Expert Insight: 'The Process Of Visualization Is Also A Process Of Making Sense Of The Data'

We talk to Doug Ireland, VP of Finance at Prezi


Ahead of his presentation at the Data Visualization Summit in San Francisco on April 19 & 20, we spoke to Doug Ireland, VP of Finance at Prezi.

Doug is the VP of Finance at Prezi, the zooming presentation software as a service with over 60 million users. He built and leads a finance and accounting team of seven outstanding professionals in San Francisco and Budapest. Doug has ownership of financial planning and the accounting and financial reporting processes.

What has been the single biggest change in data visualizations today and 5 years ago?

Just the proliferation of visualized data is the biggest change. Everyone working in a knowledge job now has multiple data sources available to them and is expected to communicate and make decisions using that data. Visualizations are the natural way of telling the story in the data. Another thing is the amount of live data backing visualizations; not only in dashboards and BI software but also presentations and other documents. Now when the source data changes the visual stays up to date.

Which piece of emerging technology do you think is going to most impact data visualization?

In the longer term, immersive experiences like AR and VR. Data visualization is extremely relevant to immersive visual experiences. It makes no sense to communicate anything but the simplest data points in text or verbally in a virtual, richly visual environment.

Do you think you need to understand data to effectively visualize it?

Yes, but the process of visualization is also a process of making sense of the data. This process can be broken down into multiple questions that can then help even data novices. What type of visualization to use in a given context or for a given message, for example, or how to tell the story of change or contrast in data – there are many questions that tool providers can help with to make effective data visualization accessible to novices, too.

How do you see data visualization developing from a business perspective in the next 5 years?

Having data on demand in an organization is becoming a given highly technical organizations. This trend will continue to expand to more traditional industries and smaller companies. The next step will be having the correct visualizations available on demand, too, to be used and reused in multiple channels and media of communication.

What can the audience expect to take away from your presentation in San Francisco?

Prezi is the presentation platform that helps you connect more powerfully with your audience and customers. Unlike slides, Prezi’s single, interactive canvas encourages conversation and collaboration, making your overall presentation more engaging, persuasive, and memorable. I'll show how the combination of conversational presenting and storytelling with strong data visualization can help an audience understand complex messages, and motivate them to action.

You can catch Doug's presentation at the Data Visualization Summit in San Francisco on April 19 & 20.

Looking small

Read next:

Expert Insight: 'An Effective Visualization Results From A Great Deal Of Curiosity And Exploration'