With the advent of big data, businesses — especially those in the tech industry — have access to more data than ever before about their customers, how their ads are performing, how their product is reaching people, and pretty much every other business metric you can think of.
But the practice of simply collecting tons and tons of data isn’t enough to help businesses succeed. “You can’t win that battle. Data keeps growing and growing, and you’ll sink in that lake. You can’t swim in it,” said Satyendra Rana, diwo’s chief technology officer, in an interview with CIO.
When you have that data, you need to assess it in a meaningful way — and that’s where data visualization comes in. The use of charts and graphs helps us identify trends, weaknesses, and unexpected opportunities. This holds especially true for the tech industry, which is unique in the sheer quantity of data it can access. How are tech companies using this data to transform and grow their businesses? We’ll dive into that today.
This is the second post in a series of articles on Data Visualization in Industry. You might have seen our article last week on data visualization in the health industry. In the coming weeks and months, the series will continue with articles on how data visualization is being used in marketing, science and beyond.
Gaining Customer Insights
It’s estimated that, by 2020, companies will have access to 44 trillion gigabytes of data, more than quadruple the amount in 2015.
In the tech industry, whole businesses have sprung up in the realm of analyzing huge sets of data around how people think and interact online. Targeted digital ads operate based on algorithms that analyze and predict human behavior and interests.
Amazon is one company that has built predictive models around a wealth of customer data. But it’s not the only one. For an example of how this can be done, just take a look at Google Analytics. This tool wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if it simply dropped all the information about your site traffic into a giant spreadsheet. The usefulness of Google Analytics is its visualization of this data.
With the help of Google Analytics charts, you can identify trends over time, key moments in the health of your site traffic, and the biggest drivers of your success. The tech industry uses data visualizations in much the same way to gain insights on their own customers.
Boosting Operational Efficiency
Every company needs to maximize efficiency in order to stay competitive. Careful data analysis can offer key insights on production and other key measures.
One tech company has even built a business around helping other organizations identify operational efficiency improvements. Fleetmatics builds small boxes that, once installed in a company vehicle, track mileage, fuel usage, and even speed. It offers its customers key insights on these metrics by use of an app — metrics that are communicated through bar charts and other data visualizations.
“There’s an insatiable demand for more detail,” Fleetmatics product manager Jonathan Durkee told Forbes.
Indeed, the demand for such data visualizations must be pretty high: Fleetmatics is a $1 billion market cap company.
Identifying Tech Industry Trends
Only about 22% of all data is useful — a number that’s expected to increase to 37% by 2020. So how are companies identifying meaningful insights if they’ve got so much static to wade through?
Data visualization is incredibly helpful in this realm. Companies such as Killer’s Seattle neighbors, Tableau, are committed to helping businesses visualize their big data in interactive interfaces that update automatically. Without a line chart or series of graphs, it’s much harder to see how certain decisions have affected your business as a whole, or how things have changed over time.
You can even run experiments using the data you’ve collected with the help of such companies as Talend. With Talend, you can come up with a particular hypothesis about your business or data set, then use your data to determine whether your hypothesis is valid. You can use the software to create line and bar charts. It’s the scientific method meets visual communication.
When you’ve got a lot of data on your hands, there’s really no end to what data visualization can help you achieve. In fact, it’s one of the main tools helping many in the tech industry drive their businesses forward.
View other articles in our Data Visualization in Industry series.