Visualizing Ideas and Data

Drawing inspiration from a recent article in Harvard Business Review.

Visualizing

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Spoiler alert: this is essentially a blog post about another blog post. Scott Berinato, senior editor at the Harvard Business Review, recently wrote a long-form piece in which he presents a quadrant of how to think about visualizing ideas & data. In this quadrant he accounts for why you would want to visualize something, how polished the finished product should be, who the intended audience should be, etc. It is a visualization of something most of us in BI have considered but have rarely seen so clearly explained.

When building BI apps you are essentially building apps so either you can understand the data or to present ideas from the data to someone else. Often, these are not the same app. The apps you build to research/explore/understand the data is granular and full of charts, filters, tables. The design is not very polished. It has lots of extraneous, slightly esoteric options that are understood predominantly by only the most skilled workers.

The app you use for the boardroom is sleek, well designed, summarizes the findings of the work you did before the meeting. It may be interactive but it doesn't need all of the granular details of the other app because this app is there to support conversation about the findings of the data and not to explore the data further.

I highly encourage you to read Scott Berinato's piece on visualizations. It's a great insight into what we do and why we do it!

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