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Visualization: The Future Of Decision Making

Pictures are going to be essential to our understanding of increasingly complex data

18Aug

Did you know that despite the age-old thinking that women are better at multi-tasking than men, that both genders are really bad at it.

That is to say that they can generally only process 7 bits of information at any one time. It makes you realise that everything needs to be as simple as possible to achieve the best possible results and in our increasingly data-driven society, it is something that is increasingly difficult to do.

Think about the way that most data has been stored for the past 20 years: In Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

Imagine that within this spreadsheet, you wanted to find out something as simple as geographies of your customers. You would need to look through all addresses, calculate how many are in each area, then write these numbers down. It would be difficult, confusing and would ultimately end up with some really inaccurate data. Then try and imagine collating this geographical data with sales data, it would be impossible in that format. Even if the data was all automatically collated, trying to see this on a spreadsheet would be impossible.

Visualization has allowed us to show data in a way that is easily understandable and approachable. This approach to presenting data has allowed decisions to be made through data without being blurred with confusing amounts of information being presented. It makes for clearheadedness amongst decision makers when utilizing the datasets for important business purposes.

It is also important to remember that the people who are likely to be using this data are the ones who are also likely to be those who have worked with it the least. The company leaders need to have this kind of information and they need to have it in a way they can clearly understand quickly. Visualization gives them this.

This is not a new idea either, think about trying to navigate from one place to another with nothing but spoken directions before you set off. It is significantly more difficult and the longer the journey, the more difficult it becomes. To deal with this, maps were created which gave clear routing options. However, maps not only show you where you are going, but everything else around your route. With the invention of Satnavs people only needed to see the information that mattered to them, ie where they needed to turn next, not where they would need to go several turns in the future.

Data visualization works in exactly the same way, the simpler your can make it, the faster you will get to your eventual destination.

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