September 21, 2017

The Business Value of Data Visualization

Post by: Data Team

Data is abundant everywhere in our lives whether we’re at work, school, or at home. However, data “in the wild” is often raw and insights can be lost without visualization. When faced with many different data points, it can be difficult for our minds to effectively process and intuitively understand everything we’re seeing.

Let’s look at a set of sales data for example. Sales data typically consists of many individual transactions. When faced with a historical sales file, it’s nearly impossible to gain insight on the raw data alone. Below is an excerpt from a 4,000+ line item sales file. It’s clear to see what sales occurred on a given day, but we can’t glean a great deal of additional insight:

Weaknesses of Excel PivotTable for Data Aggregation

When looking to gain insights, many business users already understand the power of aggregating data to a higher level. Although there are many tools that can help with this, Excel’s PivotTable functionality is still one of the most common. It is typically already installed for most users, and many are already familiar with Excel.

Leveraging Excel’s PivotTable capabilities, we can now start to summarize the data by Salesperson and by Month. This already allows us to better understand the sales data. However, even with aggregated data points, it’s difficult to quickly see our trends, leaders, and laggards. We still find ourselves needing to read each number to attempt to make comparisons, so it is not obvious which month or salesperson had top sales despite the reduced set of information:

Advantages of Power BI Data Dashboards for Visualization

Let’s now explore this data using Power BI visualizations to see how things change:

power bi data dashboard visualization

At a glance, it’s a lot easier to understand, isn’t it?

We humans have an uncanny ability to assess relative size of objects (such as in a bar chart) or patterns, (such as trends of a line chart). Now, just by glancing at the visualized data, we can see that Tsvi Reiter is our leading salesperson, October was our best sales month, and that most of our top-selling products are mountain bikes. Additional analysis may find the correlation between the average lines per order and our overall sales.

Data visualization makes the data more consumable and speeds up our time to insights.

Data Visualization Adds Value and Efficiency

There’s no question about the value and efficiency that visualizations can bring to any organization. Decision-makers need to quickly and intuitively understand their data so they can make data-driven decisions. Using the right tool like Power BI can help you get there.

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