Data visualization is a term that describes any effort to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context. Patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can get exposed and recognized more easily with data visualization software.
But to understand data visualization (aka ‘data viz’), we have to delve into two areas:
1. The way human beings process information.
2, The “content overwhelm” that we’re experiencing due to the need to process large amounts of information every day
We are receiving more information than our brains can process.
According to Dr. Lynell Burmark, an education consultant who writes and speaks about visual literacy:
“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information (plus or minus 2) […]. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
So, how can we take the information and convert it into something that can be easily understood?
According to Visual Teaching Alliance, studies have shown:
· The brain can see images that last for just 13 milliseconds.
· Our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour.
· We can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second.
· 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
· Visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.
· 40 percent of nerve fibers are linked to the retina
Now add to this mix the fact that we are receiving an incredible volume of data from a variety of sources on a daily basis. From personal to business information, we are expected to glean through it, find the important data, and then use it to move forward in decision making.
To get a better grasp of the magnitude of this challenge:
Science Daily reports that 90% of world’s data generated over last two years.
In the business world, information gets sent and received in a variety of streams, most of which are either in the form of words or numbers. The facts are often disconnected because it requires time to analyze, resulting in the loss of crucial information that is critical for decisions. Even when important core data is gleaned, attempting to get the story across to your audience can be frustrating when it doesn’t speak a language that they comprehend.
The additional area that causes complexities in the business world is involved in both altering the data to be specific for a particular purpose and the ability to address the ‘what if’ scenarios. Piles of spreadsheets simply cannot meet these requirements.
Data visualization is the method to control the madness.
Easy to use dashboards can access the sophisticated software that’s under-the-hood, retrieving important touch points, pooling it into relevancy, and then displaying the results in an attractive image of your preference.
The beauty of data viz is that it offers a colorful picture that not only speeds the information to the brain but also allows you to change the outcome (as well as the direction). The images can be adjusted based on the requirement of the viewer or the questions. This catapults the relevant information into a state of immediacy which then opens the door for conversations.
Data viz is the tool that can communicate to everyone, internal staff or clients, to tell the story and find nuances that are hidden in all of the numbers and words.
But just having the software isn’t enough. It requires insight for the best method to use this powerful tool.
According to DataInformed, the 5 ways data viz allows you to take charge because it allows you to:
•Absorb Information in new and constructive ways
•Visualize relationships and patterns between operational and business activities.
•Identify and act on emerging trends faster.
•Manipulate and interact directly with data.
•Foster a new business language.
Data viz allows a new sense of analytics that takes the complexities and quickly translates them into a world of images that can excite, exhilarate, and propel stories and messages.
From an internal standpoint, the advantages of data viz are incredible. A Mindlab International study resulted in findings that showed employees are 17% more productive when they use visual maps or other illustrative techniques. Teams can become more creative and communicate on a dynamic level. The information can be sliced, diced, and represented to decision makers to display the critical data that’s crucial to the success of the organization.
For customers, data viz can take hardcore numbers and create an image that is relevant for their business model. Through pictures, you can display solutions for their pain points, offering continued conversation and interest.
For sales and marketing staff, data viz empowers you to take the CRM information as well as social trends and convert the data and analytics into presentations that make sense to the viewers through the display of pertinent visuals that tell the story and elevate the conversation to the next levels. It taps into the patterns, nuances, and predictive behaviors that empower the message.
Data viz is the best shortcut to condense large volumes of numbers and words into images that we can understand.
Click here to download The Ultimate Guide to Data Visualization.