Good charts: The competitive imperative

Data visualization isn’t just for design-minded people any more.
 
“I call it the ‘competitive imperative,’” says Scott Berinato, Senior Editor at Harvard Business Review. “You have to do it better than you’re doing it now. Companies that invest in good visual communications see the benefits.” Today’s world is data-driven, but much of that data is misunderstood and underutilized, largely because of the lack of skills in data visualization.
 
“We have so much data to communicate. We run on data now,” Berinato said. “And the standard Excel output is so confusing and underwhelming and underserving.”
 
Why good charts matter: Competitive differentiation
 
“If we don’t do dataviz well, we’re doing a disservice to our customers. Other people do it well--competitors do it well--and people notice,” Berinato said. “Those who do it well are gaining edges. Managers and professionals who get better at it are going to be noticed.”

Visualization is our “shared language,” he writes:

Charts, graphs, maps, diagrams—even animated GIFs and emojis—all transcend text, spoken languages, and cultures to help people understand one another and connect. This visual language is used everywhere in the world, every day.

The social web teems with data visualizations—some practical, some terrible, some rich with insight, some simply fun to look at—all vying to go viral…. Even if you think you can’t speak this language, you hear it and understand it every day.

For example: - Dashboard maps in cars - Weather and fitness-tracking apps - Utility company bills -Newspapers, magazines, and websites - Sports broadcasts.

“Research shows, if you don’t do it well, your audience tunes you out,” Berinato said. “If you confuse them, they judge your information less credibly.”

What is a good chart?

In the Monday Luncheon and Plenary Presentation at the Technology and Transfer Conference in New Orleans, Berinato will walk the audience through all different kinds of charts. Then he’ll offer examples for how to turn humdrum charts into vehicles for real communication.

“What makes a good chart may surprise you,” Berinato said. “People are intimidated but it’s not hard, and it doesn’t have to follow all of the rules people think they know about chart-making.”

Learn more about making persuasive data visualizations at Berinato’s session at the AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference, July 9-11, 2017, in New Orleans. Berinato will discuss the competitive imperative, provide a fundamental framework for understanding what makes a good chart, and walk through several examples of how to turn ordinary, prosaic charts that show data into great visuals that communicate ideas.  Question and answer will follow the session.

The AACRAO Innovation Hub highlights emerging technologies and innovative solutions. Check out the Innovation Hub track at the Conference, which includes:

  • Data Visualization
  • Block Chain
  • Data Integration
  • Chat bot

Register now for the Technology and Transfer Conference.