Data on its own can be bewildering, apparently meaningless and even nonsensical in all its raw forms. This in part is why we have seen the rise of the data visualization company and the ‘business dashboard’ tool. Usually found within the so-called world of Business Intelligence (BI), we can now think of these graphical tools as a means of ingesting, categorizing, analyzing and then presenting data to us in the form of interactive images.
What images does a BI dashboard use?
What kind of images? Typically we would expect to see the use of ‘standard’ tables alongside, heat maps, pie charts and schematics. Then there are scatter plots, gantts and bubble charts plus also geographical maps. It’s a real smorgasbord of visualization tools.
Why do we use these tools? The justification (and central technology proposition here) typically hinges around the fact that we can now use computing power to crunch through our numbers (some of them in databases, some of them coming from really raw and unfiltered areas that we often refer to as the data lake) and then display ‘trends’ that the human brain would spend an eternity looking for.
Crucially, we humans can often define and spot a trend using a visual representation faster than we can if we simply looked at lists or tables of numbers. We like pictures, basically.
Adding extra intelligence
Data visualization specialist Tableau Software is attempting to add intelligence to existing intelligence in this space by putting new brain power in the Tableau 10.3 product release. Now in official beta, version 10.3 will be released in full soon in 2017.