Data has the power to make or break a business. In its most basic form, it can be anything from a string of numbers, a list of customers or a graph of points, all used to record information or events. In a collated, cleansed, analysed and, to coin one of the hottest buzzwords of the moment, visualised, form, data can tell an engaging and persuasive story that sews the seed for a new product, provides the evidence for expansion or prompts the closure of certain operations.
To put it simply, failing to manage and display your data correctly could cost you money and your reputation. Poor visualisation could also mean that you fail to see things your competitors see, and consequently miss out on opportunities to stand out from the crowd and move ahead of the competition. By contrast, managed and displayed correctly, data has the potential to totally transform your business.
Getting the most out of your data
Gathering, collating and analysing data is not a new practice. Businesses have been doing this with increasing levels of success and usefulness for the past decade. The emergence of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) slowed progress down temporarily, but most organisations are now aware of their obligations with regards to the data they hold and have made the necessary changes to ensure compliance.
However, there is still a heavy emphasis on manual processes and many organisations are struggling to get the most out of their data. Effective analysis is often limited, and many data departments are inflexible and reluctant to share their expertise and knowledge across the organisation. Data visualisation seeks to address this, by shifting the focus from data capture and manipulation to data analytics and business intelligence.
Painting a picture
Given the human tendency to store and recall visuals more than text, using the data to paint a picture or tell a story is a key differentiator when it comes to success. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the human brain can process and understand any visual in just 13 milliseconds, while a separate paper from the University of Minnesota found that our brains can process visuals 60,000 times faster than any textual or verbal context. Moreover, another report by the Wharton School of Business found that including visualisations in a presentation can shorten a meeting by 24%.
Good visualisation, whether it’s charts, plots, maps, diagrams or matrices, act like eye candy. Adding these visual aids to make information more pretty or provide context helps people remember. Combining them with narrative text effectively tells a story which the audience is much more likely to identify with and be able to recall at a later date.
It also provides the opportunity to properly demonstrate the importance and significance of what the audience is being told by adding additional context.
Data visualisation has the potential to drive change
Delivering data in an engaging way quickly highlights the essential information and accelerates decision making. The insertion of narratives and visuals facilitates better explanations and enables these decisions to be more easily quantified or justified. Devised well, a visual data story has the potential to drive change.
In addition to the visual benefits, these tools also offer new ways of slicing, dicing and displaying data both programmatically and visually. Some even offer the ability to interactively explore the data, which gives the user a bigger picture and facilitates more informed decision making.
At Brickendon we are well aware of the benefits correctly analysed and displayed data can bring to any business. We are also aware that business processes are becoming increasingly data intensive, business users increasingly data hungry and that lineage and audit processes are being increasingly scrutinised. The key is to not get carried away over-analysing individual sections of data and to ensure that the data remains relevant and focused on the customer’s needs.
To find out more about our data offerings click here, or call 0203 693 2605 to book a meeting with one of our data specialits.