Data visualization, also known as “data viz,” has become an integral part of how businesses operate, communicate with employees, and make decisions. It’s a communications tool that allows for complex ideas and relationships to be presented and understood in a simple format. Charts, graphs, pictures, and maps are all examples of data visualization that most of us are familiar with.
While data visualization can help distill complex data, it can also oversimplify information which can create challenges in decision-making. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of data visualization so you can be sure your business fully understands how to use it effectively.
The Pros of Data Visualization
There are many benefits that data visualization can bring to a business, including:
Data viz makes information easier to comprehend by expressing it visually and demonstrating relationships between data points. The use of colors, labels, and other images makes it easier for the human brain to process and remember information, leading to a deeper understanding of the story being told. Additionally, adding graphic elements that are specific to your business can make data more relevant and motivate employees to do their job better.
Through data viz, you can quickly and easily gain the attention of your audience and help them remember what they’re seeing. While data analysts are good at reading and understanding numbers, there are many people who don’t feel comfortable with numerical analysis and interpretation and you could overwhelm them with data sets and charts. Data visualization allows you to reach a wider audience – whether it’s your employees or customers – and take them on a journey with your data. And, with eye-catching imagery, your audience is much likelier to remember what you shared with them.
How you communicate a message impacts the way a reader interprets information. While throwing numbers and statistics at a person can demonstrate your business’s savvy and expertise, it can also overwhelm them and leave them confused. But data visualization shows your audience that not only is your business a subject matter expert, but that you also understand your audience’s needs and know how to present meaningful data to convey your message.
The Cons of Data Visualization
All tools come with shortcomings, and data viz is no exception. Here are a few examples of where it could fall short:
Making correlations in your data can be critical to decision-making and strategy setting, but they can also make people see false relationships. Depending on the integrity of your data, along with the person interpreting the data, visualizations can inaccurately show how different variables behave in relationship to one another. This can result in false relationships among data being identified, leading to inaccurate assumptions and conclusions.
Axes Make the Difference
The size and number of axes in a data visualization such as a graph or chart can easily change how data is interpreted. At first glance, the size of an axis can cause viewers to assume a more extreme change or value than there is. Additionally, dual axes can trick a reader into believing two variables are calculated on the same base unit, even if they’re not.
Average Is Not the Best Statistic
The average of a list of data is not the best statistic since outliers can skew the data in one direction or another. Most data sets that are unrelated to time follow a normal distribution, but many data sets deviate from the standard bell curve to a minimal degree at the very least. Therefore, it’s crucial to always look for the mean and median in data viz. If you see a big difference, that means the visualization may not be representative.
Just like any approach or tool in business, data viz has pros and cons that are important to understand so you can get the best out of it while mitigating any challenges. But, it can be overwhelming to take this on without a partner that has industry expertise and the knowledge to effectively use data visualization.
If you think your business could benefit from using data visualization, reach out to Gemini Data. We offer advanced analytics solutions for accurate data visualization to tell powerful stories.