Data Visualization and Business Value – A New Partnership in BI

partners 150x150 Data Visualization and Business Value – A New Partnership in BI When I started writing for the Spotfire blog nearly two years ago, I wrote a post on the fact that data visualization (DV) was a growing business need.

Since that post, we’ve seen infographics, video, Pinterest, and other visual forms of communications grow exponentially. And the reason is simple – it’s easier to convey information and value in a visually appealing presentation.

Need a Job? Try DV

In preparation for this post, I searched LinkedIn for a job in data visualization. I received more than 500 openings back with my search. Titles included product manager for data visualization and analytics; data visualization designer; and technical manager for data visualization.

The skillsets required were similar to a wide range of degree options including computer science, software design, marketing, web development skills, as well as work with statistics and large data sets. Interestingly, some postings required “strong working knowledge of one or more off-the-shelf data visualization packages.”

That information supports our theory that data visualization is more than a trend, it’s a business need.

Research & Chatting Up DV

Howard Dresner’s BI Wisdom chat last week centered on this topic. In one of the early Tweets, Dresner (@howarddresner) said, “In our latest study, data visualization ranks extremely high among line of business users.”

Torbjörn Ungvall (@ungvall), a BI business development consultant, said, “Visualization by itself doesn’t create value, it’s a tool to help [get] better insight . . . ”

That statement supports Forrester analyst Boris Evelson’s (@bevelson) recent musings on the Information Management blog. He writes, “There’s just too much information out there for all categories of knowledge workers to visualize it effectively. More often than not, traditional reports using tabs, rows and columns do not paint the whole picture, or even worse, lead an analyst to a wrong conclusion.”

Those are powerful words.

Dipak Bhudia (@Dipak_B), another BI Wisdom chat participant, made a very good argument for DV, “#Spreadsheets probably generate more data than they actually consume, hence #dataviz success is to integrate.”

In response to Bhudia, analytics manager Gregory Lewandowski said, “This is where VDA, Visual Data Analysis, kicks in, allowing analyst[s] to move at the speed of business.”

Too Much Text? Try DV

This topic was a big focus at the recent Text Analytics Summit, where it became clear that we have too much data to depend on keywords. Incorporating text into data visualization was the focus of the discussion in Nicole Laskowski’s recap of the summit.

There’s much area for growth in this field as indicated by the job boards and by a very interesting source – Jason Baron, the director litigation for the National Archives and Records Administration. Baron told Laskowski that the legal industry was behind in its use of data visualization.

He said, “When it’s up to 1 petabyte of information, we can’t deal with it.” As far as Baron is concerned, data visualization can help attorneys express complex concepts such as “who talked to whom and when.”

Next Steps: Data visualization is a big part of the 2012 London Games. We teamed up with Attivio to help fans dig into social media posts with the London Athletes Social Mania App. You can interact with data visualizations and advanced text analytics to gain instant insight into top trending athletes and phrases, including the positive and negative sentiments. Check it out here and tweet us with your thoughts.

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team

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