The volume of raw data companies collect and store continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Look through any Aussie mid-sized business, and you’ll likely find terabytes worth of information on customers, sales, accounting, web traffic, and more.
Yet, having a lot of data doesn’t mean anything if you can’t make sense of it all. Unless data can be conveyed in a meaningful way, gaining valuable insights on consumers, products, and services can be a challenge. This is where data visualisation comes in.
An introduction to data visualisation
Data visualisation is the practice of presenting information in a graphical format. This enables decision-makers to quickly identify and understand difficult concepts, trends, and outliers in their data.
Popular data visualisation tools include Tableau and Power BI. These tools process raw data from Excel, accounting databases, and other sources to give you several visualisation options. You can plot your data into graphs, charts, maps, and other visual elements that update automatically when you make changes to the original data set. They even let you create custom dashboards that compile all relevant data in one place.
How does it benefit Australian businesses?
Data visualisation is often superior to spreadsheets for a number of reasons. For one, the human brain is incapable of processing multiple figures at a time, let alone thousands distributed across a database. Visuals condense large data sets into easily digestible content, allowing you to quickly derive actionable insights. This means you spend less time poring over rows of data, and more time finding potential opportunities to drive your business forward.
Consider a sales department that uses data visualisation tools. By mapping sales figures and customer details on a chart, analysts can pinpoint which products and demographics they should focus on to increase revenue. Additionally, visualisation allows the sales team to identify underperforming products and figure out why. They can then use these insights to justify price adjustments, increase marketing efforts, or improve the quality of the product.
Visualisation provides a host of benefits to other departments, too. For example, accounting teams can visualise monthly expenses and revenues to find areas where the company is losing money, and accurately forecast business performance. Meanwhile, project managers can gauge productivity levels to fix operational bottlenecks.
Ultimately, incorporating data visualisation will enable you to make informed decisions and sharpen your competitive edge.
Data visualisation tips
Although the benefits of data visualisation are undeniable, organising data into a chart doesn’t automatically mean you’ll reveal actionable trends. In fact, it may have the opposite effect and produce inaccurate, overcomplicated analyses. That’s why it’s important to think about how you’ll present the data.
Here are some things to keep in mind when visualising data:
- Determine the purpose – Visualisations have many roles. Some are designed to show the financial health of the business, while others are intended to draw attention to problems or gain buy-in from managers. Make sure to cement your visualisation goals before going any further.
- Select appropriate visuals – The visuals you use will depend on the data and reports you’re working with. Generally, bar charts are great for comparisons, line charts are ideal for showing trends over time, and pie charts are best for comparing parts of a whole.
- Keep it simple – Adding too much information in one chart decreases the effectiveness of the message you’re trying to convey. As such, include only the necessary data to prove your point, add labels, and avoid extra graphics that distract from the data.
- Use colour sparingly – When you’re presenting multiple graphs, keep the colour scheme consistent. Only use unique colours for highlighting important information rather than for decoration.
- Put your visuals in a dashboard – If you want complete visibility into key performance indicators, compile visuals in a dashboard. Consider creating separate dashboards for accounting, sales, logistics, and other departments for even deeper analyses.
Presenting your data in a way that’s easy to understand can go a long way in growing your business. The returns you get in the form of meaningful insights, faster decision-making, and more efficient processes make data visualisation tools an investment you can’t afford to dismiss.
If you’re a mid-sized business that can’t make sense of large volumes of data, Empower IT is the solution. Our team consists of business analysts and data scientists who specialise in data visualisation and helping Australian businesses grow. For more information on our services, call us today.