Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax. Now imagine trying to make a decision without any data. Yikes!
If you’re like us, that idea is pretty scary. Data is an essential component of most organizations and missions. It gives us an idea of how well our organization or mission is doing and what areas can be improved. The good news is, most organizations in 2019 have figured out how important information is to their success.
Close your eyes again. Now imagine having access to far too much data. Do you feel like you’re drowning yet?
This is a much more likely scenario in today’s world, and almost as bad as having no data at all. We’re constantly bombarded by information in every aspect of our lives, and our organizations are no different. We have access to a lot of data – and provide it for our clients and users – but what good are those pages and pages of information on their own? Data is only useful when everyone who needs it can understand it, and most people don’t have the time to actually dig into long lists of information, especially not when interpreting that information is time-critical.
Simply put, data alone doesn’t tell a story.
That’s why data visualization is important.
What is data visualization?
Data visualization is the process of applying graphic design and graphic elements to data in order to better communicate the data and use it to tell a story. Simply put, it takes complex, hard-to-understand raw data and converts it to a format that is easier to comprehend—and actually makes it useful.
To create data visualizations, we turn to data specialists who are essentially the interpreters of the information world. Instead of asking every member of your team to look at raw information and draw conclusions from it, you can have a data specialist turn that information into something more digestible for the rest of your team or your clients.
Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text (as Tesla Government founder Fred Hassani explains). Creating a visual interpretation of your data can make a huge difference, and is why data visualization is so important. The process ends up saving a lot of valuable time you might lose trying to work through text-based data.
Visual representations of information can take many forms, including:
Visualizing unleashes the potential of your data to display complex trends, to show how those complex trends relate to your mission sets, and how to actually see value from the data that you have.
Case Study: Assisting DOD decision making
We had an instance a few years ago where a senior-ranking DOD official wanted to see what was happening in a specific region in the world. Not only that, they wanted to brief this information to the Executive branch and present it in a way that enabled quick decision-making.
If we had just given them a bunch of rows of data to slog through and try to interpret on their own, that wouldn’t have helped the internal clients make the decisions they needed to make. It would have taken up valuable time they simply didn’t have. Having the data on the map uncovered relationships within the data that would otherwise have gone unseen.
Our solution? We gave them a map that had all of that data on it. This gave them the best tool to help make a quick decision, so that they could see a picture, clearly answer the questions that they had, and drive a decision forward.
Case Study: Keeping Tabs on Multiple Regional Projects
We had another engagement with a client dataset where they had numerous projects in a particular region of the world. They were trying to figure out:
- Where those projects were located
- How the projects related to one another
- Where there might be duplication of services
- Where they needed to focus their efforts more
Just seeing numbers in a spreadsheet wouldn’t give them the answers to those questions. So we put everything into a visualization where they could really dig into the data. They could see it all on an interactive map dashboard, with charts and graphs and they could explore and interact with the data.
By creating visualizations for their data, they were able to answer their questions, and from there, they could allocate resources effectively to address the issues that they were trying to address.
Telling Your Story with Data Visualization
The bottom line is that if you’re working with data—and if you really want to make decisions with that data—then you need to be able to leverage it, which is why data visualization is so important. Data visualization can ensure that you’re able to tell your story, so you can help stakeholders make the decisions they need to make, in the time they need to make them.
Are you buried under mountains of raw data?
We help tell your story with Data Visualization