BUSINESS BYTES

Unlocking the power of information

  • Posted 3 years ago
  • 2 min read

By David McCandless

Data-journalist and information designer,

Using information at work to drive efficiency is a well-established practice. ‘Big data’ has become a business mantra and globally recognised brands have sprung up around the relatively simple idea of processing and organising data and information. However, despite this new data-centric approach to business, information still remains a worryingly mishandled resource.

You can fail to communicate the intended story or message when information is displayed poorly. Standard business data visualisations such as graphs and tables are all too often thrown unconsciously into reports and presentations. But far from adding value, I’d argue that this could be doing your most significant asset a huge disservice.

Information is only useful if it is presented in such a way that decision makers can understand, engage and take action. Effective data visualisations can enable businesses to find meaning in otherwise raw and difficult-to-understand figures. In short, with the appropriate interpretation and presentation, data can become your most powerful tool. And most powerful ally.

Successful data visualisation requires information to be self-sufficient and tell a clear story. Remember to put it into context. For example, a quarterly earnings report presented solely as a list of xx billions of Euros is only valuable when given a context and set against a backdrop of year on year change, against your competitors, or against the market as a whole. And make sure that you present the right data. If you try and present the whole picture by including every bit of data you can get your hands on, you will fail. Business leaders need to be able to drill into data quickly. They should not be left with the arduous task of deciphering fragmented sets of numbers.

I passionately believe that information that enlightens fuels a successful business. For the fuel to power every corner of your organisation, that information needs to be shared across the workforce.

Your information is far too important to end up in the hands of somebody that doesn’t know how to manage, understand or present it. For me, information that is exhibited well paints a clearer and more concise picture than any spreadsheet. Well-designed, informative graphics can communicate, inspire and motivate in a way that standard, default bar graphs and pie charts cannot. 

Ask yourself – what the most efficient way is to communicate with an audience and make your message heard?

The fact is, beautiful data is an excellent tool whatever your audience. The amount of information available to us today can be hard to handle and the temptation is to be lazy with it. But the truth is that it is only by putting data in a concise, contextualised, beautiful format can you really cut through the noise and make sure your point is heard and seen.

Stay connected with Canon >