In a previous post we talked about the 3 keys to ideal data visualization: easy for everyone to understand, simple to spot problems or trends and fits any data size.

You might say “but VisualCrew, don’t current data visualization methods fit that bill? Why change?” Good question, and you’re partially right. Spreadsheets, pie charts and line graphs certainly tell a part of the story: usually the high-level, strategic part. If you want to see how a department, agent, student, truck or any other person, process or asset is doing over the course of quarters or years then sure, current data visualization might get the job done.

But what if you want to see the details? The specifics? How are entities performing minute to minute? That’s the kind of data that we find interesting because it’s the kind of thing you can change right now- you can actually interact with it. Traditional data visualization doesn’t do so well with that kind of operational data. Quite simply, the spreadsheet and pie chart just aren’t cutting it anymore.

And it seems we’re not the only ones who think so. Many of the best and brightest in data visualization tend to agree.

The June 2014 issue of Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) states “until recently, a good spreadsheet or perhaps a pie chart might have been sufficient to get a firm grasp on a dataset. However, making sense of big data requires more, and with our increasing inundation with data comes new and creative opportunities to build unique interfaces.”

That’s precisely the kind of business we’re in. Practically every industry on the planet has more access to data than ever before. It’s volume (how much of it), velocity (how fast it comes) and variety (where it’s coming from and in what format) are absolutely staggering. To stay competitive businesses need to use that data and use it now. The question is: how are you going to do it?

VisualCue Tile
The VisualCue Tile can collect data points and roll up reports into a single image

May we suggest the Tile: an easy to understand representation of data thatcontains all the information you need to see the whole story behind every entity in your organization on a single screen called a Mosaic. Why a single screen? Why pictures? Because it’s easier that way- you can consume more information faster when you don’t have to read it. 60,000 times faster, in fact. Co-founder of The Office for Creative Research Jer Thorpe has said “being able to see a single graphic that represents a complicated thing makes peoples’ cognitive load a little easier.”

Thorpe goes on to say “The data visualization is in some ways a data narrative… it explains, but it also relates. It intrigues. It compels. It allows us to unpack that dataset in a way which I feel is a lot more human than it might have been if it were just, say, a chart or spreadsheet.” Tiles and Mosaics use pictures and colors to allow anyone to look at a complex data set and intuitively  understand  what’s going on. We designed VisualCue to augment natural human visual acuity for the purpose of fast, clear insights. The result is a visualization method that feels more human than wasting hours trying to piece spreadsheets together.

VisualCue’s entire attitude towards older data visualization methods can be summed up by Justin Langseth, CEO of Zoomdata, when he says “The business world is pretty adept at creating pie charts and bar charts… but it thirsts for more interesting, more intuitive interactive visualizations of data. That’s the space we’re in: coming up with novel, dynamic ways of looking at the data, as opposed to staring at tables and columns.”

We are proud to join Justin and other data visualization pioneers in coming up with “more intuitive interactive visualizations of data.” This is the idea that has caught our imaginations and fires us up each day at VisualCue. And it’s an idea you need to consider, because in the very near future only those who embrace and use data will still be around to enjoy its benefits.

To learn more about data visualization, check out  Communications of the ACM.

Here’s a link to the specific article we used so you can read it all for yourself!

Till next time,

The VisualCrew