With technology advancing at an exponential rate, the capturing and use of data has revolutionised how we make decisions. However, with corporate data growing at over 40% year on year, the sheer volume at our disposal can often be difficult to manage & utilise effectively at all business levels.

One way to make data more accessible is to view your data with data visualisation. Representing data in graphical form, data visualisation involves creating images that communicate relationships among all the included data points. With the oldest statistical visualisation dating right back to 1644 to Michael Florent Van Langren, a Flemish astronomer, this method to communicate data has been in existence for almost 400 years. Now that technology has advanced, there are a number of data visualisation tools on the market, that cater to all sizes of organisation and amounts of data.

But why has visualisation remained such a prominent methodology to maximise the use of data? Here, we look at some of the top reasons you should look to implement data visualisation tools & techniques in your organisation.

Effective Decision Making

Data visualisation enables decision-makers to view vast amounts of data in a short amount of time. Software is now able to collate millions of rows of data, and present it in a way that is easily consumed and understood by all users, no matter their statistics background, all while also making it visually appealing. It also allows decision-makers to detect possible connections between different operations and domains.

There are multiple different kinds of visualisations at your disposal depending on the type of data, including the more simple bar charts, pie charts and line charts, to more complex geographical maps, scatter plots and time series’, depending on the information required for the decision-maker. When visualisations are displaying data successfully, visuals simultaneously can reveal conditions and patterns, and display insight into how this may affect the running of the business quickly.

Processed Faster by the Brain

It’s claimed that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. While there is some scientific debate on this specific claim, it has been identified that use of images helps enhance recall of information, and helps reduce false memories compared with text only (e.g. Georgia State University, 2016). Both of these are key when using your data to inform your decision making.

Working in such a fast-paced economy, it is easy to see how viewing visual information will be a preferred medium, as opposed to text or numbers alone. Using visualisations can also help when presenting data, by giving the user a platform to tell your audience a story with your data. This can prove especially effective when presenting your findings to an audience who weren’t directly involved with the work.

Simplify Complex Information

If your organisation only has a few rows of data, or your data only comes from one source, it might be easy enough to analyse your information without any visualisation aids. However, the more data sources, rows of data generated, or different types of data, the more than the decision-making process can become confusing and difficult.

Where visualisations can really deliver value is with multiple data sources or quickly-refreshing data. If you’re combining multiple data types or sources, visualisations can display combined views of data, with some tools even able to blend your data together before visualising. Different graphs and charts can additionally be set to refresh in near real-time, allowing the most accurate and up to date view to be seen by decision-makers.

Visualisations also allow the user to drill into their findings and make comparisons, which is crucial to identify the contributing factors to any situation. With tools available that are self-service and very easy to use, even for a non-technical user, these allow everyone to see and understand complex information.

Reveal patterns, trends, changes, and correlations

The most common way of storing data is on a spreadsheet, and they often contain vast amounts of data. In this format, it is almost impossible to notice patterns, trends, changes, and correlations. But by arranging your data visually, it becomes a lot easier to digest and interpret. It’s easier to find and recognise important patterns, and also helps the companies to manipulate and interact with their data though.

Many tools also allow advanced analytics to be simply integrated into a created chart, including statistical significance or lines of best fit. Armed with the statistical evidence to uncover trends in your data, it is easy to make decisions with confidence.  

Data isn’t much good if you can’t understand it. Data visualisation is all about how to present your data, to the right people, at the right time and making effective use of your data. With so many visualisation tools available such as Tableau, PowerBI, MicroStrategy, Cognos, QlikView and more, there is a visualisation platform for everyone. Therefore, it’s no surprise that data visualisation innovations are just as groundbreaking now as they were in 1644.