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Visualisation techniques revolutionise modern business intelligence gathering

7/07/2014 by


Data scientists and analysts love digging into the architecture of data to grasp its essence, exploring how it works and divining what secrets it may hold. For some expert users, the very complexity of the data is what provides the “thrill of the chase.” However, the average user wants data that’s easy to understand. Visualisation has proven to be the best way to make this happen.

Why does visualisation work so well?

Noah Iliinsky, data consultant and coauthor of Beautiful Visualisation and Designing Data Visualisations, spoke at a LinkedIn Tech Talk about the reason visualisation is so powerful for analytics. “It turns out that our eyes and our brains have very sophisticated software built into them for things like pattern recognition and detecting when there are pattern violations on a variety of factors in terms of position, skew, color, size, blur, shape, etc. They are called ‘pre-attentive properties’. We can detect very quickly when something is different or out of position. If you leverage these well, you can design things where you can get a lot of information into someone’s brain very easily and very quickly.”

Enterprises are demanding more visualization

Business users may not know the science behind the way their brains process data, but they know what works. Presentation is king. Distilling data into the essential intelligence that will inform business decisions is pointless if the resulting reports are visually opaque. According to a recent TDWI white paper on self-service BI, “For information consumers, the results need to be easier to consume and use, and the solution here is to employ more sophisticated visualisation techniques. These vary considerably, from using technologies such asGoogle Maps to display location-specific data, to visualisation approaches such as small multiples, scatter plots, heat maps, enclosure diagrams, node links, arc diagrams, and more. Advanced visualization ranked third highest in the survey for enhanced user interface requirements, with 41% of respondents saying this was a ‘very important’ requirement.”

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