What is Data Visualisation?

In a world where the word ‘data’ is thrown around constantly, it becomes difficult to give the term a single, simple meaning. This becomes worse still when additional terms are placed next to it, such as data package, data visualisation, and data representation. As such, we have taken it upon ourselves to give you an analogy of sorts – something to put a handle for you to grasp for your understanding.

Data, in its simplest form, is information. And like information, if wielded correctly, can change the direction of your business.

To break it down further, let us look at data as if it is soil.

Each piece of soil being a single piece of information, a single piece of data – on its own, almost entirely useless. However, group a few handfuls together and you’ll have enough to pot a plant. Pack even more and you’ll have enough for a flower bed. Keep going and you will have enough for a garden or even a park…

See where we are going with this?

Having soil, without using it for any particular purpose, can be a waste of such a fine resource. You’ll have this huge pile in your backyard, taking up space that you would assume was just dirt when it could possibly be used for so much more. For instance, you could use it to create a lovely garden, sell it by the metre to builders, mine it for precious gems – the list is endless. And remember that we are just talking about soil. Data is by far, much more versatile.

To continue the soil path, and to take your knowledge further, let us throw in one of those additional terms – visualisation.

To ‘visualise’ is to ‘see’. And data visualisation is exactly that, to see your data.

That backyard pile may not have any gems, it is possible that builders have no need for your specific lump of soil, and it may also not be nutrient enough to grow that garden. Of course, there are other uses, and being able to ‘see’ what those uses are, defines visualisation in a nutshell.

Let’s leave the soil behind for a minute and delve into a bit of technicality.

It is safe to say that the world is aligned in its dislike of spreadsheets. However useful, hundreds of lines of text and numerals in (almost orderly) rows and columns can take a while to decipher. Throwing a pie chart or bar graph into the mix can reduce hours of painstaking analysis and can clearly outline the overall equivalent of that data.

That, in its basic sense, is the simplest technical form of data visualisation.

You see, we, as humans, love colour, shapes, and their combination. We can easier read a colour-coded bar graph than all those lines of boring text. Don’t list your daily commute times and moods in a long column of numbers when you could pop in a line graph and immediately note that when your driving time exceeds 47 minutes, you are more prone to road rage.

The chart ribbon of Microsoft Excel is great at many things, but unfortunately falls short in analysing and representing your overall data.

When it comes to data, on average, every person produces approximately 1.7MB per second – which pretty much means that we all have piles of soil in our backyards. And like that pile of soil mentioned above, it could be an additional asset, or even a potential windfall to you and your business, if you know what to look for.

Unfortunately, thousands of businesses process and crunch data daily without understanding exactly what it is they have. With the powerful conglomerates of the world paying heavy prices for data, it is time you know what you have. And should a data centre offer you millions of pounds for it, you can decline (or counteroffer) knowing that your data is worth much more.

If you want to find out how to turn your pile of soil into a beautiful garden then get in touch and let us put our green fingers to good use and make your data bloom.