or be too cumbersome to get the answers they’d like. Or, decisions may be delayed while follow-up reports are generated. Interactive models allow employees to zoom in and zoom out, taking in large datasets or individual points as needed.
According to BizTech, quality data visualization helps businesses present insights in a compelling way to help decision-makers:
- Discover new business opportunities
- Help generate solutions for challenging problems.
- Uncover potential hiccups and inefficiencies in operations
The role of data visualization in data analytics is critical to business because it clarifies insights for users, empowers employees to make data-driven decisions, and encourages them to keep exploring data — all benefits that can contribute to driving business outcomes.