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Why the RIGHT data visualization is crucial
21 Oct, 2010 - Lachlan James

Data visualization is like wine. Yes; wine (bear with me).

Upon first inspection, it may appear hard to go wrong. Wine, after all, is an inherently good thing right? Sure. But, as the I-detect-a-hint-of-vanilla wine-swilling aficionados amongst us would leap over their spit buckets to point out, it’s not that simple.

Wine must be selected carefully. On a basic level, a deep red for steak, a light dry white for seafood. Poor wine choice can ruin an otherwise good meal.

Likewise, poorly chosen visualizations and graphics can spoil good data analysis.


Visual aids help the brain process information

Significant bodies of educational psychology research, relating to cognitive processing and development, show that learning is best achieved through the use of visual aids.

In a business environment, this means that using visual aids in crucial reports and presentations can enhance productivity, efficiency and knowledge sharing.

Cognitive psychology and educational theory research reveals that visual learning is one of the best proven methods for teaching people of all ages new skills, new information and new learning styles.


Choose your graphics carefully

An International Journal of Human-Computer Studies research paper written by Barbara Tversky, Julie Bauer Morrison and Mireille Betrancourt – Animation: can it facilitate? – explains the importance of good visual support for learning.

The study says that static graphics have been shown to be able to facilitate information comprehension, retention, understanding and interpretation. Although, “only carefully designed and appropriate graphics prove to be beneficial” for conveying complex ideas.

Accordingly, effective graphics must follow the Congruence Principle: “The content and format of the graphic should correspond to the content and format of the concepts to be conveyed.”


Data visualization improves organization knowledge sharing and decision-making

For these reasons, incisive data visualization capabilities are an essential business ally. Having access to world-class Business Intelligence (BI) data visualization tools means fewer blurry-eyed slack-jawed seat-warmers at important meetings and presentations. Employees will be engaged by a range of insightful and relevant data visualization chart types including bar & column charts, line & area charts, pie charts, special purpose charts, combination charts, map visualizations and meters & gauges.


Benefits of incisive data visualization

Visual learning through BI data visualization tools helps to:
  • Make complex information and abstract ideas more understandable and tangible
  • Connect existing knowledge with new ideas
  • Improve information absorption and retention
  • Provide a framework from which future analysis, planning, reporting and discussion can be made
  • Focus discussion leading to better understanding and information interpretation as trends, relationships and patterns are more recognizable

And the end result?

Increased data literacy – the ability to identify and explain trends, patterns and answer questions by gathering, analyzing, interpreting and presenting data – enables management to reach steadfast and timely conclusion and recommendations based on that data analysis.

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