Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Power of Visualized Analytics

In my new role at Deloitte, I have recently come across tools, such as Tableau or Qlikview, that allow users to "visualize data". To be honest I didn't think they would add much value compared to "rule-based analytic tools", such as IDEA and ACL. However, after using these tools I realized the real power of being able to visualize data in contrast to producing an exception. It brings the dashboard concept within the executive management suite to the analyst or other business professional. But as they say "seeing is believing".

So let's try an experiment.

I recently came across an amazing visualization that really illustrates that power of visualization that visualizes economic data, specifically the distribution of wealth.

But don't click on it yet!

To get the most of the experiment first read this report (which the visualization is based on) to see how the stats hit you in terms of impact.

So here is an excerpt from the Oxfam report which the visualization is based on. (The numbers at the end of the sentence are footnotes; see the original report for the sources)


So now let's see how this data (plus other sources) hits you when it is visualized:

Is there really any contest?

What I've realized is that the visualization really enables the business user to bring together multiple dimensions into a single sheet of paper and enables you to tell the story about the underlying data. Having said that, I do believe that there is a complementary relationship between visualized analytics and rule-based analytics. For example, if you want to quantify the difference between budgets-and-actuals, produce a list of exceptions, etc, then rule based analytics are better for such a purpose. Furthermore, visualizations can help explain the results of rule-based analytic procedures.

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