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3 ways to improve data visualization processes

Organizations are collecting more data than ever before to identify any potential leads where they can improve their operations and better serve their target audience. With the increasing use of tablets, smartphones and other wireless-enabled devices, there are more sources of information that are streaming metrics relating to how consumers use their hardware and what potential issues they may be running into. While these statistics can be immensely useful, digging through the mass of data can be taxing and complex. Businesses are increasingly using reporting tools to analyze their available information and group elements together to create a comprehensive picture of important elements.

Have a good view of the data
When it comes to reporting and analysis, there are many different approaches that companies can take to carry out these processes successfully. Midsize Insider noted that having a business view of the information will help improve agility and reduce the risk of errors. However, organizations must also be willing to search beyond traditional solutions to keep up with the fast-paced marketplace and have relevant data to leverage. These qualities are integral to maintaining business continuity and driving effective decisions to streamline processes and enforce positive changes. By having an overall view of the data and an understanding of how it can affect functionality, companies can create strategies to use it appropriately.

"In order to achieve the business agility they seek and reduce IT costs, IT managers at midsize firms work with vendors that understand various solutions and how they can fit into a growing firm's infrastructure," Midsize Insider stated. "With the proper groundwork in place that considers security and business goals, agility can be achieved."

Ask the right questions
Data analytics and visualization have become more complex as the amount of information collected continues to increase. This makes it important to ask certain questions to verify that the metrics are being leveraged to their full potential. Harvard Business Review contributor Nancy Duarte suggested that companies should ask if the data is memorable and how the metrics are being presented and circulated. After clarifying these points, decision makers will need to determine if the visual fits the situation, how accurate the numbers are and if the compilation represents the intended message. By addressing each of these components, organizations can be sure that their report shows the best portrayal of the statistics.

"By answering these five questions as you're laying out your data, you'll visualize it in a way that helps people understand and engage with each point in your presentation, document or deck," Duarte wrote. "As a result, your audience will be more likely to adopt your overall message."

Getting the most out of big data visualizations
No matter what type of report designer an organization uses, it's still important to show facts in a way that will readily make sense to the audience viewing the image. Baseline Magazine noted that if the data is lost in the representation or the business environment is not taken into account, it will be much more difficult to get the point across. Companies will be able to see more value from their efforts by starting with smaller projects and constantly evaluating how it can improve its data processes. This will help establish stronger decision making and ensure that bad information is identified and handled quickly.

"An increasing number of organizations have realized that the variety, volume and velocity of information require not only new applications, but a new mindset," industry author Phil Simon said. "The most intelligent companies today understand the importance of data discovery and exploration—not merely conventional enterprise reporting. Interactive heat maps, tree maps and choropleths [thematic maps] promote true data discovery more than static graphs and pie charts."


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