Data Visualization 101: Understanding The Power Of Data And Dashboards

In a world where data continues to grow, working with this critical business asset has become even more important. In fact, IDC estimates that by 2025, nearly 20% of the data in the global datasphere will be critical to our daily lives and nearly 10% of that will be hypercritical. The power of data analytics and big data have allowed businesses to see patterns, how data is being used, and where they can make better decisions to impact the market.

 In that space, there are several tools that can be leveraged to make data work for you. One of those is data warehousing. We’ve discussed this in the past, but just to clarify - a data warehouse is a decision support system which stores historical data from across the organization, processes it, and makes it possible to use the data for critical business analysis, reports and dashboards.

Data warehousing systems store data from numerous sources, typically structured, Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) data such as invoices and financial transactions, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) data, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data. The data warehouse focuses on data relevant for business analysis, organizes and optimizes it to enable efficient data analytics.

Let’s pause here. Using big data engines coupled with data warehousing allows you to ingest vast amounts of data for processing and analytics. Now comes the interesting part - how do you actually visualize this data?

This is where powerful data visualization come into play. When you gather all of this data, a key stopping point is the lack of ‘visualizing’ the information in a productive manner. Data visualization allows you to see information as a picture, graph, or illustrated collection of data. The point is that it helps you interact with your data to see new concepts and patterns that were once difficult to grasp. From there, you can drill much deeper into your charts and graphs to really understand how data is changing and impacting your business

Let me give you some data visualization examples and use-cases:

  • Learn and understand data faster. You’re basically using images and graphics to represent critical pieces of business information. This allows you to make better decisions, faster. No one wants to look at spreadsheets all day. This is why data visualization can really help you understand your data better.
  • Isolate new and emerging trends. By drilling down into the information and creating data visuals which help you understand data more effectively, you can isolate patterns and even trends around your data! For example, spot outlier data, where customers are using services, and even find issues with your products before they become major bottlenecks.
  • Find patterns within data and information. This part is really cool! You can basically use data visualization to correlate information to find interesting relationships and patterns. This can help influence your business, the services or products you provide, and how you can better impact your customers. Remember, data warehousing coupled with data visualization techniques is a great way to create data patterns that you might never be able to see otherwise.

Pretty cool, right?

Now, to integrate this technology, it’s important to note some data visualization techniques. First of all, you’ll need to house all of this data. This is where data warehousing comes in. From there, you’ll need to work with a smart data warehouse that’s capable of integrating with a data visualization engine. The good news is that you can absolutely make data-driven decisions with confidence. Panoply provides a single source of data truth that's compatible with all major business intelligence as well as data visualization tools. This includes Tableau, Charito, Looker, Stitch, AWS, and several others. 

Another really important data visualization technique revolves around the groundwork to get started. This involves five pretty simply steps:

  1. Understand the data you're trying to visualize.
  2. Determine what you're actually trying to see and what's relevant to you.
  3. Who are you trying to impact with your initiative? Know your audience.
  4. Design data visualization that impacts you and your business best and gives you the right information.
  5. Leverage a good partner who can help guide you on your data visualization journey.

As the need for data utilization grows, organizations will be spending more time working with and understanding their data sets. Working with tools like data warehousing, coupled with data visualization, can give you the biggest benefits around data analytics, big data, and advanced data processing. Most of all, these tools will help you visualize your key data points and make you much more competitive in the market!

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