What is Data Visualization and Why it is Important?

Data Visualization is a term that describes the graphical representation of data to visually communicate the meaning behind the numbers, by exposing trends, patterns, and correlations. Data visualization can include everything from a simple pie chart or map to more complicated diagrams or highly customized infographics.

But why is data visualization important? Simply because the human brain processes information better when it is presented visually. Using pictures to convey large complex data is far easier than trying to understand static reports or spreadsheets. Consider this: according to Forrester, 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Basically, the brain is an image processor. By presenting data in a graphical manner, it allows individuals an immediate understanding of what the data is saying. In addition to being understood more quickly, visual data is retained and understood longer, leading to better learning and greater understanding. 

Another reason data visualization is so useful is it helps make complicated concepts easy to understand. Typically, the simplest way is by contextualizing the data with other information, revealing patterns and relationships that begin to weave a story about the information being presented. Have you ever tried to find a pattern in a spreadsheet? It’s not easy. If the data visualization is constructed correctly it allows advanced understanding at a glance. Time is valuable, and visualizations help the human brain understand and retain concepts more quickly, conveying information that lets people and organizations make smarter decisions.

What does it take to create useful data visualizations?

1.    Understanding the Problem
A foundation of good data visualization is having a good understanding of the problem that is being explored. It’s difficult to accurately create visualizations without a thorough understanding of the domain or business processes where the data originated. The experts at DVI have hundreds of years of expertise in the travel industry, which allows them the ability to clearly define the problem before the first visualization is created. 

2.    Good Data
Good visualizations start with good data. When looking at data visualizations, it’s easy to be awed by bright color and artistic design. However, in order to convey insights that lead to action you must have meaningful and accurate data. Without those, your visualizations can lead to poor decision making and consequently poor and ineffective actions. DVI is obsessed with data quality. Using machine learning techniques coupled with advanced artificial intelligence, DVI has developed processes and procedures that manage the 5 Vs of big data:

Volume: The large amount of travel date generated during travelers journey
Variety: The different sources of data required to build a complete picture of a trip
Velocity: The shear speed which data is generated daily
Veracity: The trustworthiness of the data
Value: By successfully managing the prior 4 Vs of big data, DVI generates data that is valuable.

Good data is used to create valuable visualizations that allow organizations to gain the advantages they knew were available, and some they never realized, hidden in a sea of data. 

3.    Usability
Once data is clean and trustworthy, it’s time to create visualizations that help explore that data. This is not as simple as using all that clean data to create a line chart or a 3D pie chart. Not only must your data be accurate and complete, but you need to choose a visualization that matches the purpose of your data. The best place to start is to decide which types of analysis you want to see with the data; comparisons, distributions, compositions or relationships. Each category has a subset of visualizations based on the objective of the message and in some cases the number of variables to be displayed. The goal is to ensure the viewer can understand, at a glance, the basic premise of the visualization. 

4.    Stories
If you can easily understand the data, the next step is to tell a story about what’s happening. Stories are powerful learning tools. When the brain hears numbers and facts, it uses only a small part of its capability to process that information. However, when the brain hears a story the entire brain is engaged. According to Jennifer Aker, an American social psychologist, stories are important because they are meaningful; they are memorable, impactful and personal. When data is combined with a story, people are moved intellectually and emotionally. DVI VantagePoint allows users to tell stories that are accurate and impactful. These stories, just like a business trip, are a journey with a beginning, middle and end that moves the audience from questions to analysis to action. 

5.    Partnership
Working with a data visualization partner like DVI who you trust and who offers a consultative, solutions-based approach to understanding, cleansing and visualizing your data is critical. The DVI VantagePoint SasS tool can help organizations not only understand what is happening with their travel spend but create visualizations that paint complete pictures of enormous amounts of data, telling a company what happened, why it happened, what will happen next and how to shape the future.

Interested in how DVI can can help you with data analytics for your travel program? Connect with us on LinkedIn or follow us @DVIbigdata.