Some people just hate spreadsheets. Pages of complex figures that need to be analysed? I don't always have the attention span for that, I'd rather binge on reality TV (Keeping up with the Kardashians anyone?). But, I love numbers. I am what Gretchen Ruben would describe as a questioner, so seek out and make decisions based on as much evidence as I can gather. So, what's the key to me digesting numerical information? Data visualisation.
Numbers for 'aesthetists'
Like the Kardashians, I get caught up in looks. Not in the way of lip fillers, but in using imagery and visualisation to learn. Like many people out there, I am a visual learner. The Fleming VAK model describes three types of learning: aural, kinesthetic and yep, visual. Based on this, around a third of your team, partners, clients or other stakeholders will respond best to a visual interpretation of information, which will help you reach more people with your message, more clearly. So other than the great power to educate, what are the other advantages?
Communicate numbers, fast
Whether in a simple infographic or set of charts, or a full Business Intelligence dashboard, data visualisation helps people digest huge amounts of complex data, quickly. You only have a few moments to grab the attention of a potential partner, investor or customer: always assume the person you're speaking to has a short attention span (to overcome crocodile brain - I recommend Pitch Anything to understand exactly what this is, and how to, well (successfully) Pitch Anything). Don't risk having them switch off well before you get around to selling your 'secret sauce'. It's hard to argue with hard evidence. Get them the information they need faster with visualised data.
Demonstrate or uncover relationships between numbers
Visual patterns are much easier for most people to spot than patterns in data in a spreadsheet. You don't need to understand the numbers themselves to see profits moving up and down over time on a graph for example or the relationship between common comorbidities like heart disease and diabetes in a Venn diagram. Visualising data can start to tell the story of the information, and help you piece together trends, causes and effects. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, a visual representation of data is worth a thousand spreadsheets.
Identify opportunities, faster
Without having to wade through pages of figures, viewers of the data can get to the crux of the information quicker. This allows for greater agility within businesses, as they can quickly identify and act on issues and opportunities. Easily digestible data (even better if it's real-time data via a Business Intelligence dashboard) enables more responsive decision making. In fact, in many cases, it drives action, especially where the data is transparent and accessible to whole teams. If everyone on board has evidence the ship is taking on water, each is going to do what they can, in their own way, to build a bilge system, or grab a bucket, or set up the liferafts, to help the whole team keep sailing.
So why are you waiting?
Whether you're trying to win new business, communicate an idea, or build a team culture, nothing works quickly like turning numbers into beautiful images. Data visualisation is a cornerstone of effective Business Intelligence, the benefits of which are manifold. Interested to know more about BI? We've got more articles on the topic you might be interested in.