Taming the Data Beast with Robust Data Visualization Tools
If your organization is swimming in a sea of data, you are not alone. Virtually unlimited analytics from IoT devices, CRMs, ERPs, and business intelligence tools capture a staggering amount of data 24/7, leading to the coinage of the term “big data” and the designation of “data scientist” as the “sexiest job of the 21st century”, according to Harvard Business Review.
Yet, for the all the data that is collected, why is it that marketers still struggle to create the perfect marketing campaign and organizations still struggle to make informed business decisions?
The answer is simple. Merely capturing data does not mean that you know how to use it. Without a way of harnessing and interpreting that data, it becomes largely meaningless to store it. What is needed, then, is a way to make sense of the data you have. That is where data visualization tools come into play.
What Data Visualization Is
From the beginning of human interaction, a method by which information could be conveyed in an understandable way was needed. Thus, everyone is familiar with the concept of “draw a picture, and figure it out.”
That, in essence, is what data visualization tools do. Data visualization is a means of conveying the significance of data in a visual way. For easily recognizable examples of data visualization tools, think of bar graphs, pie charts, and tables. These tools help individuals to grasp difficult concepts more easily, since many people are visual learners.
Data Visualization in the Age of Big Data
However, there is much more to data visualization in the age of Big Data than the humble pie chart. Today, data visualization tools are used to interpret vast oceans of data, identifying patterns and trends that have, in the past, been largely buried.
Sophisticated analytic tools allow direct querying across disparate data sets, and data visualization tools translate the answers to those queries into modalities that can be conceptualized as visual representations.
As an example of these data visualization tools, consider the dashboard feature in popular marketing software. From one centralized location, you can access any number of data points represented in an easy-to-digest visual format.
What You Can See with the Right Data Visualization Tools
The right data visualization tools can provide insights far beyond what would be available to the average marketer poring over spreadsheets that go on for miles. The SAS blog entitled “Data Visualization: What It Is and Why It Matters” notes that data visualization can:
• Identify areas that need attention or improvement.
• Clarify which factors influence customer behavior.
• Help you understand which products to place where.
• Predict sales volumes.
With data visualization tools, you can:
• Properly pinpoint emerging consumer trends.
• Quickly see relationships and patterns previously hidden in mountains of data.
• Communicate the story your data contains in an easily digestible format.
• Get buy-in from the C-suite for additional budgeting by showcasing ROI simply.
In short, data visualization offers marketers and executive decision-makers a visual representation of what is happening organizationally, in the wider marketplace, and perhaps even globally, depending on the scope of your business.
However, these tools offer more than just a snapshot. They offer deep and rich insights that inform future business strategy at every turn. Sifting through billions of data points, visualization tools plumb into the depths of your data pools, drawing up the business intelligence that points the way forward toward increased profitability and organizational growth.
What Does the Future Hold?
As impressive as data visualization tools are right now, the future looks to be even more amazing. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality are all areas of innovation which will directly impact the way data is consumed.
Immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality will likely advance to the point of enabling total immersion in a digitally created space, giving users a 360-degree field of vision and the data insights to go with it. The more immersive the experience becomes, the more digestible the information gleaned will be.
The Bottom Line
Data visualization tools offer users deep insights in an easy-to-understand visual format. Even now, choosing the right data visualization tools for your organization will yield significant, actionable intelligence.
The field of data visualization is likely to continue to advance, as digital innovation continues as a rapid pace. The future of data visualization is bright, and is limited only by the capacity of the mind to seek answers from the vast data available for query.
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