If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.
Ronald Coase, Economist
Hans Rosling was a physician, academic, statistician and public speaker who could make data sing….he recently passed away at the age of 68. He finds a place of honor in blog of Bill Gates [gatesnotes]. Hans could make a boring subject of statistics all the more interesting and literally could make the data sing and convey his thoughts effectively across his audience to drive home his efforts in overall improving global health awareness. I came to know about him in the TED talks gallery – he gave a mindblowingTED talk in2006 which has till date over 11 million views .His accomplishment includes building a software to highlight the statistical data for the masses to understand and take note. Taking this ahead, I borrow the slang –“ make data sing“ – Let me refer to it as breathing life into the data by using appropriate visualization tools . The visualization platform needs to be easy to use and have capability to query the data base and render the results as perceivable widget.
Telecom to manufacturing industries are moving towards big data and that spells more need for analytics to do number crunching and present the data to help the stakeholders to take informed decisions and further the business. One may argue about the following role.
- User Experience/User Interface role – make present the data meaningfully, UX/UI team responsibility is to bring in soothing consistency that is acceptable to human eye. They lend the color,font, and spacing,padding and giving resting space for the eye.
- Developer – uses the visualization tool / widgets and ensures the data fetching queries are optimized for performance.
Solution Provider – The technology Subject Matter Expert (SME) breathes life into the data by identifying the correct Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that need to be rendered on the reports /dashboards to tell the story. Every wireframe design is a challenge for the solution provider to unlock the potential of the captured data.
- Appropriate qualitative widgets to express the trend or behavior of the system being monitored and make sense of it for the user to take informed decisions
- Presenting the data in sequential manner adds value and helps the user in better comprehension.
- Visualization entails playing around with two types of data – the aggregated and the raw (near real time )
- Improving data presentation through transparency.
- Early warning on violations for proactive action
- Data should be used for accountability of teams.
- Connect the data point to present the true story.
- The elevator pitch of visualization is to make the data sing and present the bigger picture.
The Business intelligence tool of choice should be so powerful that data set rendered on the report/dashboard has the potential to change the user mind set .Be able facilitate drawing inferences. We need to articulate ways visualization can aid in business analytics. Data driven or fact based decision making is enabled by accessing the details quickly thereby data visualization helps process data faster…also aka picture superiority effect
“So if data is the new currency then visualization makes the data sing”
[The views expressed in this article are my personal]
Lt Col Avadhut Deshpande, (Retd) Signals