I’m occasionally asked by journalists to describe actual cases when organizations have derived real tangible benefits from data visualization. When asked, I’m usually forced to answer in terms of generalities, for the following reasons:
- The nature of my work with clients—training and design consulting services—rarely gives me a chance to see the results of my work.
- On those occasions when I am able to see work that a client produced as a result of my services, I am rarely allowed to share it publicly.
- People often contact me to say how much they appreciate my work, especially my books and articles, but they rarely share specific, tangible benefits.
- When people have shared specific accounts of benefits, I’ve remembered only the gist of those accounts, almost never the details.
Even though we have plenty of evidence from years of research to support the tremendous potential of data visualization, we are lacking in specific accounts that confirm beneficial outcomes in the real world, either empirically in the form of measured results or anecdotally.
I was reminded of this frustrating blind spot today when I received yet another interview request from a journalist and imagined myself explaining once again that, although there is a great deal of evidence that data visualization works based on perceptual studies, etc., I have little documented evidence that it works in practice.
I need real stories from you who use data visualization to analyze and present data. Has data visualization led you to important findings? Has data visualization helped your organization increase revenues or decrease costs? Has data visualization increased efficiency or productivity? Have good decisions been made because information was presented visually?
Help me out here. Tell me about your experiences. Be my eyes where I cannot go myself to observe.