Data Visualization

5 Ways Visual Data Can Improve Decision Making

business decisions

In a world saturated with Big Data, it is becoming increasingly important for decision makers to focus when making important business decisions. An excess of data poses a problem when it becomes irrelevant and overwhelms the decision being made. Data Visualization aids in putting the most relevant data points to work, and therefore improving decision making.

Below are 5 ways Data Visualization can improve your business’ decision-making:


Every staff member, from senior executives to sales representatives creates their own perspective on the health and structure of the company. An absence of evidence can cause these to become unrealistic. Ensuring the shared perspective is accurate is paramount to the success of the company, aiding to keep staff united on the same path. This is where Data Visualization excels. Visual representations of significant aspects of the business such as revenue and customer satisfaction ensure that everyone with access to the information understands the overarching facts and trends. It exposes and redefines perspectives that may have been unrealistic and inaccurate.

As examples, Revenue visualizations allow staff to understand overarching revenue trends, widening their perspective to the company, rather than the information they are exposed to everyday. Customer service complaint visualizations aid representatives in understanding customer satisfaction throughout the entire department, rather than just the customers they are exposed to. They also aid in identifying common issues, allowing staff to prepare and respond more adequately in the future.

Justify decisions through a narrative

Not every staff member needs to be involved in every business decision but giving decisions a narrative and tangible justification can help staff accept the changes readily, especially if the decision affects their day-to-day work environment. Data Visualizations are powerful tools that can aid in these explanations, providing solid evidence and explaining reasoning in a tangible way.

By nature, we are better at comprehending and accepting information when it’s visual. Harvard Business Review explains that using visual illustrations to express an idea or teach a concept, employs skills such as problem-solving and discovery, as well as effectively frames the issue for the reader. This level of engagement surpasses the effectiveness of an email of explanation because it creates a narrative for staff to invest themselves in.

Justifications could be required for any decision made within the business, but those affecting staff and their work are especially important. Possible decisions could include increased network security or different sales tactics to improve revenue.

For example, the IT team may see a gap in security and make changes to how staff access the network. An effective way to explain such changes would be a Visualization of the data they have collected on company security gaps and the reduced possibility of breaches due to the change. This aids staff in accepting the new safety measures and complying with them.

A Sales Manager hoping to increase sales within their department could collect the team’s sales data from the past year and create achievable targets for the team using a Visualization of past success, taking into account such data points as seasonal fluctuations and promotions. The data has aided in creating these increased targets, and the visualization has justified the changes to the staff.

Simplify decision-making with visuals

A common factor in many decision-making strategies is Risk vs. Competency. The balance of these two factors allows us to raise valuable questions: What are you best at and how does that affect this decision? What is the risk involved in this decision? How much risk is allowed? How far are you willing to go outside of your comfort zone? Visual data allows us to focus on what we know best (competency) and how our decision will affect this (risk).

Many companies are suffering from an excess of data, leading to an increased difficulty in making decisions. In these cases, it’s important to revert back to the basics of decision making, using only relevant data to inform to create simple, clear and concise visualizations. Visual data can easily become overwhelming when too many elements are involved, instead ask these two simple questions when you’re creating Data Visualizations to inform your decisions. Is this information useful? Is this information important? This simplification will greatly aid your decision-making.

Offer a better buy-in

A successful buy-in is achieved when your proposition looks more attractive than the other options available. Sometimes we need our bosses or colleagues to buy into a new idea, at other times it’s our customers. Change efforts have a 70% fail rate because they don’t have the buy-in required for success; the key to getting that support is data that backs up the change you are presenting and supports your results. Data Visualizations are a compelling way to pitch this data in a way your audience needs to invest.

Establish a connection between business operations and performance

Presenting comprehensive, visualized data in an interactive way establishes clear correlations between business operations and performance. This comparative analysis between business operations and the performance outcome of each function, aids decision makers in connecting business performance with operational systems, relating it back to organizational structure, and informing significant operational restructuring where necessary. The visualization ultimately aids in choosing the best direction for the company going forward.

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