Visualising Success: Harnessing the Power of Information VisualisationIbrat Siddiqui Published on: May 3, 2023
A simplistic definition of Visualisation would be, the act or an example of creating an image, etc., to represent something. While this description is accurate on the surface, it tends to undersell the true power and potential of visualization. This narrow view often results in visualization being undervalued and underappreciated.
When we think of plots used to represent data, we may envision mundane bar graphs and pie charts filled with sales data or other dull statistics. It might seem strange to claim that visualization can save lives, but history has proven that it can. Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, utilized a coxcomb diagram (a type of uneven pie chart) to convince Queen Victoria to allocate funds to improve hospital conditions. Nightingale's visualization demonstrated that more soldiers were dying from poor sanitary conditions while receiving medical care than on the battlefields. Her innovative use of visualization prompted life-saving changes and underscores its transformative potential.
What separates humans from animals is our ability to use languages to communicate our specific thoughts and views. Visualization should be seen through a similar lens, as good plots are akin to a well-written essay that conveys the right information in a concise manner. The principle of "less is more" applies to both essays and visualizations, ensuring that the audience's attention is focused on the most important aspects. By refining our approach to visualization, we can better appreciate its impact on decision-making and communication.
In today's data-driven world, a myriad of tools and methods exist for creating visualizations that cater to various user needs and preferences. Drag-and-drop software, such as Tableau and Power BI, simplifies the process by enabling users with minimal technical expertise to generate insightful visualizations. Microsoft Excel is an accessible option for creating basic charts and plots, while also providing a platform for organizing and analyzing raw data.
For those proficient in programming, Python and R offer specialized packages and libraries, such as Matplotlib and ggplot2, which allow for highly customizable and intricate visualizations. Each tool provides unique advantages, enabling users to choose the option that best fits their requirements and level of expertise in data visualization.
Visualizations are crucial for identifying patterns, trends, or anomalies within data, which might signal potential problems or opportunities. In the realm of analytics, business intelligence leverages these visualizations to transform raw data into actionable insights. This empowers decision-makers to make informed choices based on the visual evidence presented to them.
Essentially, visualization serves as the "eyes" of business intelligence, enabling users to spot issues or areas for improvement. Analytical models provide the means to explore and address those identified concerns more deeply, delving into the underlying causes and potential solutions. Together, visualization and analytics form a powerful toolkit for driving data-driven decision-making and business success.
In conclusion, it's essential to recognize and appreciate the true potential of visualization. Far from being a mere representation of data, it has the power to save lives and businesses when used effectively. By exploring the various tools and techniques available for creating visualizations, we can harness this power and make a meaningful impact on the world around us. So, whether you're an analyst, a decision-maker, or simply someone interested in understanding complex data, remember that visualization is much more than just creating images – it's a powerful, life-changing tool that deserves our attention and respect.