What is data visualisation?
Data visualisation is something of a current buzz word and like most new labels there is some confusion around just what it means but as with many things in life it is really quite simple and literal.
Look at the two words: data, a set of facts or information is a definition which suits most people and visualisation, to form an image of an object, situation or set of information. Putting the two together and data visualisation is simply a pictorial representation of a set of data.
Using data visualisation the data is presented in graphs and charts.
Now it’s all online.
Of course data visualisation is not a new term but in days gone by it was done using charts and graphs on paper based reports or flip charts but now of course it is all online which has the added advantage of being dynamic. So, not only can you see your businesses data in a fancy online dashboard but it can update in real time as the data updates.
Using date search parameters, historic data can also be viewed.
An extra layer of interpretation can be added to this by writing algorithms which can throw variables into the equation letting the data owner ask what if questions. Not only will patterns and trends become more obvious but with enough data in the system future predictions can even be made allowing for greater accuracy in forward planning.
Data can be viewed at a macro level and drilled down to a micro level with the ability to compare and contrast sets of data. Login permissions can be tiered so all data can be viewed by the top tier down to individuals only able to see data pertaining to them.
Who can benefit from data visualisation?
The application of data visualisation is endless but could include:
- Sales monitoring – lead source, conversions, targets, actuals.
- Human Resources – leave monitoring, training records, staff skill sets, staff retention.
- Inventory management – sales trends, stock levels, expiration dates.
- Vehicle fleet performance and maintenance.
- Minesite and manufacturing – production targets, production actuals, location performance, seasonal variance.
Where does the data come from?
Data can be pulled from a number of public and private sources depending on the application and industry involved. It could be internal data already stored on a CRM or data entered on the fly during the normal course of business operations. There is a range of public data available often via an API such as Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
Where to from here.
So you think data visualisation is a process that could be useful in your business but you don’t know where to start.
There are a number of off the shelf programs you can buy and even have modified for your needs. The drawback can be firstly finding someone to modify and implement the system for you and then of course an off the shelf product is always going to be a compromise. Not to mention the cost. Initially the cost may seem attractive but it is wise to look at the ongoing licensing fees as these can quickly add up.
The other option is to have a system built for your business. Initial set up cost may be a little more but you are master of your own destiny and you can have a system designed to suit your unique situation.
There are pros and cons for both arguments, however, if you think a purpose built solution is worth looking at, Spinoff Digital has expertise in this area.