Why Every Organization Needs a Data Visualization Plan

 

Our friends over at Litcom are doing some interesting work, helping their clients get the most out of their data. If you feel your organization could take advantage of a tool that helps you present decision makers with simple visualizations showing the relationships among data from different systems, please share this blog with your colleagues in Marketing or Information Technology (IT).

 

by guest blogger Steve Litwin from Litcom

It’s no secret that data is one of today’s most valuable business assets, and organizations collect a seemingly infinite amount of it. The challenge, however, is that much of that information remains isolated in individual systems: your sales and marketing data resides in your CRM (customer relationship management system), your ERP (enterprise resource planning system) tracks your supply chain and inventory, your financial system tracks the flow of money and creates statements. With this kind of partitioning, it’s tough to put data to work and find meaningful trends across systems to help management make the best decisions.

Data visualization tools can help make sense of all this information by pulling and compiling data, and generating visual reports that let you take both a bird’s eye view and drill down into the nitty gritty. Data visualization can help decision makers see connections between multi-dimensional data sets and lets you see the impact of operating conditions on business performance in live data. You can also experiment with what if scenarios, which will help you test strategy. Your data may reveal opportunities to generate revenue or help you understand shifts in customer behavior and market conditions across multiple data sets more quickly.

How to get started with data visualization

First off, you’ll need to determine whether your particular organization would benefit from using data visualization tools. This will ultimately be based on what the business users want to see and the level of functionality required. It’s essential that a spectrum of business users are involved in this analysis, from executives and operational workers who will base business decisions on visualized data to the power-user analysts who are likely to handle the job of crafting visualizations. Your IT managers must also be involved and ensure that the back end system will be able to handle the visualization load.

Some organizations already have some form of business intelligence (BI) or analytics tool in place, so be sure to consider the benefits and limitations they provide. The field has come a long way and there are fantastic full-suite providers available like Qlik, so be sure to consider all your options.

Once you have chosen your system and provider you need to dig into the details. Decide what insights you want your data to reveal. You need to start with clearly defined objectives and then work to create the right kind of data visualization. It’s easy to let it happen the other way—letting the visualization lead you to the insights.

Fine-tuning your data visualization can be challenging but is most important in making your insights actionable. Don’t get bogged down in complexities and make sure your message is clear. Here are some questions to ask yourself throughout the process to stay on point:

Is it easily understood?  Keep your design clean by removing and simplifying until nothing stands between the message and the audience. Resist the temptation to add design elements just because you can. In visualization, the best design is the one you don’t see.

Does it tell a story?  Focus on one data visualization per story; there’s no need to create the mother-of-all visualizations. Too often people want to present all the data in a single visualization that can answer many questions and tell many stories, but effective visualizations are closer to a one-visualization-to-one-story ratio.

Is it actionable?  Does the visualization provide visual clues to show how it should be used or to direct the audience’s attention? Before you even know what the numbers say, the design of the visualization should compel you to worry or celebrate.

 


The Litcom Approach
Litcom is an official Qlik Partner. We help organizations turn a vast array of data into valuable information that drives decision-making in a corporation. Our solutions ensure that all data has clear definitions and a fully understandable presentation to users. Contact us today for your free consultation: info@litcom.ca

Leave a Reply