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A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Data Points: 5 Benefits of Data Visualization Tools

Imagine presenting in a meeting and pulling up a series of spreadsheets as a reference. The chance of your audience being able to focus on both your words and the rows of numbers in front of them is slim to none. Yet, there are times in every company’s operations when employees will need to analyze large swaths of data, draw conclusions and share these findings with team members, partners and clients. How can businesses maximize the effectiveness of data analysis?

Two words: data visualization. After all, a picture’s worth a thousand data points.

Here are five benefits of data visualization tools in the workplace.

Resonates with Visual Learners

As many as 65 percent of humans are visual learners. One hallmark of the visual learning style is retaining what’s seen—writing, diagrams, charts, etc.—rather than heard. This means the quickest way to make a connection with over half the room is to turn data into a visual-spatial construct. Just saying that sales in a certain region are up by 12 percent since this time last year is less impactful as being able to back up this assertion with a corresponding visual aid, like a map or line graph.

Makes Trends Evident

Data analysis often feels like an intentional search for that “aha!” moment. Taking data off the spreadsheet page is the first step. After all, it’s difficult to identify trends from rows and columns alone, especially because the sheer volume can be overwhelming. As Analytic Bridge writes, “Data visualization enables decision makers to spot changes in customer behavior and market conditions more quickly.” Visuals can unlock micro- and macro-level trends in an instant.

Helps Identify Places for Improvement

Even if your company is performing well, there’s always room for improvement in margins, untapped revenue streams, project turnaround, day-to-day workflows and more. But research shows “managers in organizations using visual data discovery tools are 28 percent more likely than their peers that just use managed reporting and dashboards to find timely information.”

It’s simple: Finding places for improvement faster means remedying them faster, too. Data visualization tools are poised to help companies see what’s working, what isn’t, what’s changed over time and what needs to change moving forward for better results.

Discovers “Bad Data”

Given that poor quality data cost U.S. companies $3.1 trillion in 2016 alone, it’s evident how important it is to work with the right data to drive conclusions. When leaders base decisions on bad data, it ends up wasting time and propelling the company down dead-end streets. This disconnect is often a result of different data creators, interpreters and recipients entering at different stages in the process. The good news is that data visualization can help weed out faulty premises and shine a spotlight on inaccurate data. Why? Because employees are more likely to notice a visual discrepancy than one hidden in hundreds, thousands or millions of data cells.

Makes Data Interactive

At the end of the day, data visualization makes information more accessible, whether it’s embedded in a dashboard, portal or application. It opens the conversation between clients and agencies; managers and employees; marketers and leadership teams. Being able to engage in visual data analysis takes information that was once static and makes it active.

This is precisely why a picture is worth a thousand data points. Is your company making the most of these five benefits of data visualization tools? Never underestimate the power of being able to convert large loads of company data into the right kind of visual models—it could mean the difference between identifying or missing a trend, weak spot or important insight.

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