Data is essential for every business. However, in this world where we have access to so much data, it’s hard to contextualize it. Without context and a visual representation of data, it’s difficult to derive insights valuable for business. Visualization of business data is meant to solve this issue. In this article, we focus on data visualization and its importance for business.
Importance of data visualization in business
As we gather more data daily, data visualization becomes essential for businesses. It helps reach decisions faster because it enables viewers to gain better insights from patterns and trends. With the help of business data visualization, you can benefit from 6 analytic functions:
- Part-to-Whole: see how a data point (metric/channel/variable) fits into the whole picture. For instance, how much traffic comes from email marketing as part of the whole website traffic?
- Comparison: you can compare two data points on the same variables. For example, you can compare the revenue in 2022 with that in 2021.
- Distribution: it shows how certain data points are distributed. For instance, the distribution frequency of a feature or how many customers actually use a certain feature.
- Flow: see the flow of tasks, data points, or steps. This is great for creating workflows or guidelines for users.
- Change over Time: spot how a certain metric evolved over a period. For example, see how website traffic increased in the last year.
- Spatial: you can visualize geospatial data. For instance, you can see the countries your shoppers are placing orders in and observe which countries you need to focus more on.
Before digging deeper, let’s start with the basics.
What is business data visualization?
Business data is compiled of all of the information related to a company and its operations. Everything from brand characteristics to data collected from customers is part of one business’s data.
Data visualization is the visual representation of data and information. Graphical representation of data puts it into context and provides a clear overview.
Imagine having hundreds of different pieces of the puzzle made out of wood, plastic, and carton. Your first instinct would be to separate them into categories based on the material they were made of and put them together to create various puzzles. The same goes for data visualization.
When you have multiple pieces of information and data, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions without visualizing them correctly.
Business data visualization examples
There are tens of types of business data visualization. We talk about them below. Meanwhile, you might wonder how exactly would they look in an actual dashboard or report. Here are three different examples of data visualization in business.
Marketing analytics report
This is an example of a report created in Looker (formerly, Google Data Studio) with data exported from Google Analytics. It focuses on user behavior and includes various data and information, from pageviews to page title popularity. This marketing data visualization can be used to see various patterns in customer behavior and to spot pages that are not as performant as expected.
Sales leads dashboard – Customer base overview
The sales department works with a lot of data, just like the marketing team. That’s why sales dashboards are common data visualization examples. In this dashboard, you can see where your leads are coming from and track dynamics to manage your sales effort and make accurate predictions.
HR applicants pipeline report
Another department in which data is crucial is HR. Human resources specialists need to know how many people they’ve managed to hire, what is the turnover rate or retention rate, and how much the cost is per new hire. This applicant’s pipeline report contains all of this data, and it’s easier to understand and analyze.
How can data visualization help in a business
Businesses need to collect and turn data into paths, trends, patterns, and relationships which are not easy to spot from numerical data and other forms of representation. Data visualization helps them fulfill various strategic or operational objectives. Customer data, for instance, is crucial for most businesses because it offers an overview of your customer’s behavior. This will help you make informed decisions.
For example, an eCommerce platform can see which products are bestsellers and which are just collecting “dust” and need to be replaced. By turning simple geographical or demographical data into graphs and charts, data becomes an essential factor for decision-making and forecasting.
Also, according to Bain & Company, companies that use data visualization are 5 times more likely to make faster decisions and 3x more likely to execute them than their competitors.
Business benefits of data visualization
Data visualization can have a major impact, especially on business intelligence. Here are a few benefits of using data visualization for business.
One of the biggest benefits of data visualization is that it helps professionals understand data easier. This, of course, has a major impact on decision-making. For example, you invest in LinkedIn Recruiter to hire more people. After testing it for 1-2 months, you will need to compare the number of newly acquired employees from this period to the ones from before using the tool. Apart from checking the number of new employees, you should also calculate the cost of acquisition to see if it’s a good choice for your current budget.
Identify patterns and trends
Another great thing that data visualization brings to the table is that it helps you identify trends or patterns. This brings a lot of value for businesses, especially those in retail. Why? You can see how the shopping patterns of your customers have changed over time. This allows you to make informed decisions when it comes to inventory forecasting, for instance.
Also, discovering patterns allows businesses to adapt their strategies and include new sales or marketing tactics.
Most businesses have various departments, from financial to sales and marketing, and all of these departments collect different data. Sales focus on revenue, leads, closed deals, and retention rate, while marketing focuses on customer acquisition cost, website traffic, and conversion rate. While all of these data are important, it’s also helpful to identify correlations between different metrics.
With data visualization, you can find correlations between the recurring revenue and the conversion rate or between the number of qualified leads and the churn rate. Some metrics might impact others, but without spotting these correlations, it’s hard to know this and make informed decisions. Be careful, though – you may come across misleading data visualization examples that appear to show correlations where there are none.
Make data accessible to stakeholders
While each professional knows and understands the data they work with, it might be harder to share specific insights hidden within the raw data with stakeholders. By creating graphic representations of data, you can make data more accessible to stakeholders or other teams that might not be familiar with the metrics you track and analyze.
Also, thanks to data automation, you don’t have to manually create dashboards and reports to present to stakeholders. You can rely on a user-friendly tool Coupler.io that helps you export information automatically from various apps like LinkedIn ads and Asana directly to Excel, Google Sheets, or BigQuery.
How to use data visualization in business
There are various ways and moments in which you can use data visualization in business – from automated reporting to strategic decision-making. As a data automation and analytics platform, Coupler.io can be the solution to cover all your use cases related to visualizing business data and beyond. You can opt for our data analytics consulting service to handle any of the following use cases and get professional help in any data-related issue, from building a self-updating dashboard to setting up a data management infrastructure.
