Transforming raw data into actionable insights using data visualization

Data visualization is a key functionality in analytics, transforming raw data into actionable insights and enabling businesses to easily spot trends, patterns, and anomalies. By presenting these insights through reports and charts, data visualization can facilitate a deeper understanding of even complex data sets and enable quality decision-making within organizations.

In this blog, we delve into how data can drive action by sharing best practices for creating compelling data visualizations using modern BI capabilities.

Form and function

To craft impactful data visualizations, it's important to strike a balance between form and function. Here are four best practices that will help you find this balance:

  1. Know your audience

  2. Handle diverse data formats

  3. Incorporate interactivity

  4. Adhere to business guidelines

Know your audience

For data visualizations to be highly effective, it's important that they resonate emotionally and intellectually with the target audience. Hence, understanding your audience is crucial. It also helps in determining accessibility preferences for your audience, like text size, color, language preferences, and more.

The business roles of users, and their role-specfic needs and challenges, determine the veracity and depth of insights relevant to them. Modern BI platforms enable this through collaborative analytics that deliver up-to-date user-specific insights.

BI platforms also provide accessibility options, such as high contrast colors and patterns, to cater to the specific needs of the audience. Check out the screenshot below for an example of this feature in action. 

Handle diverse data formats

Businesses today gather data from diverse sources. Thankfully, BI platforms are equipped to handle a multitude of data formats, empowering businesses to extract insights from these diverse sources. With support for textual, spatial, and temporal data, among others, these platforms offer a broad spectrum of chart types and visualization options, to leverage data in all formats and highlight the different facets of insights.

In the screenshot below, we've explored a sankey chart. This visualization effectively represents data flows, aiding in identifying bottlenecks and optimizing workflows. The following example shows the sequence of the most common actions performed during the website visits of a given business.

Watch our complete webinar on data visualization to learn more about various other chart types and how they support different data formats.

Incorporate interactivity

Interactive capabilities in data visualization allow users to uncover further insights in real time, facilitating ad hoc analysis. Features like drill-down, filtering, and sorting enhance user experience and save time in creating new reports. Interactive visualizations also engage users and enable them to explore data on their own terms, leading to a deeper understanding of the insights presented.

In the following demo video, we perform ad-hoc analysis and uncover deeper insights on a monthly sales trend report, using the interactive capabilities discussed.

Adhere to business guidelines

All businesses follow guidelines for both the aesthetic and functional aspects of data visualizations—this includes adhering to branding guidelines for visual consistency and implementing data governance policies to regulate data usage. BI platforms offer customizable font and color formatting for branding consistency, as well as detailed access controls for data governance.

Watch the demo video below to explore customization options in modern BI platforms.

AI in data visualization

The rise of AI in analytics is fundamentally reshaping how businesses approach data visualization. Report creation, for example, is now possible using prompts in natural language, democratizing the functionality for all BI users. The platform also intelligently identifies the best-suited chart type to present a particular insight in.

In the demo video below, we explore Ask Zia, Zoho Analytics' intelligent assistant, using which you can generate reports and interact with your data using natural language.

Harness the power of data visualization

Effective data visualization is essential for businesses to derive actionable insights from raw data. By incorporating the best practices discussed in this blog and leveraging key AI capabilities, organizations can enhance their data analysis processes and make informed decisions based on visualized data. The future of data visualization is headed towards advanced AI integration, interactive features, and dynamic visualizations, enabling organizations to extract valuable insights and drive business growth.

Watch our complete webinar on data visualization to explore these topics in more detail.

You can also sign up for Zoho Analytics today—or enjoy a free personalized demo from one of our experts!


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