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by Daniel Humphries,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: August 26, 2015


Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Data Visualization Software?
Benefits
Key Considerations

What Is Data Visualization Software?

Data visualization software processes information from databases and presents it in graphical form. These visualizations range from simple charts and graphs to complex flow charts and geographical maps. Many of these visualizations are interactive, allowing users to adjust settings and see the impact in real-time.

Data Visualization Software from Tableau
Geographical data mapping using Tableau

Benefits

Data visualizations enable users to more readily analyze information, gain insights and discover trends. This makes users more efficient because they spend more time asking questions and getting answers, and less time interpreting numbers and creating graphics.

Here are a few ways that data visualization software can assist users in gaining insights from their data:

Geographical maps. Mapping data can help users discover geographical trends that may have gone unnoticed in traditionally analyzed data sets. Users can utilize these visualizations to pinpoint geographic strengths and weaknesses and find ways to address them.

Timelines. Plotting data in a time series is a common way for businesses to track success. With data visualization software, users can constantly adjust parameters to adjust both the metrics considered (e.g., revenue, profit or margins) as well as the relevant timeframe.

Workflow representations. These visualizations allow users to quickly understand the progress of a particular item within a project. By nesting individual workflows under multiple levels of a larger project, both frontline managers and executives can understand at a glance where particular activities stand.

Key Considerations

You should consider the following when evaluating data visualization applications:

Do you need a stand-alone data visualization tool or an integrated BI application? Is more advanced BI functionality—such as that included in predictive analytics and forecasting systems—a necessity? If so, you should consider a BI application with integrated visualization, reporting and analysis functionality.

Do you prefer on-premise or Web-based deployment? Most buyers will have the necessary IT capabilities to host an on-premise system, but it’s worthwhile to consider Web-based applications for their ease-of-deployment and monthly subscription fees.

Is mobile BI on your roadmap? Mobile BI is one of the biggest trends in business analytics, and most vendors currently offer at least some functionality on mobile devices. Visualization applications will often require the larger tablet screen to be effective. If you plan on using mobile devices to access visualization applications, ensure that the vendors you evaluate provide support for popular tablets (e.g., Apple iPad and Android-based tablets).

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