Advanced data visualization guide: How visualizing data can boost BI

Last updated:April 2014

Editor's note

A new generation of data visualization tools has arrived on the scene, claiming to allow end users to access business intelligence (BI) and analytics data in eye-catching and easy-to-understand formats. Advanced data visualization software also offers new ways to view data, through visuals such as bubble charts, word clouds and geospatial heat maps. Used correctly, visualization technology can deliver business insights to users faster than they can get it with traditional BI tools, and visualizing data can also simplify the process of analyzing big data sets.

But advanced visualization tools are often complex to deploy and use, requiring support from outside consultants or the services of internal data scientists. Many smaller businesses, and even some larger ones, may not have the resources to invest in the needed skills. Companies also must decide how to divide usage of the tools between IT staffers and business users. Placing most of the responsibility in the hands of IT might be the best approach in some organizations, while others might be better suited to an agile approach that empowers business users to create visualizations and develop reports on their own. Either way, the flashy elements of data visualization tools may draw attention away from the primary purpose behind them: supporting efforts to meet business goals.

This guide examines news, trends and best practices associated with advanced data visualization. Get advice from experienced users and industry consultants on how to sort through the available options, as well as how to implement and manage data visualization technology to help your organization achieve its BI objectives.

1Tips for managing an effective data visualization program

Data visualization can be a key element in successful BI management, particularly when BI teams follow established best practices for visualizing data. In this section, consultants and experienced users discuss the potential advantages of data visualization and provide guidance on how to gain business benefits while avoiding the temptation to get caught up in creating flashy graphics that get in the way of effective data analysis.