Meanwhile, let’s see the most common cases when data visualization in business is used.
Build decision-making powered by data
Data-driven decision-making means using data, facts, and metrics to make strategic business decisions that align with your goals and objectives. It’s hard to be objective, especially regarding something you suggested, but data visualization helps you make objective, data-driven decisions.
Let’s say you proposed a new content marketing strategy focusing on creating and sharing videos on different channels (Instagram, Facebook, etc.). While this trend works well for many B2C businesses, it might not be the right choice for a B2B SaaS product. By analyzing data and metrics such as website traffic from social media channels, you will observe if your new approach has a positive impact on business or not.
One of the most common uses for business data visualization is to share information and business insights between teams or members of a company.
For instance, marketing and product teams must work together for business growth. While marketing teams look at metrics like cost per acquisition, return on investment, and the number of qualified leads, the product teams focus on customer lifetime value, churn rate, and product usage. Each team rests on the raw data they take from their sources, and they need to share this information with each other in the most efficient way as this is essential to align their activities to reach their scaling goals. With the help of data visualization, the product and marketing teams can turn their raw data into an actionable report or dashboard that showcases complex relationships and correlations between churn rate and the number of qualified leads.
Reports and analysis
Data visualization makes it easier for everybody to digest a large amount of data compiled in one report. If you were to bring all of the data you included in a presentation to the meeting, you might need a few days to make a point. With simplified, graphic reports, everybody can spot different trends, understand when there’s growth in a sector, or spot the areas where there’s still work to do.
Validate a new approach/channel
When you implement a new approach or choose a new channel for paid advertising, you need to see some results before you decide if it’s the right path for your business. With the help of data visualization, you can see if you’ve seen the impact of a new approach in a certain period of time. For example, you decide to implement a paid advertising campaign on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. After a month, you might want to see some data to know how each platform is performing. LinkedIn ads have a higher cost of acquisition but tend to bring in more qualified leads, while Facebook and Twitter might bring more traffic with a higher return on investment, but the conversion rate is lower.
With data visualization, you can see how each channel is performing and compare the results taking into account different metrics. Then, depending on your business needs and budget, you can choose the right channel or channels for advertising.
Another way in which you can use data visualization is for forecasting. This is important for all types of businesses to build any sort of predictions to rest upon. For example, you can forecast the budget for the next year by analyzing data from past years.
For SaaS businesses, forecasting has a major impact. SaaS revenue forecasting helps you understand and predict how much money you can generate from product sales over a period of time. By constantly forecasting the revenue, you will be incentivized to focus on growing your business to reach your goal.
Types of business data visualization
Depending on the type of data you are working on and what you would like to identify, you can choose from various business data visualization types:
This is one of the most commonly used types of data visualization. It’s easy to understand, and it allows you to compare different data points. You can use bar charts to show sales over a period of time or how much traffic comes from different channels or sources.
Another great type of business data visualization is the line chart. This is simple to create, and it can showcase various data points. It is best suited when you want to compare and show the fluctuation of certain data points over time.
This is a type of data visualization used to showcase a correlation between variables. However, it’s best to use scatter plots only when you have 2 variables and few data points. For more data points, the graph will become impossible to read.
Donut charts are amazing data visualizations that analyze part-to-whole ratios. For example, if you create a donut chart for expenses per department, you can see which department has a bigger budget.
The pyramid chart is another type of data visualization that focuses on showing the part-to-whole ratio. In the example below, you can see how many of the whole visitors have ended up making a purchase of downloaded content.
The main point of a funnel chart is to visualize a sequential process from top to bottom. It’s also great for showing the different stages of a funnel, and it’s commonly used by marketing teams. Read more about Looker Studio funnel visualization in your blog.
A flowchart helps you visualize the necessary steps or tasks needed to reach point A to point B. It’s best suited for creating workflows or for showing the hierarchical data of items.
Gantt charts are useful assets, especially for event planning and management. You can immediately see when a certain task needs to be performed, the responsible department or worker, and how that task fits in the whole picture.
Tools for data visualization in business
Now that we’ve covered what data visualization is, why it is important, and what types of data visualization you can use, let’s take a look at some of the best tools to help you create custom reports and dashboards.
Looker (Google Data Studio)
This is one of the best tools for business data visualization, especially for marketers, because it can automatically withdraw data from Google Analytics and Search Console. This way, you don’t have to export and import data from one tool to the other.
It’s easy to use, and it comes with predefined templates that will make your job a lot easier. You can create different types of reports, from YouTube, BigQuery, Google Analytics, and Search Ads. Bonus, it is web-based and free, making it suitable even for small businesses or agencies.
Microsoft Power BI
Another powerful data visualization tool that can help you create insightful reports is Microsoft Power BI. If you are using Microsoft Office, then Microsoft Power BI is the right choice for you.
Apart from its easy-to-use interface, it has built-in AI capabilities and data security features that are easy to scale with your business.
If you are looking for an intuitive user experience in your data visualization tool, Tableau is the right choice for you. It has built-in visual best practices that allow you to create charts and graphs that perfectly capture the key value of data.
Since customer data is sensitive information that should never end up in the wrong hands, Tableau provides enterprise-grade security.
At Coupler.io data analytics consulting service, we benefit from all these tools for advanced reporting & analytics for businesses. For your project, you can specify your requirements for a customized auto-updating dashboard, including which BI solution you want to use for it. The rest is handled by our data experts.
What’s the business value of data visualization?
Data visualization is essential for every business, no matter the size. Business data visualization allows you to understand data easier and to make better, more informed decisions in terms of adjusting budgets, validating new channels or strategies, improving the collaboration between departments, and spotting anything that is not working for your business.
Using tools like Tableau, Coupler.io, and Looker helps you save time while creating graphs and charts that will make data analytics easier.Back to Blog