Data become valuable if the whole organization can make use of them. If data are confined to the Finance or IT department, only they can benefit from the insight they bring them. But for high-value data analysis or converting data to insight and action for all departments, more is needed than merely an overview with rows and columns.
What is big data analysis?
As a result of our digital behavior and the digitization of processes the amount of data generated in companies is constantly increasing. While we had already become used to working with financial data for example, we have in the meantime learned to use the unique insights provided by those data to help us in forecasting and guiding our work in the right direction.
More data of course also potentially lead to more insight, for instance for the benefit of marketing and sales where we are gaining a better grasp of customer behavior. However, larger volumes of data are also harder to analyze. Fortunately, the relevant technology for this has become ever more powerful. In the cloud we can bring together larger quantities of data, control them, and analyze them using state-of-the-art data analysis tools.
What is data visualization?
The value of data seems evident to everyone, but it remains difficult to bring out that value to the full. Data becomes usable as information only when professionals in the field analyze and interpret patterns in the data.
This was never a problem for financial data. Financial experts, who for years have been the main practitioners of data analysis, are good with figures and can competently convert data into insight and action. For many other professionals this is less the case, and this is where data visualization comes into focus. Many people are visual, and clearly visualizing data helps them to properly interpret the data and translate data into professional insights.
Through the use of diagrams for instance, graphs and maps, effective data visualization makes data easier to understand and accessible to everyone. It enables professionals to gain insights from patterns and salient features in the visualized data, helping them to discern particular trends. In this way, in the hands of a marketeer, customer data become a valuable asset.
The advantages of effective data visualization tools
Modern data visualization tools ensure that professionals are increasingly able to conduct data analyses by themselves. Moreover, combined with a modern data platform in the cloud, organizations can harvest ever more data sources and link them to one another.
Also, these modern and smart data platforms can be linked with data visualization tools. High-quality tool sets generate uniquely powerful possibilities for data professionals such as data scientists and business intelligence specialists, enabling them to develop standard dashboards through which team members or various teams can share uniform insights.
This is also the point where data become a genuine value for the organization. As soon as several people start to work together on the basis of data-driven insights, organizations immediately gain in speed, impact and efficiency. If marketing and sales, for instance, respond to market trends quicker and in a clearly targeted way on the basis of new insights they have gained, they can make clearly geared improvements to various interactions with customers. At the same time, the organization will be able to adapt products and services more quickly to changed customer requests and serve customers more quickly. The financial experts in the organization will immediately see this reflected in their dashboards, e.g., as regards turnover.
From data visualization to data analysis
Data volumes are growing, tools are getting better and ever more employees can in this way arrange their work more effectively and more efficiently. This is exactly why data-driven work appears so high on the strategic agenda of management. More and more organizations are adopting data-driven work. Those lagging behind notice that their competitors are speeding up and not only continuously improve their operational processes through data analysis but also use data to procure, serve and retain customers.
The degree to which employees are able to make creative use of data and technology has led to a competitive advantage. Companies lagging behind therefore have to quickly make sure to start using data analysis and data visualization. But those in the lead still have room for improvement. Where the spread of data analysis and data visualization within the organization has already engendered considerable progress, the next step is often to deepen analyses, deploy data science and create forecasting models.
This leads to larger data sets, more interconnections between various parts of the company and greater complexity of the results. What we see is that designers and UI/UX specialists are engaged to reduce complexity. By benefiting from data visualization, organizations can divide more complex connections among several specialized professionals. To be able to carry out cross-functional data analyses, professionals from various disciplines need to work together. Uniformity of design is greatly conducive to linking up professional disciplines and acquiring new insights.
This completes the circle. Data analysis can be used to full potential throughout the business through data visualization, while we can use data visualization to appeal to larger groups of employees and get them to work together or address more complex cross-functional issues.