Data Visualization: Making Sense of Big Data

By Dennis McCafferty
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    Don't Lose the Data in the Visual

    Don't Lose the Data in the Visual

    Though this is a design-driven exercise, the value of the graphic is in the strength of the data.

As big data grows constantly bigger, IT organizations must come up with better ways to depict and make sense of it by using data visualization. We've come a long way from simple pie and bar charts, but the book The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions (Wiley, March 2014) cautions that technology professionals and designers can stray too far in attempting to "dazzle the eye." It's always important, says author Phil Simon, to understand the users' needs and preferences, along with the ultimate business-focused purpose of the data. With these factors strategically aligned, there's no limit to the potential of data visualization. "An increasing number of organizations have realized that the variety, volume and velocity of information require not only new applications, but a new mindset," Simon says. "The most intelligent companies today understand the importance of data discovery and exploration—not merely conventional enterprise reporting. Interactive heat maps, tree maps and choropleths [thematic maps] promote true data discovery more than static graphs and pie charts." The following 10 best practices for IT pros are from the book. Simon is a tech strategy consultant, speaker and author of six IT management books.

This article was originally published on 2014-04-01
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.
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