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#547: Use Data Visualization to Get Your Point Across

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Most consultants are familiar with Ed Tufte's work in data visualization but are there any tools for dynamic visualization to show evolving time series?

Well-designed data visualization techniques can vastly increase understanding of specific data sets, as Tufte so amply demonstrates in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. But in the hard work to design that perfect display that a deeper understanding can be created not just for the recipient of the display but also for the creator. We sometimes rush to display data without taking the time to really understand its nuances.

Take, for example, Gapminder World, the project of Swedish statistician Hans Rosling, who is committed to help people understand world (especially health) data through visualization. Gapminder shows how a cross plot of world data on economy, education, infrastructure, etc. have changed over time (e.g., child mortality vs. GDP per person). This kind of dynamic display provides insight that a data table never could.

Some other dynamic visualization tools are The Visual Thesaurus, Wordle (create tag clouds from text), and Flare (for advanced users). There are lots of applications.

Tip: Imagine how this kind of dynamic or interactive display could dramatically change your ability to get your findings and recommendations across to a client. Also, by working with visual displays instead of just data tables, you will develop insights you might never otherwise recognize.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  data visualization  learning  recommendations 

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