There’s an oft-repeated piece of advice for conveying information to an audience: “Show, don’t tell.” This principle is a good one to remember when it comes to data analytics, too. There’s a huge difference between reading a business intelligence (BI) insight and seeing it represented as a visualization model. If you had to guess, which one would you say tends to make more of an impression and foster a deeper understanding of the information at hand?
Yes, it’s data visualization. Here’s more on the impact data visualization can make in the workplace.
Charts and Dashboards Aid Interpretation of Insights
Data visualization puts information into a visual format, like a chart. This helps people interpret the data more readily. As organizations gather and more and more data is submitted for analysis, it’s essential to consider how exactly this data is presented to users. As Search Engine Journal writes, analyzing massive amounts of data “calls for a way to sort through, comprehend, and explain it in a way that makes sense to both the business owners and stakeholders.”
The most obvious impact data visualization has in the workplace is the way it makes often-complex data insights more digestible. What might take 100 words (or many more) to explain in a text format is often interpretable at a glance when it’s formatted as a best-fit chart. The most effective data viz models do the important work of clarifying whatever information they’re conveying to users.
Data Viz Is Embeddable Across Workflows
Data viz also plays an important role in sharing information across an organization. Some of the best BI tools today facilitate embedded analytics — meaning users can embed search analytics, charts, and dashboards into shared workflow programs. The ability to infuse a work environment with BI puts insights where people already spend time. This can have a huge effect on adoption rates, as it makes it easier for people to access insights at any time. It’s also an important aspect of building a data-driven culture. Data visualizations remain top of mind and highly accessible, rather than languishing as part of a separate program. As a result, companies can turn their portals into a hub for visualizing insights and performance metrics using embedded analytics.
Data Visualization Is a Starting Point
Consider the difference between these two scenarios:
- A sales manager sends their team a map showing sales by state.
- A sales manager sends their team an interactive map; salespeople can click into states, explore sales in different counties and compare products in various regions within their patch.
The latter is far more valuable because it provides a richer context, and allows users to keep exploring the data from various vantage points. Any questions employees can think to ask; they can answer using the interactive chart.
Data visualizations get the conversation started. They give users the ability to see the data clearly laid out, then start asking, “Why?” In other words, it’s a starting point for drilling down further into data rather than the final answer to a question. These models are interactive for a reason. They are meant to be explored further, compared, and interrogated. This is how employees strengthen their relationship with data insights, looking at them from various perspectives, and questioning what they’re seeing.
Essentially, data visualizations help employees evaluate performance and identify possible ways to improve outcomes based on what they’re seeing. Rather than having to take insights at face value, charts, and dashboards, ensure that people can really sink their teeth into data — then use their findings to drive smarter decision-making.