What is data visualization?

Data visualization, simply put, is the creation of visual representations of data. The purpose of these representations is to clearly communicate insights from data through charts and graphs. In terms of business intelligence, these visualizations serve business users to better run their business based on data.

Today's data visualization tools go beyond the standard charts and graphs used in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, displaying data in more sophisticated ways such as infographics, dials and gauges, geographic maps, sparklines, heat maps, and detailed bar, pie and fever charts

Examples of data visualization

Data visualization tools can be used in a variety of ways. The most common use today is as a BI reporting tool. Users can set up visualization tools to generate automatic dashboards that track company performance across key performance indicators and visually interpret the results.

Many business departments implement data visualization software to track their own initiatives. For example, a marketing team might implement the software to monitor the performance of an email campaign, tracking metrics like open rate, click-through rate and conversion rate.

As data visualization vendors extend the functionality of these tools, they are increasingly being used as front ends for more sophisticated big data environments. In this setting, data visualization software helps data engineers and scientists keep track of data sources and do basic exploratory analysis of data sets prior to or after more detailed advanced analyses.