Data visualizations in business are essential for decision making. Enterprise data visualization helps to make analytics and trends easily understandable. But it is problematic if the visualization tools are used poorly. This article provides expert tips to design your visualizations and deliver the maximum value for your business.
1) Keep your enterprise data visualization simple
Even though the analytics process behind enterprise data visualization can be highly complex, the visualization itself does not need to be.
“Choose simplicity and elegance when building enterprise data visualization,” advises Daren Brabham, senior director analyst at research firm Gartner. “There are limitations regarding what the human brain can process efficiently when it comes to visual information. So, keep the visuals clean and easy to digest quickly.”
“This is particularly important when building dashboards and reports that are intended for executive audiences. Many of our clients are refining dashboards for executives and managers by exploring interactive elements and building summary scores. They look to red-yellow-green-type meters to more quickly communicate lots of data in simpler ways,” Brabham says.
Keep it simple with limited graphs, KPIs key performance indicators clearly positioned. And provide the necessary supportive instructional information so users can understand the construct of the data visual, associated nuances, etc. It is observed that if the enterprise data visualization is too complex to navigate, users become overwhelmed and adoption suffers.
2) Consider the audience
Managers need to understand who will be using the enterprise data visualization and design dashboard to meet their needs.
“When we think about analytics best practices, we apply the DAR-method — Dashboard, Analysis, Reporting. It comes while working in Qlik to deliver value across all three aspects,” says Martin Gries. He is the director of supply chain management, H. & J. Brüggen KG. “Beyond choosing what data will go into the dashboard, you have to keep in mind the audience. Know how the visualizations will get that data across quickly and usefully.”
It all starts with dashboard design, Gries says, which should enable easy and helpful analysis for users. “If we execute the design well, that leads to strong analysis,” he says. “Reports are easier to create. It can deliver either a bird’s-eye perspective or drill into specific details as needed, depending on the user.”
When the company designs visualizations for management, we leverage elements like gauges, or single measurement KPIs on a common dashboard. It help them to quickly answer the question of whether we are on target or not. These can be used to compare performance over time and can be readily shared with decision makers across the business.
We should keep in mind that many users have limited data literacy knowledge. “For this reason, we wouldn’t use Boxplot charts, because they are too complex and not everybody can understand,” Gries says.
However, H. & J. Brüggen KG does apply visualizations such as tree maps to show elements such as service levels and order value for its product groups. That makes it much easier for users to understand things such as high order values to customers.
3) Provide training for the proper use of analytics tools
Many of the major analytics and business intelligence (A&BI) platforms today have sophisticated augmented analytics capabilities. This means users do not need to be particularly data- or technology-savvy to get visualizations from A&BI platforms.
You must feed these sophisticated augmented analytics tools good-quality data. Consequently, you must make sure your business users know enough about the data to critically consume what the tools generate.
Companies are conducting data literacy training and design thinking workshops alongside basic A&BI tool-focused training. This ensures users not only know how to navigate through their A&BI tools, but also to think more. It is ultimately about business relevance with enterprise data visualization, no matter how user-friendly the A&BI tools become.
4) Use the right tools
There might be a temptation to deploy all kinds of data visualization technologies. But companies need to consider what enterprise data visualization is needed for and select accordingly.
“It’s easy to get lost in the shiny new features and functionality of the A&BI tools,” says Mike Leone, senior analyst at research firm ESG. “But the top technology used to visualize data today is still Microsoft Excel.”
If a company needs to complete basic visualization tasks, then Excel is often good enough, Leone says. “It’s easy to use, accessible, and familiar to many.” But Excel is not the answer to integrate & connect heterogeneous data sets, enable collaboration, and machine learning.
“Finding a one-size-fits-all visualization platform that will meet everyone’s requirements is an impossible task,” Leone says. When looking at visualization tools, organizations need to consider the requirements and skill levels of various user groups.
5) Leverage visualizations to tell stories
As a company’s data visualization skills increase, it should strive to weave together visualizations into a coherent data storytelling pursuit.
This can mean developing single complex, interactive visualizations to tell a coherent story about a certain topic. Or it can mean building a dashboard or a series of visualizations that tell a coherent story about the business.
The most advanced users of A&BI tools have learned to craft cause-and-effect strings of visualizations. For instance, they can explain sales are down in a certain region and where opportunity may lie for rebounding. Let data tell a story of how your company can meet its key performance indicators.
6) Make collaboration a priority
Collaboration among stakeholders is pivotal for success with enterprise data visualization. You are not done once you have created a complex visualization that enables great insight. There are opportunities beyond that insight and go deeper or wider. But documentation and using the right platform that fosters collaboration is critical.
If a team has leveraged certain data sets or chosen certain visualizations over others, it needs to document everything. Data analytics and visualization is a team sport. It is incredibly valuable to enable peers to quickly ramp up their data visualization tasks.
Organizations are looking to give more people access to more data to explore and visualize. And collaboration will be critical in ensuring higher levels of productivity and a timely return on investment.
It is necessary to investigate the data before taking any business decision. Data visualizations have always helped to know your data better. Check out our data visualization services and see how you can leverage your data better. Request a FREE demo today.