Data Visualization

Data is a hot topic. People buy t-shirts saying: “data visualization” or “data is the new bacon.” True story - you can check it out online. With the digitalization era, data went from scarce, expensive, difficult to find and collect to abundant and cheap, very difficult to process and understand. That’s when the concept of big data emerged. Incredible amounts of information so vast that they were challenging to capture, store, interpret and analyze with traditional software. What is Data Visualization and how does it help us grasp information? All of this material is only as good as what we can make of it. As individuals and businesses terabytes of data sitting in a data center, unused, is a burden. If correctly processed, it can become digital gold. Big data is often combined with machine learning to create predictive analytics or other analytics processes that bring the value of information to life. Still, if you do not own a Ph.D. in data science, the raw details can remain unclear. That is where data visualization comes into play. Data visualization is the process of taking raw data, transforming it into graphs, charts, images and even videos that explain the numbers and allow us to gain insights from it. Data visualization changes the way we make sense of the information to create value out of it, discover new patterns and spot trends. Let’s think about a simple example. How do you create a story to tell your boss out of thousands of rows of data in an Excel spreadsheet? An easy way is to create a chart such as a pie or a bar chart of the same data. Now you have a visual representation of data and can start analyzing and integrating it into your business, giving meaning and purpose to the original raw data which has now undergone the process of data visualization. The Impact of Data Visualization on the Travel Industry In the business travel industry, data visualization truly empowers travel managers and reporting users by providing clear and actionable insights into their programs. A data-driven program brings value to all stakeholders, from the finance controller to the security manager and the HR manager to travelers themselves. Data visualization allows for better control and prediction of travel spend while increasing travel security and satisfaction. Imagine if you could get a visual representation of your past, current and future travel spend to your chief financial officer. Or if you could visualize the impacts of each change, you make to your travel policies or negotiated rates. What about if you could see where your travelers are frequently disrupted and what would be better alternatives? The possibilities are endless, and data visualization can keep you ahead. Data visualization is not only a creative process but also a very linear process of making decisions based on some few basic principles. Three things should inform your design always. One is you, as the designer, what you have to say and what you want to communicate. Two is the reader. That reader is not you, and they are going to come with their context and their own biases and their assumptions, and you need to account for that. The third one is the data itself and how that informs the truth. How humans have evolved and how does it relate to data visualization? People are evolved to make instant decisions based on visualized data. There is a lot of subconscious activities happening inside the brain. We have evolved to recognize certain things and make snap decisions. “Are all those lines dried grass or is that a tiger that is coming to eat me?” We evolved to recognize specific patterns quickly and make decisions in milliseconds to survive. Therefore, that can be an advantage as a designer. You can communicate with a lot of information very quickly because we all have brains that are designed to recognize patterns this way. It can help you with data visualization and seeing the meaning in specific patterns.

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