The Role of Data Visualization In Business Intelligence

Apple computer with charts displayed on the screen


Business intelligence – or BI – is a technology-driven process that aims at collecting data and analyze it to extract actionable insights from it. Such insights will help you, your team, and your company to make more informed business decisions, backed by analysis and figures.

Data Is The Raw Material For Business
Leading companies have realized that business data and content is not to be managed separately from the rest of the information management. More than ever, CEOs and managers recognize that data-driven decision making is essential and that a “data-oriented” mindset can be a competitive advantage.

That omnipresence of data pushes managers to equip their business with self-service BI tools. Such tools allow employees to extract relevant, important information from their company’s immense collection. They enable employees to perform sophisticated analyses and glean insights even without a strong technical background.

BI is certainly not just hype, as it addresses the real need from companies looking to relieve managers from time-consuming, complex data extraction and formatting, allowing them instead to focus on more value-added tasks.

Why Data Visualization Is So Important
First and foremost, data visualization is important for a simple psychological reason: We are wired for visuals. Half of our brain is dedicated to visual functions, and 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.

We process images 60,000 times faster than text, which explains why traffic signs that are graphics and not text, for example. This is why we resort to visual data reports as often as we can. Visuals stick in the long-term memory and improve comprehension, a key factor in interpreting data.

In a world where we can produce an astonishing figure of 5,6 zettabytes of data in a year, visualization tools are highly needed. Data-visualization can help our audience understand the significance of data, as long as one follows the right process and avoid common data visualization mistakes.

Data Visualization Applied To Business Intelligence
Once data is made interpretable, comes the “get value/spark action” moment. How do I communicate this data way that can be understood by everyone? Business leaders need the ability to easily drill down into the data to see where they can improve operational processes and to grow their business. Data visualization brings business intelligence to life.

Data visualization also provides
– A new, more creative approach that improves drastically our ability to understand the information hiding in it, in a more constructive way. We can interact with it like never before, and ask the right questions to find the insights we are looking for more easily.

– A better and faster way to identify patterns, trends, and correlation in the data sets that would remain undetected with a text or figure-based nature. We can hence act on them as soon as they are spotted. We can also see the areas that need attention or improvement and bring them an appropriate response.


– Greater chances to identify new business opportunities when they arise predict upcoming trends or sales volumes and the revenue they would generate, and be less subjected to day-to-day fluctuations and surprises.


The Impact Data Visualization Has On Our Understanding
BI software enables users to connect almost any data sources and work on them all jointly, for a smoother and enhanced analysis. The possibility to visualize the data in many different ways – from pie charts to area maps to bar graphs to gauge charts, etc. makes the content attractive and all the more informative: a fitting chart speaks better than anything because different views answer different questions!

Let us take an example with the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere:



Showing this composition as a table, a pie chart or a line chart will not give the same impression.

As we can see, the line chart will display the information but it will not really be understandable, as the line charts are preferred when it comes to evolution over time. This graph choice is not the right one.

In this case, it is of course much better to show the composition of the Earth thanks to a pie chart, since the different gases are part of a whole.

Data Visualization in The Corporate World
These graphs and charts are then usually gathered under various business dashboards. These dashboards enable convey the data-driven message effectively because they make the rows and columns of the gigantic amount of data easily understandable combination charts. They provide top-management with real-time snapshots of the state of their business, letting them act on time when necessary.

To illustrate it, here is an example of a retail dashboard example, focused on customers and their behavior: orders, returns, the volume of sales, etc.

Click here to check this interactive dashboard set up by Datapine using Highcharts:

With such a dashboard, the retailer can see all the important KPIs he or she needs to focus on to manage the stores. He/she indeed has the metrics displayed on the dashboard, but considering the sales revenue alone is not sufficient. Monitoring the difference performance of sales by area, as well as the best sellers for the different categories of articles, along with the evolution of the average transaction price and size provides an overview of how the business is going. Tracking these KPIs and seeing them all at one glance brings all the elements together to tell the whole story. It is a considerable advantage for businesses regarding self-improvement and growth.

The more data you collect, manage, and understand, the more able you become in making strategic business decisions.

Visualization is key to convey a message loaded with figures as it manages to bring to life and to understanding what you can get from complicated, often seemingly unrelated, raw data collection. That way, decisions, and actions can be undertaken more easily and with a better comprehension of the big picture.