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The Importance of Data Visualization

Technology has made the world a much more convenient but also complicated place. The advent of databases gave way to search algorithms and eventually led to the glut of information that we call Big Data today. The volume of information available today is staggering and is constantly growing. According to TechJury, 90% of all data has been created in the last two years, and internet users generate roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.

Data is so vital that the Economist claimed in 2017 that data has edged oil out as the world’s most important resource. Likewise, the importance of data has been acknowledged as a primary means for businesses to analyze their performance and decide how to move forward with their operations. According to a survey conducted by New Vantage, 97.2% of companies are investing in Big Data and AI (artificial intelligence) initiatives.

It’s clear that data plays a huge part in today’s business world, but the complexity of that data cannot be overstated. Data is a handy tool, but humans struggle with large numbers like the 2.5 quintillions above bytes of data generated daily. Daniel Ansari, a researcher at the Numerical Cognition Laboratory at Western University in Canada, says on data comprehension, “The main obstacle is that we’re dealing with numbers that are too large for us to have experience perceptually.”

In other words, you believe what you can see. This is why data visualization is essential for making the most of today’s information.

Making the Most of Data with Visualization

Data visualization is vital in increasing our ability to consume data and derive value from the information presented. While numbers like 2.5 quintillions are nearly impossible to fathom, visual representations help us make relations to data that use terms and ideas with which we are familiar. There are three primary goals of data visualization: exploration, education, and engagement.

1. Data Exploration

Data visualization makes it easier to explore relationships and patterns present in the data compared to other forms of presentation, such as tables or plain text communications. In addition, visual aids help speed up the data analysis process and discover the implications behind the raw information.

2. Data Education

Utilizing data visualization as a learning aid helps people to assimilate information and better understand the evolution of trends over time. Graphs and infographics can express detailed and extensive knowledge in clear and concise ways that are easier to digest when compared to long-form written documents or bloated lists. The audience can grasp the weight of the information quickly, making their observations and conclusions about the implications of the data.

3. Data Engagement

Data visualization aids in creating a more appealing presentation or piece of communication. Graphics enhance engagement by drawing in the audience and providing information more easily. The audience can connect with the visualized data in ways they would not be readily able to in the case of raw data formatted in bulleted lists or overwhelmingly dense tables that would be necessary to convey the same amount of information.

The next time you create a presentation, put together an informational booklet or compose an email with data analytics, consider whether that data could be better understood or more easily explained using data visualization techniques. Of course, not every piece of communication necessitates graphics, but they can go a long way in reducing the time it takes to absorb data and the likelihood that the information will stick with your audience afterward.

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