When data speaks to business

Olesia Stetsiuk posted on July 7th, 2016

It is not a novel concept that data visualization is crucial for efficient business reporting. Essentially the purpose of reports is to decode abstract data into visual stories which can be understood in an efficient, precise, and meaningful way. Thus, business leaders need to invest in the ability to gather ideas and insights from their data through visualisation.


Among main benefits for executives, visual data displaying gives optimal support for the following:

  • Observing the big picture. As CEO is responsible for strategic development seeing the big picture is fundamental for any executive.
  • Recognising and analysing patterns and relationships among values. Taking actions in a business environment requires a deeper understanding of possible consequences based on the knowledge and a bit of intuition.
  • Identifying appearing trends faster. The speed of making decisions can play a significant role for competing in today’s global world.

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    Precisely, data visualization tools and techniques allow managers to upgrade their capability to grasp information hiding in their data. Why is data visualization so powerful for this purpose? Because it shifts the parity between seeing and thinking to take an edge of the brain’s strengths. In other words, perception is remarkably quick and effective, we see instantly, with some work. Cognition is much belated and less productive. Consequently, data visualization tools and techniques which are moving toward the bigger use of visual observation gain benefits of our ruling eyes whenever possible. In conjunction with this notion, it is no wonder that data visualization is only favourable to the degree that it communicates information in a way that our eyes can easily distinguish and our brains can get. At least, consuming information in new and more valuable manners to see connections may be impossible if we had to perceive a lot of views one at a time, due to the boundaries of our working memory. Earlier we had already mentioned crucial characteristics of a proper data visualisation.

    Indeed, expressing data graphically in a proper manner may be much more a science than an art. This task can be only accomplished by investigating human perception. Current insights into visual perception and cognition are emerging from works in multiple disciplines besides information visualization, but none are more innovative than those originating from the cognitive sciences, primarily cognitive psychology. Now, with modern technologies and methodologies for brain research, possibilities to advance the perceptual effectiveness of data visualization overflow. Scientists are studying a variety of issues on the topic such as mechanisms and limitations of attention and memory and preattentive visual processing. The last one is about automatically occurring image in the brain which is former to conscious awareness.

    We identify distinct characteristics of the visual information carried in the light that bounces off the surfaces of objects, which is then joined together into a representation in our mind’s eye of that object. Thus, we can utilize these basic qualities, such as variations in length, size, tone, color intensity, viewpoint, texture, form, and so on, as the construction pieces of data visualization. Previously we had also written about data visualisation on the service of Sherlock Holmes as a metaphor for conducting exploratory data analysis.


    To sum up, one of the great powers of data visualization is human capacity to treat visual stories much more quickly than verbal or numerical information. As one old idiom says – seeing is believing. As data visualizations become more interactive, it will become accessible for business people to examine their numbers on the fly. Great data visualization techniques and technologies, accurately used, can enlarge our thinking into new areas of analytical sensemaking. And looking at current progress in the area of brain research along with technological advances it seems that a great journey is waiting for us ahead.

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