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In this data-driven era, where big data is getting bigger by the day, making sense out of this vast data can seem like a challenge for businesses. Data visualization tools, which are a part of the business intelligence umbrella, help companies make sense of their massive data stores by providing graphical representations of key information. These data visualization tools make it easy for non-IT users to quickly view and decipher raw data in an easy-to-understand format and assess it to make better and more informed decisions.
Data visualization solutions are particularly valuable for illustrating raw data that can be presented to leaders or clients who want to quickly understand important insights and trends without diving deep into the data themselves.
We’ve prepared this guide to help you select the right data visualization tool for your business. Here is what we’ll cover:
What are the different types of data visualization software?
What are the benefits of data visualization software?
Data visualization software helps businesses interpret data with the help of interactive dashboards and other visualization techniques. The solution does so by translating heaps of data into various visualization forms such as reports, bar charts, scatter plots, tables, timelines, and graphs. This makes it easy for companies to comprehend data and spot trends or patterns in it.
Data visualization software can be used in multiple ways depending upon the precise requirements of the businesses. Some common ways in which proper data visualization can help a company reach its goals are:
Deciphering digital information: Business data nowadays is stored online, be it the numbers related to user interaction, customer experience, employee performance, or overall expenditure. Deciphering this data into a form that is easily understood by everyone and can be acted upon is really important. Data visualization techniques help translate this data to intuitively understandable imagery that businesses can share and act on. The output of this translated data could be in the form of a business metric or key performance indicator (KPI).
Revealing fraud and anomalies: Manually reviewing a large volume of data can lead to an erroneous interpretation that can pose a serious threat to businesses that rely on data accuracy. Data visualization tools and techniques such as simple charts, tables, and graphs can quickly highlight significant discrepancies in readings, signaling precisely where more careful reviewing of the numbers may be necessary.
No matter what your line of business is, visualizing and interpreting business data will always remain an area of utmost importance. This is the reason data visualization has become indispensable for businesses as it quickly identifies data trends from large amounts of data, which could otherwise be a hassle. The pictorial representation of datasets in the form of a dashboard, graph, infographic, map, interactive chart, video, or presentation allows users to visualize concepts and new patterns. Visualizing this data enables decision-makers to interrelate it and find better insights. Here are a few reasons why data visualization is beneficial:
Better data analysis: Analyzing data with the help of different visualization forms helps business stakeholders focus on the areas that require immediate attention. It helps businesses understand the key points needed to make critical business decisions. For instance, whether it is a sales report or a marketing strategy, a visual representation of data makes its analysis and understanding better and more straightforward.
Quick decision-making: Processing visualizations is far easier than diving deep into data-heavy reports. Data visualizations make it easy to communicate the overall idea. With this, decision-makers can quickly take action based on the new data insights.
Making sense of data: Data visualization helps businesses gain insights into their vast amounts of data. The interactive data visualization tools help businesses recognize new patterns and trends in the data. This, in turn, helps them pay attention to areas that indicate red flags or progress.
Data visualization enables professionals such as data analysts and data science managers to analyze information smoothly, gain insights from it and discover trends to help businesses make critical decisions. Let’s look at a few ways data visualization software can assist users in gaining intelligence from their data:
Pie chart: A pie chart is one of the most common data visualization types that usually represents one static number. It is divided into categories that constitute its portions. For instance, this visualization type finds application in representing market share, marketing expenditure, customer demographics, device usage, online traffic sources, among other statistics.
Timelines: Another way of tracking business metrics is plotting data in a time series. With data visualization software, businesses can constantly adjust parameters to adjust both the metrics considered (e.g., revenue, profit, or margins) and the relevant time frame.
Geographical maps: This visualization type is helpful for users who want to pinpoint location-based strengths and weaknesses. Data visualization software offering this visualization type can help users discover geographical trends that may have gone unnoticed in traditionally analyzed datasets.
Heat maps: A two-dimensional data visualization type, heat maps utilize colors to represent different values. They provide users with a quick way to understand how these values are performing relative to one another with the help of colors. For instance, a heat map analyzing web page engagement might show high engagement times with red, orange, and yellow colors, while the areas with less user interaction might appear in blue, green, and purple.
Workflow representations: These data visualization techniques allow users to quickly understand the progress of a particular item within a project. By allowing users to view individual workflows under multiple levels of a larger project, both employees and seniors can understand where certain activities stand at a glance.
Some of the benefits of deploying data visualization tools have been listed below:
Quick access to information: Companies can utilize data visualization to access real-time information. For instance, when businesses adopt visual data-discovery tools, it allows them to improve their ability to extract relevant insights and information from large datasets. Data visualization tools help the business extract and uncover hidden trends and patterns from large datasets such as profits, losses, KPIs, etc. This enables organizations to maintain their relevance in their respective increasingly competitive industries.
Better communication: Manual business reports usually comprise lengthy text, static tables, and different types of charts, which often fail to highlight critical information. However, with data visualization tools, the reports generated have interactive elements and formats that not only represent valuable business findings but also convey complex data on operational and market conditions through a series of graphics.
Quick trend identification: If you are not leveraging data and uncovering insights from it quickly, you are losing out on business opportunities. The faster you can analyze data, extract insights, and realize them into actionable business decisions, the stronger your foothold will be in the industry. Data visualization tools help you achieve precisely that. Data visualization solutions can capture pivotal business data, including changes in market trends, shifts in customer behavior, and changes in business performance.
Saves time: Without data visualization tools, businesses would have to spend a lot of their time customizing reports as per the requirements of their clients and other stakeholders. The use of data visualization tools helps optimize and instantly retrieve data via tailor-made reports, which saves employees their time.
The breadth and depth of data visualization tools will vary depending on the type of solution and unique business needs. Regardless of that, most data visualization software usually have some or all of the following functionalities in common:
Basic visualizations: Choose from a plethora of visuals and graphic types (e.g., infographics, heat maps, fever charts).
Data/event alerts: Let users know when data is updated or certain events occur with the help of alerts.
Data visualization sharing: Share visualizations and dashboards with internal and external parties.
Import/export: Import Microsoft Excel and other data files and export visualizations into different formats, and embed them into web pages.
Custom dashboards: Build dashboards that share specific information with users.
Custom reports: Create and share custom reports as per business requirements.
Dataset management: Manage large heaps of datasets.
Self-service analytics: Manage datasets and build reports without IT assistance.
Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) can substantially benefit from embracing data visualization tools as a process of gaining insights from data and its visual interfaces. The main objective of data visualization tools is to help businesses visualize data and communicate information clearly and accurately. Luckily, several data visualization tools are available for SMBs that are cost-effective and have free versions.
Let’s look at how data visualization tools can help SMBs:
SMBs are comparatively smaller businesses and are at the initial stage where all involved stakeholders need to understand the bigger picture of the business to make informed decisions. Data visualization tools help a large volume of information to be represented visually, which is easier to understand and remember.
SMBs need to track their performance more frequently than stable large enterprises. SMBs spend more time and resources creating reports manually, which is not practical as the business grows. A data visualization tool that automatically updates the dashboard with critical insights helps these businesses more than those monthly manual reports.
SMBs may not have the capacity and budget to hire someone who would analyze large datasets and create complex performance reports. Therefore, deploying a reasonably priced data visualization tool is a much better option as it helps communicate the message.
Data visualization tools help SMBs with analytics, understanding past and current trends, and forecasting the future direction of the business. Data visualization tools help SMBs identify issues in the business flow faster than textual reports.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.