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Communicating Analytics Insight With Data Visualization

Data viz is allowing people to understand analytics

29Sep

In order to use Big Data effectively, a holistic approach is required. Organizations are now using data analytics at every level, and roles that previously would have had no need to concern themselves with data are now required to have some degree of understanding in order to leverage insights.

Ensuring that data is presented in such a way as to be understood and utilized by all employees is, however, a challenge. Most Big Data actually yields neither meaning nor value, and the sheer volume coming into businesses can be overwhelming. Companies are therefore increasingly moving away from simple 2D Excel charts, and replacing or supplementing them with powerful data visualization tools.

Sophisticated data visualization is a tool that supports analytic reasoning. It accommodates the large numbers of data points provided by Big Data using additional dimensions, colors, animations, and the digital equivalents of familiar items such as dials and gauges. The user can look at the graphics provided to reveal entanglements that may otherwise be missed, and patterns in the data can be displayed to the user at great speeds. Nicholas Marko, Chief Data Officer at Geisinger Health System, notes that: ‘You need to represent a lot of information data points in a small space without losing the granularity of what you're trying to reflect. That's why you're seeing different kinds of graphics, infographics, and more art-like or cartoon-like visualizations. It's certainly better than increasing the density of dots on a graph. At a certain point, you're not getting anything more meaningful.’

There are numerous benefits to data visualization. It reduces dependence on IT, allowing them to focus on adding value and optimizing processes. Increasing the speed that data is analyzed also means that it can be acted upon quicker. Intel’s IT Manager Survey found IT managers expect that 63% of all analytics will be done in real time, and those who cannot understand and act on data in this way, face losing their competitive advantage to others.

Data visualization for mobile, in particular, is becoming increasingly important. The requirement for real time analytics, the ubiquitousness of mobile devices, and the need to have information in real time, means that many data visualization vendors are now either adapting desktop experiences to mobile formats, or taking a mobile-first approach to developing their technology. There are obvious constraints, with smartphone display space limited. Information needs to be presented more simply than on a desktop, so, rather than just translating a complex desktop view into a simpler mobile one, it is important to consider context. Designers are also exploiting gesture-based input to help users easily navigate different views and interact with the data.

Gartner estimated a 30% compound annual growth rate in the use of data analytics through 2015. Visualization data discovery tools offer a tremendous opportunity to manage and leverage the growing volume, variety, and velocity of new and existing data. Using the faster, deeper insights afforded, companies are more agile, and have a significant competitive advantage moving forward. 

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