Why Data Visualization and Dashboards Matter

* Data Basics| * Use Cases & Projects | | Alivia Smith

Data teams spend a majority of their time cleaning and wrangling data in order to extract valuable business insights. The numbers should speak for themselves, so oftentimes data visualization and dashboarding is an afterthought at best or a distraction at worst. But the importance of visualization comes back to communication, and is an integral part of the business value in a model.


The Path from Data to Meaning

The actual work of data teams and the insights they generate remain obscure for many business-oriented teams and decision makers. In an ideal organization, data understanding would be distributed across teams, but silos are an unfortunate reality that perpetuate confusion and diminish the business impact and value of data.

When decision makers cannot fully comprehend data teams' conclusions, they are less likely to implement the changes that these insights would advise. When data teams present findings that differ from executives’ intuition, nine out of ten executives ask for more data instead of trusting the data processes.

Even when business leaders trust their data teams, it’s frustrating to accept advice without full understanding and visibility into the mechanisms that lead to those conclusions.


Transparency and good communication are key in any business decision, and data visualization allows decision makers to extract understanding from all the data, rather than receiving only a (necessary) simplification. Visualization breaks models out of the black box of AI and enables teams to collaborate to drive the business value creation from the models.

Why Dashboards?

Data visualization is a key deliverable allowing business-oriented teams to understand data teams’ work and conclusions: communication remains essential. But dashboards take visualization to the next level by creating context around a single image (and minimizing some of the potential for accidentally misleading visualizations).

Dashboards are great places to collect related visualizations to drive a more complete understanding (so long as the graphs are updated frequently). Yet dashboards can quickly become cluttered and confusing, so it's important to evaluate what visualizations will actually be useful in generating understanding.


The main difference between basic data visualization and dashboards revolves around how frequently data is updated. While data visualizations are just generated from data, dashboards are regularly updated according to dataset modifications. Plus, dashboards enable easier comparisons between models driven by databases of vastly different sizes and types.

Dashboards have the added benefit of helping data team members collaborate and business-oriented users play with data and filter graphs to help expand their understanding.

Leverage Fluid Dashboarding 

Visualization can't operate in a vacuum; it must be integrated into workflows in order to drive business value. Explore our report on DS, AI, and ML Tools for the Enterprise to learn more about why (and how) to incorporate tools into your workflow to achieve real-time visualizations.

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