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Why Data Visualization is Essential for Your Business

Data is the driving force behind business decision-making in this era of information, having replaced intuition and the “educated guesswork” of previous years. Business leaders use data to derive meaningful insights about their operations, improve processes, guide teams, communicate with stakeholders, and generally run their businesses better.

But working with data isn’t easy. Data is hard to interpret, process, and communicate – especially when it comes hard and fast, and in vast quantities. For instance, the average enterprise stores 10PB of data, which is the equivalent of 23.1 billion files, according to a Veritas report. Needless to say, deriving valuable insights from so many files would be a lot of work. 

This is where data visualization comes in. It makes working with data much, much easier. If leveraged effectively, it could be a potent asset for your business, big or small. Below, we cover the essentials of data visualization and explain how it could benefit your business.

What is data visualization? 

There are more humans on the planet than ever before. Moreover, we’re all producing and consuming more information as well. According to Wonder Newsroom, the average American consumes almost 10,000 words a day

This mass data production and consumption also applies to the business world. Businesses interact with more stakeholders than before (think business partners, customers, investors, and employees), and business processes are much more complex. Every interaction produces data, as does every process. This data is typically gathered and stored numerically or textually. 

Data visualization is the practice of representing (or ordering) data in a visual format, such as by using graphs and charts. This is mainly for human benefit. Human brains have an easier time making sense of visuals as compared to text (or numbers or audio). They process images 60,000 times faster. Also, the information is better retained and understood. People are 323 percent more accurate at following picture-backed directions than text-only ones, for instance.   

What are the immediate benefits of data visualization?

Your business likely produces and collects information already. This could be structured data gathered by apps (like your website’s CMS) or unstructured data gathered by teams (like information gathered on customer expectations by sales teams). By visualizing crucial bits of your business data, you could derive several immediate benefits. We cover three big ones below: 

1. You Can Communicate Better with Investors 

It is always better to “show” than “tell.” When you present your findings about your company’s performance this quarter to investors as a graph, for instance, you allow investors (or employees) to derive their own conclusions about how well you’re doing. You can share and print images conveniently in JPG. If you have images to share in a PDF file, you may want to use this to convert a PDF to JPG format to extract and isolate graphics with no impact on the image’s quality.   

2. You Can Make Marketing More Impactful  

A picture is worth a thousand words. Even the catchiest slogans, taglines, and ad copy will only gain so much traction with customers if unaccompanied by relevant graphics. Having relevant visuals can make your marketing material much more memorable to customers. Also, it will make your CTA (call to action) more understandable, thereby improving its effectiveness. 

3. Data Visualization Allows You to Make Better Decisions 

Most business leaders have to take in a huge amount of data to make decisions – think reports, information from surveys, emails, and day-to-day communication with employees. Having relevant data represented visually – such as a real-time inventory stockpiling report – makes it easier for you to understand what’s happening and, so, make more informed business decisions.  You can better understand customers, personalize processes (like marketing), streamline operations, and manage risk. 

Other Ways to Use Data Visualization in Business

Needless to say, the benefits mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Data visualization can be used almost anywhere, from product development to customer care, and everything in between. There are a number of main uses of data visualization: as a tool for brainstorming new ideas, to derive insights from data, to communicate insights, and to structure data visually.   

Use Apps and Tools to Make Visuals Without Design Skills 

As a business leader, you may not have much experience with creating visuals (or the time to draw them). Fortunately, you don’t need to. Most business apps these days have data visualization features built in. For instance, Microsoft Excel supports graphs and charts. 

Challenges to Making Data Visuals 

Just putting data into a graph isn’t effective – it has to be the right data, and the right visual, matched to the right audience. Data visualization can present many challenges to business leaders with little experience with data science. Some examples are below:  

  • Unstructured data: Not all the data your business gathers may be formatted, organized, and easy to represent in a particular way. 

  • Emphasis on beauty over substance: Some focus too much on the aesthetical appeal of the visual over the message being presented. 

  • Lack of literacy: Which visual should you use, which color, for which analysis technique, for which audience, and why? Data science isn’t mastered overnight. 

  • Cost: You could hire data scientists or graphic designers, or similar, but it’s not cheap. 

Go Back to School to Learn More About Data Visualization

With data – and data science – becoming increasingly relevant, it may be a good idea to learn more about it formally from experts by going back to school. It could be a key to success for your business if you’re a business owner (or your career as a manager). You can earn a master’s degree in analytics to better understand data science, including theory and application. If you pursue an online program, you could learn while you work. 

Embrace the Benefits of Data Visualization

Using data visualization can bring you a lot of clarity when dealing with many numbers and statistics. It can help you make better business decisions, design better marketing campaigns, troubleshoot problems, and predict customer behavior better. You can use apps and tools to create data visuals quickly and conveniently. All in all, data visualization is a skill worth cultivating and a practice that deserves more exploration. 

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