There is data everywhere, but there is no right platform for enterprises to bring data to use. This had been a challenge that was faced by many businesses before data visualization tools were introduced. With the value of these tools coming to light, these tools have quickly been adapted by many businesses for analytics.
Where the human brain interprets pictures, sizes and colors faster than texts and numbers, data visualization has come as the right fit to champion this cause. Data visualization has helped businesses grow by guiding them to look into and understand grey areas of their operations, improving efficiency of their current processes as it has also proved to be of value in many other use cases.
Data visualization for a start
The earliest tools for data visualization were Excel and PowerPoint. These tools were used to generate reports and presentations. The challenge faced by users of these tools was that the end users were not able to analyze their data based on multiple parameters. Therefore, end users had to rely on the developer to generate new charts each time they had new questions that sought relevant answers.
Second generation data visualization
Then next generation of visualization tools gave a new twist to data visualization. They provided great flexibility in building dashboards with multiple charts, thereby helping end users to get an understanding leveraging multiple parameters. Though this helped organizations seek value from data, end users were not able to dynamically analyze dashboards as they were not able to interact with the dashboards.
Now, to address challenges mentioned above, companies like Qlikview, SAP, among others came with ideal solutions, where they developed products to empower end users with the ability to interact with the charts, apply filters etc.
Current trend – NLP Powered Self-service BI
The new generation tools that are called the Self Service BI Tools (like Tableau, PowerBI) have gone one step ahead. Their products give the end user the much needed ability to edit reports, build charts on their own achieved through user friendly steps thereby allowing a greater flexibility for the end user. The current market tools are mostly self-service BI tools. The latest addition to these tools includes NLP, Natural Language Processing, which enables the end user to interact with the dashboard through text or voice. Various businesses are utilizing the embedding capabilities of BI tools for utilizing dashboards in their native applications.
Data Visualization for the future – Fusion of BI and AR
Augmented Reality (AR) is creating ripples across tech industry, and very soon it will have its impact felt in BI also. AR can be a game changer for BI. It can give the flexibility that an end user wants to view dashboards in the three dimension mode, unlike the current trend where two dimensional charts are prevalent, with interactivity by hand gestures among other alluring features. For easier understanding, this can be compared with Jarvis from Iron Man movie. Moreover, with growing application of NLP in BI tools blended with AR would almost negate the use of a human for dashboard developments.
As visual data stories continue to excite and empower business users, there is more that data visualization can offer in the future. With emerging technologies like NLP and AR entering the data visualization domain, business users can be rest assured to maximize value from visual data stories and data on the whole.