When was the last time you gave a presentation? In high school when you had to give a talk on the population-education-employment ratios of the various countries in the world and identify trends in it? Or yesterday afternoon in the boardroom when your bosses were sitting around a round table and you had to talk about the various expenditures in your department and then identify where you could cut down? Wherever it was, how did you present the data in your presentation? In plain vanilla tables with bold headers and lots of numbers right under it?
If even two of my grey cells are functioning right, my guess would be – no. You would have made extensive use of charts, gauges and maps, what are collectively called as data visualization components, to give a face to your numbers. New data visualization methods keep evolving at a very rapid pace to serve various needs but their essence is the same – to help understand complex data with ease. They help in identifying & differentiating specific areas of interest, in summarizing data & focusing on related parameters for overall analysis.
Apart from high-school and boardroom presentations, data visualization is used in a multitude of other places too. Where exactly – do you ask? Let us take a look at some of its major applications:
1. Reporting Applications – Reporting Applications are everywhere. They report anything from system performance to quarterly sales. Data visualization is as important to reporting solutions as the back-end server would be. Right from plotting System Throughput in a System Performance Report to the Sales v Revenue figures in a Sales Report, charts and graphs help condense heaps of data into easy digestible information.
2. Network Monitoring Applications – Whenever we are talking networks, we are talking about a massive number of log files, typically in the high thousands. Managing that high a number of log files is well….tough. But using data visualization, a network guy can get the overall picture at once & know what’s right and what’s not. Network monitoring applications help in discovering, communicating & strategizing logs and make extensive use of data visualization for it. Imagine when your Network Administrator sends nothing but a bunch of log files to the management – they will be left clueless until they see it in the form of charts.
3. Executive Dashboards & Business Monitoring – The bigger an organization grows, the more they need to monitor it. This is done by seeing a snapshot of the performance of the organization, and the various departments therein which is what a dashboard is all about. This helps in identifying the negative trends and weeding them out and also identifying where growth has been achieved. Creating BI dashboards like calculating Return on Investment (ROI) or displaying various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is pretty much indispensable to most of the medium and large-sized organizations. futureon
4. Surveys & Polls – “2-way communication” is the buzzword of the web. And surveys and polls are at the heart of it. Data visualization is used extensively for presenting statistics of market research & analysis of survey data, as it helps in getting an insight into the same quickly and coming out with solid conclusions.