The world of business must grapple with a constant stream of data and information. In this digital age, the amount of information being generated on a daily basis is constantly growing as companies continue to bring more of their operations online. In order to provide results to stakeholders and optimize operations, it’s important to analyze and aggregate all of that data.
Big data has revolutionized the world of business because it offers a more accurate means of analyzing and predicting business trends and what customers want. Data Science has become an extremely coveted field of study as all industries across the world need data scientists to analyze and interpret data to come up with data-driven solutions and strategies. However, in order to reap all of these benefits of big data, it’s essential for them to be analyzed and presented in a manner that can be understood by the relevant personnel. The inability to accurately interpret data can cost businesses 30% in lost revenue.
Data Visualization is the most effective method by which to get employees and the relevant personnel to engage with the data available. Managers who incorporate data visualizations are able to harvest 28% more information than those who don’t. However, most of the data visualization methods used currently are static in form. Using Interactive Data Visualizations offers a whole host of benefits that businesses can use to drive growth faster.
In this article, we’ll explore what Interactive Data Visualizations really are, how they are beneficial, and how they can be used.
What is Interactive Data Visualization?
Data Visualization is the process of using visual aids to give expression to big data.
A simple and static form of data visualization might include spreadsheets, however, these don’t provide the kind of insight that interactive data visualization methods can.
Interactive Data Visualization includes charts, tables, graphs, and interactive displays that the users can actively drill down into and engage with. These give you simplified aggregated access to data, allow you to compare different classes of data, and forecast trends in order to formulate intelligent strategies.
Benefits of Interactive Data Visualization
The following are some of the most important benefits of data visualization.
Time for Action
Interactive data visualization saves a lot of time in data interpretation and refines business operations. As such, more time can be devoted to innovate strategies and act out on the data presented. Live data updates can also be used to deal with situations requiring immediate attention. Furthermore, since interactive data visualizations allow the team to engage and understand the data, they can collaboratively identify problems and offer solutions.
Highlighting Patterns and Trends
Interactive data visualization helps you better understand your customers and market by looking back at past trends and patterns. Once you have identified a pattern, you can use that information to determine how to proceed with operations for the future. Patterns are almost impossible to identify through traditional static forms of data visualization like spreadsheets.
Users can zoom out to look at the big picture of market trends and data. They can also focus on specific issues, time periods, actions, etc., and go through their details. As such, users have the ability to take specific action by going through the specific data they need at the moment, as opposed to sifting through irrelevant data.
Direct Interaction with Data
You can directly interact with real-time data as opposed to using static graphs and tables which can only be viewed. Let’s take the example of sales for product X. A spreadsheet will only tell you that the sales for product X are rising. Maps can help you identify which areas the sales are coming from and which areas or service/product segments are under-performing. Furthermore, interactive data visualization techniques like territory mapping can help you zone into a specific region and identify its needs, thus empowering you to take corrective measures like hiring a sales individual to cover that territory. Furthermore, this level of interaction can be achieved via any gadget, even while you’re on the move.
Our minds can process images faster than text. As such, if you map out all of the relevant data in the form of engaging graphics, it can easily be understood by people, making it more shareable to the public. Although it is important to have good governance controls over your data and visualizations to maintain proper data security.
Employees Understand their Company Better
Interactive data visualization can be used to showcase the company’s growth trajectory and annual figures without confusing or boring employees. Once employees better understand where the company stands, they are able to have a deeper insight into areas that can be improved. This allows them to act accordingly and rectify pain points. For example, effective interactive data visualization can help a company’s marketing employees determine what channels to allocate their budget towards and support their point of view regarding channel spend to the stakeholders.
How to Maximize the Utility of your Interactive Data Visualization
The following strategies can be incorporated to design engaging interactive data visualizations.
Optimizing for the End-User
Who are you presenting the data to? Is it to the manager, the consumer, the accountants, HR, or stakeholders? You need to structure your data visualization for your target audience specifically.
Tell a Story
You need to use your data visualization to tell a story. This will help add focus to your presentation and make it more actionable. What are you trying to convey through the presentation? What actions would you like your audience to take? Answering these questions will help you structure the right data visualization.
Visualizations work best when they are focused and concise. Don’t present information that is irrelevant to the scope of your basic “story”. Get rid of graphic elements that detract from your core thesis.
Your interactive visualization should be valid for a long period so you can save time if you need to make changes in the future. In order to assert its continued relevance, you need to make sure that it can be easily updated.
Examples of Interactive Data Visualization
The following are some of the most popular and effective examples of interactive data visualization methods that you can use.
• Sankey Diagrams: These are used to explain and map the flow of data, generally used for traffic measurement, data flow between network nodes, and consumption patterns.
• Tree Ring Diagrams: These can be used to chart out the hierarchies of how data interacts in a network.
• Collapsible Tree Diagrams: You can start at an initial point and then create branches depending on various different decisions and their ultimate outcomes. It helps to visualize what the outcome for different decisions will be.
• Heat Map Diagrams: If your data relies on geographical locations, you can use these diagrams to make comparisons.
Common Uses for Interactive Data Visualization
Interactive Data Visualization can prove useful in the following situations:
• Analyzing the flow of traffic on a website along with information regarding page session duration, bounce rate, conversions, etc.
• Highlighting network configurations in IT.
• Highlighting potential outcomes for various investments.
• Tracking investments over time and making future predictions.
Interactive Data Visualization is the ideal method by which to display information and data to the relevant individuals. It can help you skyrocket your business’ productivity, devise strategies for growth, and take considered actions after analyzing past patterns and market trends.