What is data visualisation?

Using graphs or charts to present data is easier than having decision-makers sweat over spreadsheets or reports. Data visualisation or visual analytics is the presentation of data in a pictorial or graphical format. Data visualisation allows decision makers to understand data analytics better, grasp and convey difficult concepts quickly or identify new patterns.

This history of using pictures to present complex data has an oft-mentioned seminal example from the 17th century; Charles Minard’s visualisation of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia – a map that graphically simplified complex data on the advance of the Napoleonic troops across the Polish-Russian border. Since this seminal age, data visualisation has since been a staple of analysing and communicating information with Venn diagrams, graphs, pie charts, infographics and the like for business, marketing, and every field of study requiring data analysis.

With computer and digital technology, data visualisation has had an exponential boost in power and capabilities. With computers now processing large amounts of data at high speeds, data visualisation technology has become considerably interactive allowing decision makers to drill down into these charts and graphs for more detail, interactively changing details as huge amounts data are continually collected, stored, processed and updated.

Why is data visualisation important?

The answer is big data. Visualisation has become an important component of big data analytics, helping to achieve insights quickly from the big data found in many of today’s globally competitive enterprises. In big data such as the customer and the supply chain data of corporations, data sets have become so large and complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to visualise, analyse, capture, curate, search, share, store, transfer and protect them. The high volume, velocity and variety nature of this big data makes traditional architectures and infrastructures ill-suited to those tasks and thereby ill-suited to extracting any competitive business advantages and growth opportunities from them. Data visualisation or visual analytics overcomes the challenges from big data’s bewildering nature with the power of computing technology.

Current data visualisation or visual analytics technology is capable of processing big data and visually presenting insights in a way that business leaders can quickly understand and use. Visual Analytics can access huge data sets and automatically select the best way to present the data, so that patterns emerge quickly, exceptions and outliers are made obvious, and changes (data over time) are analysed quickly.

What is ‘good data visualisation’?

Data visualisation is the visual display of measured quantities b means of the combined use of a coordination system, points, lines, shapes, digits, letters quantified by visual attributes. It can be static, animated or interactive. However, good data visualisation has three qualities:

  • Good data visualisation establishes hierarchies; making them clear through the visual layering of data.
  • Good data visualisation challenges the viewer to think about the substance rather than about the methodology, graphic design, or the technology used to make the visualisation.
  • Good data visualisation encourages comparisons, revealing data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to minute statistics.

What are the benefits of data visualisation?

Lastly, great data visualisation enables decisions to understand trends and patterns, helping them make correlations, as well as:

  • Absorb information in new and constructive ways
  • Visualise relationships and patterns between operational and business activities
  • Identify and act on emerging trends faster
  • Identify exceptions and outliers
  • Manipulate and interact directly with data
  • Foster a new business language

Reporting of analytics is not enough. Methods or techniques that reveal and update the most relevant aspects of analytics findings for that moment are necessary for non-IT/data science decision makers to make truly informed decisions for the business. This is data visualisation, an essential process in obtaining big data insights or bringing into focus the right data for critical future actions.

For questions on the business advantages of cutting-edge data management, contact ADEC Philippines Managed Services on +63 2 775 0632 loc 8187

Sources:

http://www.slideshare.net/Centerline_Digital/the-importance-of-data-visualization

http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/big-data/data-visualization.html

https://www.techchange.org/2015/05/19/data-visualization-analysis-international-development/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2014/03/10/data-visualization-is-the-future-heres-why/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Joseph_Minard

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