Business Intelligence – Does Your Company Need Data Visualization?

Data visualization is an increasingly popular tools like Power BI and Tableau for companies to use in explaining complex information to their audiences. Whether you’re selling a complex solution to a complex problem, or you want to make a complex idea more accessible, data visualization is the way to go. Many organizations have already embraced this approach, including non-governmental organizations, publishers, financial services companies, and professional services firms.

PowerBI and Tableau

The benefits of using data visualization are many and can be both big and subtle. One of the biggest benefits is personalization – for example, allowing your potential customers to estimate the value of a complex solution to their challenges. A good example of this is the interactive graphic created by BCG and the World Economic Forum in 2010, which lets executives calculate in 90 seconds how much their companies could save by instituting a wellness program. This tool continues to be used today as a sales tool and is a great example of how data visualization can give your users value and hopefully result in increased sales and referrals for your organization.

Another benefit of data visualization is that it can enlist your audience to do the analysis that you don’t have the time, manpower, or editorial space to do yourself. Companies like Strategy& have used data visualization to help with this, creating an interactive graphic that allows companies to determine how easy it is to make acquisitions that enhance shareholder value. This type of data visualization encourages your audience to engage more with your content and stay longer on your website.

Data visualization is also a useful tool for organizations whose products or services involve numerous steps to implement or many comparisons to consider. For example, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently sponsored a data visualization challenge, asking entrants to visualize hospital pricing data. In an interactive experience, viewers can quickly and easily browse over 165,000 rows of data to find the best place to get a procedure done based on price, quality, and experience at over 3,000 hospitals across the country.

Lastly, data visualization can help organizations whose solutions go against conventional wisdom. Allowing your audience to plot the data lets them come up with the big “ahas” themselves. For example, the hospital pricing visualization above revealed that pricing for most medical procedures in Boston is actually well below average, despite its reputation for having some of the best hospitals. This type of insight would have otherwise been buried in a traditional article, but with data visualization, it can be easily discovered and spread beyond the initial reach of the organization.


Companies selling complex solutions to complex problems should embrace the power of data visualization. However, this approach does have a steep learning curve, and getting really good at it takes time, skill, and money for technology, training, and high salaries to attract professionals with the necessary skills. But for some companies, the investment is worth it, and can result in increased sales and referrals.


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