Two decades ago I had an epiphany, I was sitting in my house watching the General Election coverage on the BBC. Peter Snow was pointing out the latest results, swings, and voter demographics, on colourful charts, which got me thinking. If the BBC could achieve this with massively complicated data, why was the wholesale industry not doing it? Essentially, what most
people wanted – and still want – was information on what was going out and what was coming in.

At the time, I was working at Landmark Wholesale and we were one of the first to really buy into the idea that analysing data properly could reap benefits to the business. Despite this, most of the data that was provided to wholesalers and suppliers was presented badly and needed a lot of manual effort to provide proper analysis.

To get the info they needed, people need to export, sort, and filter. And then make their own charts. For busy operators, this just wasn’t feasible.

Data visualisation has been at the core of TWC since the beginning. But why is it so important and why is User Experience so vital for wholesalers and suppliers? I spoke to our UX (user experience) designer, Ben, to find out.

1. Visualisation can uncover the potential in your Big Data

Most businesses face a real challenge using their Big Data effectively. Frequently, the trouble lies in outdated data management systems and unintuitive spreadsheet-led dashboards which need hours of expert analysis before decisions can be made. Managers in organizations with advanced visual data recovery tools are 28% more likely to find timely information than those who rely on managed reporting and dashboards.

Visualisation via a specialist data platform can help your team quickly understand and analyse vast data sets, uncover hidden patterns and trends, and make better decisions via easy to understand dashboards. It’s the key step in doing more with your data.

{Source – Aberdeen Group}

2. Visualisation creates engagement with and understanding of vast data

Today, we live in a world of information overload. The Telegraph writes that we’re exposed to 5x more information today than in 1986. Anything we can do to make consuming this data easier makes total sense.

High quality infographics are 30x more likely to be read than plain text. Humans are much better at processing a visual than reading lines of text. Not only are they far more likely to engage with the content, they’ll understand what’s going on much faster and remember it better too.

Clever data visualisation will help your team to make better decisions faster and remember key insights longer.

3. Visualisation speeds up decision making

People who follow directions with illustrations do 323% better than those who follow text-only directions.

A Wharton School of Business study found that the use of data visualizations could shorten business meetings by 24%.

So, if we think of data as the steppingstone for most businesses’ decision-making processes, having great visuals to bring the journey to life and make sure that everyone involved understands the path ahead leads to speedy decision arrivals and shorter meetings.

4. Visualisation makes seeing patterns and trends easier

Successfully utilising data is about spotting trends and patterns, then creating strategies to either minimize or maximise their affects depending on whether they are positive or negative.

It’s much easier to do this from a well crafted visual than a big list of text data. Just imagine trying to spot a pattern or trend amongst rows and rows of spreadsheet data in the 30 minutes you have to do it before your next presentation.

This visual approach to trend analysis and pattern spotting is nothing new, we’ve all seen a line graph or scatter diagram in our careers. But, with the vast sets of omnichannel data businesses have to interpret now, a smarter approach to this process, powered by a specialist data visualisation platform, makes more sense than ever.

5. Visualisation identifies true relationships between inputs and outputs

One thing all businesses report on is operational activities vs results.

Bain & Company say organisations with the most advanced visual analytics capabilities are twice as likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their industries, twice as likely to use data very frequently for decision making, three times more likely to execute decisions as intended, and five times more likely to make much faster decisions than market peers.

Moving to a powerful data visualization platform will mean you can quickly identify, interpret and evaluate your data. This enables you to spot correlations between organisational initiatives and results, and build comprehensive strategies in an easy to understand environment based on relevant metrics that are tailored to your specific KPIs.

6. Visualisation can give an immersive and interactive experience

Storytelling has been the preferred way humans pass on information since the start of time and it’s still the number one method for exchanging information, even in our new digital age.

Our love of a good yarn isn’t a simple choice. Responses to narrative are hardwired into our brains. In 2006 NeuroImage published a paper where participants read words associated with items that had a particularly strong odour, like coffee, or lavender etc. Upon reading the word, their frontal cortex lit-up indicating they were ‘experiencing’ from a visual.

65% of people are visual learners, what’s more, MIT says 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.

A powerful data visualization platform will give you the capabilities to create and deliver the right experience for your audience that captures their interest visually and translates your data into a relevant, interactive and engaging narrative that’s easily understood.

7. Visualisation generates greater trust in presentations and communications

68% of people will believe that information is accurate and truthful if a scientific claim is presented in pure words or numbers. This number rises to 97% if you put a simple graph with the number.  

Recently there’s been a significant rise in searches for information graphics – infographics. In the past five years alone, searches for them have increased 25 times. It seems people trust a picture more than just words. This is partly due to ease of understanding, but, probably also likely due to the media they engage most with. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc are all highly visual, for example. Dan Zarella, HubSpot’s Social Media Scientist says tweets with images are 94% more likely to be retweeted than tweets without.

Visuals in communications are now not just the norm, they’re expected. Using a data platform that delivers engaging visuals which back up your facts and figures could boost your chances of delivering a successful pitch or presentation by up to a third.

8. Visualisation reduces costs associated with data interpretation and management

A more visual data platform will save your business time and money. Firstly, you don’t need a specialist data wizard to translate the outputs from a well put together visual data system, you’ll understand them yourself.

Secondly, the time it takes to get to correct decisions is drastically reduced as inputs and outputs can be easily mapped, analysed and understood and pathways to create actionable strategies can be formed in a well signposted and time efficient way.

Thirdly, access to data is hugely simplified meaning more of your team can see, understand and utilise the data in their daily workflows. This further reduces inefficiencies and strategizing actions via data-led insights. Aberdeen Group say organisations that use visual data discovery are able to get analytics into the hands of 48% more of their employees than those that just depend on other forms of business intelligence.

All of this is why easy to understand visual data has been a tenet of TWC from the very beginning. It’s why we’ve always placed UX methodology at the heart of everything we do, and why everything we create has visual simplicity at its core. We want our users to be able to easily embrace the data they hold in their system and get to the killer facts quickly.

For us, data visualisation is what makes or breaks user engagement with our platform and wholesale shipment data in general. After all, there’s no point in reviewing numbers for the sake of it, these numbers need to bring actionable facts that businesses can use to make real decisions. Especially in today’s difficult and competitive markets.

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