There are two fundamental truths about information and human nature that CEOs and business owners should probably come to grips with:
- We are drowning in data.
- Humans process information through images more effectively than through words alone.
Recognizing these truths, business visualization tools (also called “data visualization” tools) are designed to move past word-heavy reports and similar resources to more effectively communicate business strategy. It’s an extremely useful way to share the lessons learned from data analytics.
The Benefits of Data Visualization
As Tech Republic notes, data visualization is “the graphical representation of information and data using graphs, charts, diagrams,” etc., used to show “non-technical (and technical) business stakeholders what the ‘shape’ of data they are working with really looks like.”
Most businesses these days routinely collect vast amounts of data, related to operations, marketing, customer demographics and other key areas. But until this information is filtered through an analytic process to emerge as Business Intelligence (BI), it’s simply raw data—largely incomprehensible to everyone except trained, experienced business analysts.
Visualization tools transform this raw data into information businesses can use—first, to better grasp pertinent developments or patterns affecting the business, and second, to communicate what this data means to various constituencies.
Recasting data into a narrative form has benefits beyond communicating information. Data visualization can significantly improve the strategic and decision-making processes.
“Telling a great data-driven story can be useful for [making] key observations about your customers and their wants,” notes Forbes, and also “help with lead generation and customer retention.”
Given these benefits, business leaders and department heads throughout the organization should strongly consider incorporating data visualization tools in their presentations.
Know Your Audience
The range of useful software tools in this field is too broad to summarize here (start by taking a look at PC Magazine’s listing of “Best Data Visualization Tools of 2019”). But whatever tools you choose, they should be based on a precise knowledge of the audience you intend to reach.
- Customers. The right tools can explain the benefits of your products or services in a highly visual manner, leading to a boost in lead generation and conversions.
- Investors. Business visualization can effectively communicate current and projected trends in your industry, leading to greater excitement among stakeholders in supporting your strategic growth efforts.
- Employees. The right presentation can answer a wide array of employee questions all at once, such as where the business stands today (in terms of profit and loss, for example) and where you plan to take it tomorrow. Sharing this kind of information also promotes heightened engagement and, down the road, enhanced employee retention.
Tips on the Best Use of Business Visualization
Once you’ve determined the audience for your graph, chart, dashboard, etc., it’s time to judiciously select the data you wish to share.
“Think of yourself as an editor trying to cut down three hours’ worth of footage into a 90-second commercial,” advises Izenda, makers of an embedded analytics platform. The goal is selecting “the most compelling and interesting imagery, while leaving everything else behind.”
Aim for simplicity. It’s tempting to release the unbridled power of data visualization software and go for glitz and zing. Experts suggest resisting that urge and keeping your presentation simple. Your message will likely have more impact that way.
Simple doesn’t mean opting for black-and-white. Using colors in your visuals helps guide the viewer’s eye to information that matters the most.
Finally, keep in mind that you’re telling a story through data visualization. The images you choose should illuminate a narrative or pattern that resonates with your chosen audience.That way, you’re making the most of this advanced and sophisticated means of business communication.