How to make data visualization work for you

Data visualization allows you to take standard business intelligence, along with data analytics, and transform it into a powerful visual image. But when you move beyond the numbers and spreadsheets and enter into a visual adventure, there are a few things you’ll want to consider as well as questions to ask.

Data is simply data if it isn’t relevant to your business objectives. Stop for a moment and ask yourself what you’ll need to create effective interactive dashboards. What is your baseline objective that you want to produce? What story do you want to tell and who will be “listening”?

Here are 4 tips to make data visualization work for you:

1. Understand basic data modeling

The buzzwords ‘good data management and governance’ examines the value of the information from both structured and unstructured levels so that everyone within the organization is on the same page.

According to, the most important aspects include:

  • Assessment: Assessment and documentation of the current data architecture
  • Collaboration: Creating a collaborative platform for sharing data standards.
  • Operationalization: Developing the data stewardship policies and procedures to operationalize data governance.

Pulling everything together means knowing the inner and outer data flows that build compelling data models.

2. Talk to your target audience

Make sure that you are speaking in the language that your target audience understands. Tailoring your message so that it’s relevant to your viewers often means getting inside their heads. What kind of results are they looking for? What pain points do they want to see addressed? Anticipate the type of questions that they will have.

Data visualization can act as a catalyst to create conversation, so be prepared for exciting responses and the alternate realities that gets proposed.

3. Focus on the impact to create a call to action

One of the weaknesses of using BI is when organizations attempt to make data visualizations “interesting” and they miss the bullseye. One of the most important elements in good data visualization is with recognizing that “impact” is required to create an experience for the reader that’s useful and practical.

Before embarking on your data visualization journey develop a hypothesis that defines your direction, know what you want to pull out of the information, and then work the problem through to the conclusion.

In a 2015 HorizonWatch report: the TEC quote:

“Good data visualization practices help not just to solve issues but also to pose new questions, encouraging the discovery and research process to go beyond just common tasks to explore new patterns and trends that can potentially boost business efficiency.”

4 Steps To Use Your Data Visualization:

Data visualization has the ability to delve into the massive quantities of information and retrieve the ‘golden nuggets’ that are pertinent to your story. When done correctly, it can summarize and present large data in simple, easy­to­understand visuals that will give insightful information to the viewers.

Step 1: Creating Your Strategy

This involves a two­-punch approach: Establishing a realistic idea of the business results desired as well as changing old habits. Know the questions that you are trying to address and look for the answers by drilling down in the enhanced reporting instead of previewing those old analytical reports you get every week.

Step 2: Use BI

View BI as a way to see the past, present and future. Look for the trends and patterns as well as the hidden nuances that have affected changes and spikes. Business intelligence is predictive and can allow you to monitor more variations than you did in the past. Pull information from a variety of sources and let the data visualization create the patterns.

Step 3: Use the built-­in collaboration tools

Your data visualization software includes some incredibly powerful tools, which can empower you to add pizazz and sparkle to otherwise mundane information. Know which type of display will have the most impact. View each one to see what will have the largest impact on the particular target audience. If they are creative, add more color; if they are analytical, emphasize

Step 4: Data Democracy can be your best friend

Data democracy is all about sharing. Each individual and department has a requirement that needs to meet their own needs, but remember how the information that you share will influence others and impact other departments. Sharing this type of crucial information allows for interaction that opens the doors for conversations that never before was possible. Exposing new information to others will also generate innovate ideas, so be prepared to be flexible to add changes.

Data democracy can integrate various pieces of information, allowing a more free flow of information for projects to bring an increase in the return on investment.

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