“Data is the new oil,” said a data scientist named Clive Humby back in 2006, alluding to the immense untapped value of data. Nearly two decades later, it’s already clear how right he was. Business leaders across industries are recognizing how powerful data visualization and analytics can be, and integrating data into the way they run their companies.
It’s not enough to just collect data, though, since in its raw form, data isn’t especially useful. You need to apply tools and practices like data visualization and analytics to get the most out of your data. But even though data analytics and visualization have some overlap and are sometimes used as synonyms, they’re not the same.
This guide will help you understand the differences between these two important methods so you can apply them to full effect in your enterprise.
When and How to Use Data Analytics
Most people are already familiar with data analytics — the process of exploring and examining complex sets of raw data to find patterns and derive insights. The term “data visualization” doesn’t get as much attention, but it simply describes a visual representation of information in data, like a graph or chart. Even a basic bar graph can be considered a form of data visualization, though many decision-makers utilize more detailed forms of data visualization within their organizations.
In terms of when you might use data analytics, businesses use data analytics all the time in many different ways. You can analyze data related to your supply chain, for example, to learn more about previous production delays and predict supply chain issues you might encounter in the future. Then, you’d be able to use this information to optimize your processes and make changes if necessary. Other common applications of data analytics include:
- Making decisions about product offerings or pricing
- Managing safety and security
- Optimizing inventory levels
- Mitigating risks
- Improving the customer experience
Data analysis helps businesses achieve all these things and more because it converts raw, seemingly meaningless data into useful insights that can guide decision-making. You need to have access to large data sets — either internal or external data or both — to analyze if you want to reach these insights, though. The information you get from data analysis is only as good as the data you analyze.
When and How to Use Data Visualization
Typically, you’ll do some data analysis before creating or using data visualizations. Data visualizations are a way of visually representing the information you gather through data analysis. That doesn’t mean that data visualizations just represent the information, though. You can also use data visualization to run visual analytics and come up with new insights that can benefit your business.
You use data visualizations when you want to communicate information from your data sets to a broader audience than just your data science team. The data science team may also create visualizations for internal use, but typically, these visualizations are intended to make data more understandable and accessible. That way, more people within your enterprise can interact with your data. You may find that opening up your data to more team members leads to unexpected insights and new perspectives.
There are two main ways to create data visualizations — manually and with data visualization software. Unless you’re only dealing with very small data sets, data visualization tools are the way to go for most enterprises. These tools can take your data sets and automatically create a wide range of visualizations that communicate the information well. They often have dashboards, too, where you can visually track changes in your data in real time.
Benefits of Data Visualization and Analytics
Using data visualization and analytics in your business can offer some powerful benefits. Some of the benefits of data analytics include:
- Improving decision-making: Arguably the main benefit of data analytics is improving decision-making within organizations. When you apply data analytics, you’re able to make decisions grounded in real-time and historical data, leading to better overall outcomes.
- Identifying and mitigating risks: You can use data analytics to inform your risk management strategies and identify potential threats to your business. It will help you proactively address internal and external threats.
- Predict future outcomes: Data analytics can be more than descriptive analytics — an analysis of what happened in past or what is currently happening. You can also use data analysis for predictive and prescriptive analysis. These analyses offer insights into what might happen in the future and what you should do about those developments to achieve your business goals.
And some of the benefits of data visualization include:
- Communicate ideas better: The human brain is hard-wired to process visual information quickly and with ease. Using data visualization is a great way to communicate even complex information in a way people can quickly understand.
- Share information with more people within your organization: Data visualizations make it easy for more employees to see and interpret information from your data sets. If you want to bring more team members into the loop, data visualizations are an ideal solution.
- Reach new insights: Sometimes, by looking at a visual representation of your data sets, you can see patterns or trends that you never would have noticed otherwise. Data visualizations help you get as much information and actionable insights out of your data sets as possible.
Data visualization and analytics are both incredibly powerful methods your business can use together to facilitate better decision-making. In fact, enterprises that don’t take advantage of methods like these to get more out of their data will likely struggle to keep up with their competitors soon. The right data visualization and analytics tools are essential. Live Earth is a real-time data analytics and visualization platform. The platform leverages your data and a diverse selection of third-party data streams to help you make informed decisions for your business. Easily visualize your data and watch how it changes over time in relation to other data. Schedule a call today to see how Live Earth can help transform your business.