For the past 2 years, we have had a new quest: to make raw data more understandable by making it good looking.
The people charged with this quest have added the word ‘data‘ in front of their job description, and it sounds very hip. We have ‘data-journalists‘, ‘data-scientists‘ and ‘data-artists.’ Yet, before these jobs existed, didn’t scientists and journalists already use data for their insights?
Those insights are now presented in form of infographics, which have replaced the good old PowerPoint presentation. Unfortunately, not every so called infographic will be easier to understand than the raw data. The good old ‘death by PowerPoint’ has met its maker – its re-incarnation, ‘death by infographics.’
The main idea of the infographic or the dashboard is correct. A well-placed graphic can say more then 1,000 words, but one needs to start with the content first. Which issue do we want to solve? Which story do we want to tell? What is the underlying business problem?
How does one create a useful dashboard or infographic? As the most important rule, one should first think about the issue that is to be solved with data. For example:
Marketing: Which media channels should I use to best reach my customers?
PR: Can you warn me if there is an online reputation case concerning me or my competitors?
Customer Care: Which customers should I focus on first?
Content Creation: What content is most interesting to my clients?
Sales: How do I best attract potential clients?
Business Intelligence: What kind of products are my competitors planning to use?
Thus, one must FIRST formulate the question, THEN think about the data and, only at the end, PUT it all together graphically. The master in visualization of data is Hans Rosling. See here for his stunning TED talk on world poverty.