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Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, December 30, 2008
No, this is not a typo. We are all familiar with the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). However, there is another acronym WYGIWYS (What You Get Is What You See) and it refers to data visualization, an important concept for consultants, both for their own use and for clients.

Data visualization is the graphical display of data and information to communicate its meaning more clearly and effectively. In its simplest form, this would be a line graph, pie chart, histogram or other basic representation of scale, order and sequence. But, with the advent of computers, the past decade has seen many new ways of presenting data that provide insights we were previously unable to achieve.

The importance of this concept to consultants becomes obvious when we try to make sense of increasingly complex information and present it in an understandable and compelling way to clients. There are some by now familiar ways to present multiple types of information in a single graphic. Think of a tag cloud, where the frequency of the occurrence of words or data elements are reflected by their size and relationships by their location and proximity to other words. Or consider Visuwords, which presents itself as an "online graphical dictionary." Enter a word and, based on its meaning and relationships with other words, it is displayed in a relationship diagram. Try it out.

Tip: Here are two data visualization sources. The first is a set of 16 visualization tools that you may use yourself. The second is some elegant examples of ways to visualize data more powerfully than in a simple table or chart. Remember, What You Get (meaning understand) Is What You See meaning visualize).

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  data visualization  information management 

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