Technology

We Humans Are Wired For Data Visualization?

There is a surge in the demand for business intelligence tools enabling enhanced data visualization. However, do you know why data visualization is so useful? In this blog, you will discover the importance of data visualization for businesses and consumers in the most engrossing manner.

Before we delve into the details, let’s understand the simple philosophy of human brain-

As per biology, our brain is very well responsive to visuals. Our eyes form the chief source of data for our brain as huge data is received to the brain through our eyes via the optic nerve (The speed at which data travels through the optic nerve to the brain is around 9Mb/sec!)

The brain after processing the received data, converts it into actionable information. It is this functionality that enables us to discern a visually represented data very well than mere numbers and data scattered in a spreadsheet.

The 3 modes of data visualization which enables effective decision making are-

Edge detection →  Shape recognition →  Pattern matching

It is this 3-step pattern of data visualization which makes analyzing complex data easier. This enables effective decision making which otherwise would be impossible.

Now let’s understand the importance of data visualization in businesses.

The significance of data visualization in businesses-

Don’t you agree that a visual conveys meaningful information faster than tables? Observe the below illustration:

Try spotting the month with highest sales from the table below-

Visualizations

Now, with the help of the following graph, you will be able to spot the highest sales month within a second-

Visualizations

You see? That’s the magic of data visualization using business intelligence tools like digital graphs.

Excerpts from the pioneer’s desk…

http://goo.gl/i9LWTv

As per Edward Rolf Tufte, pioneer of data visualization, ‘Graphical excellence enables the viewer to come up with numerous ideas within the shortest time using minimum ink and space.’ This trait of data visualization makes it vital for businesses and consumers alike.

Now let’s understand the two objectives of data visualization that solve specific problems. Learn how data visualization makes understanding complex data easy.

The 2 objectives of Data Visualization-

Today’s business environment requires data visualization to achieve two broad objectives-

  • Explanatory
  • Exploratory

How explanatory data visualization solves specific problems?

Visuals which direct viewers along defined paths are explanatory in nature. For example, business intelligence dashboards used for day-to-day business operations.

Illustration:

Visualizations

Here, the observer begins with a query in mind like ‘which country commands highest revenue?’

After visualizing the above, she finds her answer easily which is beautifully summed up as below:

Visualizations

Explanatory data visualization is useful for various tasks like-

  • Getting specific answers; How much sales achieved previous quarter?
  • Taking effective decisions; We require to stock more blue chinos as they were sold the most last week.
  • Communicate useful information instantly; The revenue trail is as desired for this quarter.
  • Enhance efficiency; ‘Specifications’ page is the most viewed section of our product page on our website. Hence, it deserves improved visibility.

How exploratory data visualization enables better understanding of complex data?

Exploratory visuals puts the observer through various dimensions associated with a data set to arrive at appropriate solutions.

Illustration:

Below is a visualization of Union addresses of recent American presidents-

Visualizations

Here, you will begin by familiarizing yourself with the visualization. Then you will identify an ‘area of interest’.

For instance, which President addressed more on jobs? You will then go to the ‘Jobs’ section and easily get your answer. Similarly you can explore other dimensions. The entire process is again beautifully summed up as below-

Visualizations

Exploratory data visualization can enable you to dig out valuable insights from large and complex data sets at a glance. This ability facilitates effective decision making, crucial for the progress of any business.

Now that we know that data visualization is intrinsic to businesses, let us understand the mechanics of how our brain processes visual information to take a decision.

The teamwork mechanics of our vision and memory:

Data wizards must be familiar with the term ‘massively parallel processing’ (MPP). It is a common feature of MapReduce technology that supports Hadoop. It breaks and processes data into small units.

Similarly, when we observe a visual, our eyes and brain function simultaneously to grasp the new information breaking it into small units. The brain and eyes then process the information to reach a meaningful conclusion.

Illustration:

Visualizations           ⇒ ⇒            Visualizations            ⇒⇒        image10

Consider we enter a mall to buy oranges. Our eyes initially scan the various sections of the mall. The brain simultaneously instructs the eyes to focus on the fruits section by sending signals about the appearance of fruits stored in our memory. After spotting the fruits section, same process is repeated till zeroing in on the oranges.

So there it is.

We’re wired for data visualization.

I hope this reveals the importance of data visualization in every aspect of life. My next will be a discourse on whether the iOS will be able to survive the market dominance of Android.

Do you have something to say? Let us know in the comments section below.

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