What is visual analytics and why use?

Visual analytics help people see data in a way that is easier to understand. We use pictures or graphical representations of numbers so we can quickly sort information and know what it means. Because pictures are processed 60,000 X faster than text, visual analytics can help us learn faster and retain information longer.

figur visualanalyticscomponents

Why use?

As business people, we use visual analytics to increase our understanding of the world around us. To help us understand processes and do them more effectively. To help us foresee and influence outcomes based on previous patterns. To help us see where there is a problem - so we can fix it - or an opportunity - that we don’t want to miss.

In organizations, managers and leaders have traditionally been the driving force behind analytics. Analytics are used to help understand operating environments, improve performance and achieve goals: whether those are higher revenues, increased productivity, greater cost-effectiveness, or higher employee engagement or customer loyalty.

According to research carried out by MIT and IBM, top-performing companies are twice as likely to apply analytics to activities. Organizations need to know what is happening now, what is likely to happen next and what actions should be taken to get the optimal results. Salesforce reports that “high-performing sales teams are 3.5 X more likely than underperforming teams to use sales analytics. Across teams at all levels, we’ll see a 58% increase in sales analytics use from 2015 to 2016.”


If you are considering visual analytics, you probably have a good idea what you want to achieve. That is good! The more you know about the kinds of questions you want to answer or the metrics you want to track, the happier you will be with the outcomes.

Whatever your specific goals may be, you should expect to receive the following benefits:

Top 5 Benefits

  1. Deeper understanding – Simpler way for everyone in the organization to gain knowledge, understand what is going on and what they can do to influence outcomes.

  2. Faster access to knowledge – Calculations and graphics are based on underlying data. If the underlying data is real-time, it is possible to get real time updates and dynamically see data changing. Otherwise, visual analytics are updated at pre-set intervals such as hourly, or daily.

  3. Greater relevancy – Analytics should be role based so that people across the organization access relevant data and insights based on their specific goals, targets or objectives.

  4. Improved accuracy – When data comes from a single source or is joined into a single source, everyone should have access to the same information. This eliminates misunderstandings about report versions and ensures that decisions are made on current, not outdated, information.

  5. Less manual reporting – It can take time to gather data and keep report updated. In a visual analytics tool, graphics, charts and tables are updated without manual intervention.

A final, small thought in the world of ‘Big data’

Visual analytics may sound advanced – and sometime it is. That doesn't mean, however, that it must be complicated. There are large communities of users that are experiencing significant benefits without lots of fuss. Small and medium size businesses can measure KPIs, empower workers with better insight, and make processes more transparent.

Good luck and best wishes for success on your analytics journey. 

Sources:

  1. http://blog.wyzowl.com/power-visual-communication-infographic
  2. Winter 2011, MIT Sloan Management Review
  3. Salesforce, State of Sales 2015

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