In today’s globalized and multicultural business world, where people are communicating across multiple languages, regions, time zones, and borders, data visualization tools are a godsend. And that’s not the only reason.
Attention spans are getting shorter all the time, giving communicators only seconds to capture the notice of an audience. Increasingly, and in many different situations, communicators are using pictures and images to help them do this. Infographics, online demos, even interactive videos are taking the place of traditional static brochures, spreadsheets, and slide presentations.
But what exactly is data visualization? In short, it’s a way to enable people to visually grasp complex concepts with minimal use of verbiage; that’s essentially the meaning of the term. The tools available now make it incredibly easy for communicators and presenters to aggregate lots of information and create compelling graphics that are relevant to their viewers. With simple point-and-click, you can organize and consolidate information however you want.
But the best way to define why people use data visualization tools is to take a look at a few examples. Here are three I chose at random, just to give you an idea.
Marketing: Each time a consumer makes a purchase, signs up for a loyalty program, or subscribes to an email newsletter, a marketing organizations can collect and analyze the data to reveal different aspects of consumer behavior. With data visualization tools, these insights can be used to predict new trends, shown in a line chart to reveal change over time. Or the team can determine what products are likely to sell well in a particular area, and show that data in a geographic bubble chart.
Supply Chain: With a few clicks of the mouse, a logistics expert meeting with a trading partner can create geospatial maps, info threads, and word clouds to convey volumes of complex data to identify patterns and portray performance evaluations.
Human Resources: What works in motivating and inspiring employees – and how can that data be shared with stakeholders? Using analytics on employee engagement and leadership programs, data visualization can transform this information to help HR teams instantly convey what’s effective and what’s not – by region, business unit, employee type, and so on.
Frankly, there are as many variations as there are industries, organizations, and in fact, people. Get creative, and you can probably think of a few right now.