Data Visualization in Business
These days, information is considered to be the key to success. That’s what you’re being told from every source you’ve ever searched to find business advice. Unfortunately, it’s not the praise of knowledge that it used to be years ago. Ever heard the old Latin adage scientia potentia est? It means “knowledge is power”and has been used for about 348 years in praise of data gathering.
The thing is… there’s so much data around us that it’s difficult to say which bits are worth anything. Therefore, I’d say that the information itself isn’t the key to success, but rather, your ability to select important data is. Not to mention that it’s not enough to simply open or scan the right file, book or document for information. Words, numbers and stats alone can only give you what you can interpret from seeing or hearing them.
Fortunately, there is a trick you can use to help yourself understand the data you have. It’s called data visualization; and, since we’re talking business and time is money — let’s get on with it.
Points of view
It matters who’s looking. Who is your audience, your reader? Two different people looking at the same picture won’t see it identically. What’s more important: different levels of the corporate ladder often shouldn’t be looking at the same picture. The file that goes to the manager is not necessarily meant for his subordinates to see. The way data is presented varies depending on who is supposed to see and comprehend it.
For example, when using the CrazyCall app, an agent is only able to compare his own successes with other agents’ or see total goals the teams have already made.
It’s up to the manager to decide whether to show agents more via the app’s wallboards.
However, the data presented on wallboards is going to be a little bit skimpy.
On the other side of the table is a manager, who has an access to much more information. The CrazyCall Dashboard allows him to analyze his team against other teams on a higher and deeper level. For instance, a manager can see such data as hit rates, effectiveness, how many agents are currently talking or those who are currently on a pause.
Of course, you can imagine that there’s a huge difference between the way data should be presented to a director and to a manager. Directors should receive data that is already analyzed and aggregated, which he can use as the basis for making decisions about the company’s future. Usually, at the corporate level, a decision maker is not necessarily interested in seeing specific data about each of the agents employed in his company. On the other hand, his manager needs to have as much information about his team members as he can to make the best decisions considering their day-to-day work.
How to present data
Okay, so you know who at the company should see what. Next question is: how to present that. Writing everything down on a white sheet of paper isn’t really the best way any longer, is it?
It is common knowledge that it is not only the content of the information that matters, but how you present the information can have a huge impact on how it’s understood. Poetic language, curvy font and colorful flowers around the edges won’t work, no matter your personal esthetics. Presentation of business information has to be clear, obvious and perfectly visible to its target audience. Otherwise, the whole purpose of making any table, graph or report is lost. Data has to be easy to find and interpret.
Let’s focus on the three most common ways to present your data.
Tables should consist of precise, elaborate data. They are usually used to organize data from its, more or less. raw form. For example, information about each sale (the date, the amount, to whom it was sold, etc.) detailed in the table. Then, it can be further categorized (for instance, you may want to rank the sales data —from highest payment to lowest or by the date or some other order). Tables are commonly used in reports. CrazyCall can generate 12 different reports. It’s not a coincidence that there are many ways to use tables. A single table cannot possibly show everything. There are too many rows or columns that could make it difficult for the reader to understand the data. Reducing the amount of data or separating it into additional reports about specific topics (with their own tables) is often a good idea. One thing is sure, when presenting your data in a table you need to be certain that it can stand alone without any further explanation.
The amazing thing with graphs is that they can show the trends, movement, progress, patterns… in something like a picture. Moreover, thanks to the visibility of these trends, you and the business, can react to changes very quickly; in fact, as soon as they appear on the graphed line. The same goes for making comparisons. For example, if you want to compare two agents with each other, it’s way easier to see how different their rates are if it is presented on a graph. True, the exact numbers are easier to tell by using tables, but if you need to compare something, note a trend or try to predict the future, it’s much more convenient to justify a decision based on a graph of the data. Benefits of a graph are obvious in that regard. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that you won’t be able to show on a graph. Specific information about each person called is not shown, for instance, nor are details of trending patterns. Tables would be way more useful for that. Graphs give you snapshots of the progress of your business or area of responsibility.
Dashboards contain panels, which consistent of different graphs and tables, usually sized to fit a single device screen, slide or printed piece of letter-sized paper. Dashboards are a general overview of performance and shouldn’t include too much information, just enough to tell what’s going on—the big picture. They’re the perfect introduction to more precise analytics (like tables or graphs). They allow the reader to get up to speed on the whole of your business activity and decide what items need a closer look. It’s even easier if the dashboard uses colors like green for the positive changes and red for areas in need of improvement. Dashboard-style graphics are a great convenience for directors as well as managers because they allow you to make decisions in context and know that they are justified by the detailed data you have collected.
Overall, it’s clear to see how important it is to correctly show your data. Different formats and even colors matter. Replacing a graph with a table may not seem like a big thing, but it actually makes a huge difference. The two forms simply don’t have the same purpose. That also goes for the importance of which data is being received by whom. Different levels of employees have completely different functions, perspectives and authority, such as the power to turn the analytics into rationale for actions. Understanding and acting on these few simple things can improve your company’s development.