November 1, 2019

Answering Business Questions Through Visualizations

By: Barrett Johnson

There is no disputing the use of spreadsheets in the workplace. It is almost the default tool of all businesses. But when it comes to gleaning insights, spreadsheets are difficult if not impossible especially when it is unknown how the data got there or if it was manipulated prior to being used. And if you do answer your initial question in the data, can you answer other questions that arise. Here is a simple example:

In the below table, how many 9s are there?

Now, it is possible to go through line by line and count them up. With a small table like this it is possible to do but how confident are you that you did not miss one or double counted. With the help of a simple visualization, we can see the 9s easy with a highlight.

So now, we are sure there are seven 9s. But other questions now might occur such as:

  • How many are there of the other numbers?
  • What is the average count of all the numbers?
  • Are the 9s above or below the average count?

If we can use a simple visualization of this data to answer those questions. See below:

Now we can answer those questions quickly and efficiently through the power of this visualization. Moving from spreadsheets to visualizations helps our brains see the answers without having to do work. We might need another visualization to answer other questions.

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