Using data visualization techniques to present information visually highlights patterns and trends, enabling users to find meaning and delve further to uncover insights. Such techniques are growing in importance with more and more data being collected in every field of business, so much so that it is hard to tell what data is important and what isn’t.
If practiced well, however, data visualization techniques help businesses understand large amounts of complex data and empower them to find patterns or anomalies that can drive business and strategy decisions. Alternatively, if a business isn’t using data visualization techniques, they risk missing out on opportunities to identify areas of growth and areas of weakness where there is room for improvement.
Are you applying the power of data visualization effectively for your business — that is, are you finding the right insights from data available to enable smarter and informed strategic decision-making?
Consider the following areas and whether you are equipped to leverage data visualization in these ways.
- Are you using data visualization to improve sales effectiveness?
Achieving sales objectives requires strategy, as well as a consistent and well-monitored execution process. It is important to know which strategies are working, need to be modified or should be eliminated altogether.
While traditional sales automation systems and CRMs generate reports, they often don’t make the required impact because they fail to bring out patterns, trends, or interrelationships in the easy-to-understand way that data visualization techniques do.
Data visualization can also be used to monitor progress and motivate sales performance. A visual report illustrating successful closures by a salesperson becomes an effective motivator for the team and also helps the manager see which team members are having difficulty delivering results and at what stage.
So, how can you incorporate visual data into sales reporting? You will need a system that pulls data from different sources, such as CRM, sales reporting systems, etc. You may even want to include visual data within such organizational systems.
- Is data visualization enhancing your understanding of consumer behavior?
Knowing and understanding consumer behavior and market intelligence are two extremely important outcomes of data visualizations that can be leveraged to create sales and marketing strategies and differentiation.
Simply relying on numbers and reports to look at market data is not enough. Data visualization provides deeper insights and allows decision makers to find patterns in customer preferences and opinions, identifying differences based on the demographics of buyers. Whether you are looking at macro-level data, the results of market surveys, or responses to advertising or marketing offers, presenting the data visually goes a long way in supporting sound decision-making.
For instance, you can see buyer preferences based on geographic distribution, or which product ranges are best suited for which distribution channel, or compare online and offline shopping trends.
This deeper understanding of consumer behavior allows the business to forecast more accurately, improve customer satisfaction, and increase sales while optimizing resources.
- Are you presenting data visually to manage finances better?
The financial health of an organization depends on successfully managing a vast number of parameters. Some of these are managing accounts receivables, cash flows, capital utilization, and cost control. While finance managers may view and understand all of these well, operational managers can sometimes be unaware of what they need to do and why. Even when numbers are shared with them, they often do not fully understand their significance.
In order to present data visually to help everyone understand relevant financial parameters and how they impact their own functions, data often needs to be seen in conjunction with targets and compared to a previous date range. When the data is presented visually, such observations and comparisons become easy.
When financial data is understood by all stakeholders, operational management gets better aligned with financial discipline. All managers can not only see the rationale behind financial policies, but can contribute ideas for better financial performance.
- Are you presenting data visually to optimize production and supply chains?
In a manufacturing-driven organization, key production parameters that affect output and quality — such as outputs, rejections, and machine maintenance — need to be constantly monitored.
With the increasing adoption of IoT systems, production processes generate huge masses of data. Analyzing this data effectively and using it to arrive at data-driven decisions can make a huge impact on the efficiency of production. Given the volume, however, it can be a daunting task.
When production data is presented visually, stakeholders can understand, interpret and appreciate it easily, in spite of the complexity and volume of information. Decisions about production staffing, processes, equipment maintenance, raw materials, logistics, and supply chain are made with an understanding of past trends and possible future outcomes.
While we have discussed why data should be presented visually with examples from sales, consumer behavior, finance, and production management, there are many other areas — such as HR, logistics and infrastructure management — that would also benefit from visually presented data.
Have you looked at how data is currently being presented in your organization, and planned to leverage the power of visual data?