Data visualization is the most important stage of data analytics. If you’re not uncovering meaningful patterns in your datasets that lead to insights, you may as well not have bothered with the rest of the process. Data visualization is, simply put, the best way for a business user with limited data science experience to reveal these insights. As Chi-Yi Kuan, Director of Business Analytics at Linkedin, noted in a recent interview with us, ‘In the age of big data, there are mountains of data in every company. If you don’t have effective visualization, it won’t yield a grain of insights and returns.'
An effective visualization helps users to get to the right data easily and answer a specific question visually. The human brain has remarkable pattern recognition capabilities, but the majority of people struggle to comprehend anything that they cannot visualize in some way. There are now many companies who make big money from data visualization tools looking to fill this need. However, many of these tools do not deal with the rising complexity of data sets. As the amount of data companies collect grows, data projects require an increasingly granular method of presentation to tell the full story. Today’s tools are often highly inefficient because they do not truly consider the science behind human visual perception and choose instead to focus on aesthetics - pretty charts that move about a lot but reveal very little. They cannot effectively visualize more than two or three dimensions, and don’t allow for exploration from numerous perspectives.
Poor data visualization tools are a cognitive bottleneck on the path between data and discovery. But there could be a technology set to complete turn things around: Virtual Reality (VR).
According to research firm IDC, the market for augmented and virtual reality is expected to grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to $162 billion in 2020, with tech companies like Facebook-owned Oculus making significant advances in the consumer market. Research in VR has already yielded a number of important discoveries, particularly in areas where the primary dimensions are spatial, such as the healthcare and underground cave analysis structures. As the technology evolves, as it is only going to over the next decade, such stories are only going to become more frequent.