Independent Thinking Blog

Using Data Visualization to Make Real-Time, Relevant Business Choices

We’re awash in data, but can we tap it wisely?

Author Phil Simon wants to help.

Simon understands data. His last book focused on demystifying Big Data; his new book focuses on how savvy companies are using data visualization tools to “understand [data], interpret it, and ultimately take action on it”:

“Visual organizations have moved well beyond simple charts, graphs, and dashboards that play nice with structured, transactional data… They are using new tools to make sense of unstructured data, metadata (data about data), and other emerging data types and sources.”


The Visual Organization is not about tools, it’s about what the tools can enable.

In the book, Simon highlights the kinds of information that data visualization can facilitate, including asking better questions, making better business decisions, and helping employees understand what has happened, what’s happening, and what’s about to happen (and, also, perhaps, “why”). Plus, of course, discovering new insights from existing datasets and sources and diagnosing and addressing emerging issues.

The book showcases a big brand (Netflix), a start-up (Wedgies), and a university system (Texas) that have embraced data visualization and deployed data visualization tools to improve decision making both in real-time and over time. There’s also a fascinating look at a company (Autodesk) that has developed a data visualization tool that maps the movement of employees into, out of, and across its organization. Plus, of course, a section devoted to getting started and becoming a visual organization.

Forget gigabytes and terabytes. We’re now measuring data in pentabytes and exabytes.

Are you getting an accurate picture of what all this data means for your company?

The Visual Organization is an important book, but it is not a simple business book filled with actionable takeaways you can implement tomorrow. In many ways, it is a follow-up to Simon’s last book, Too Big to Ignore—you know what Big Data is and what we can do with it, now understand how to make this information actionable for your business.

Even my small business is looking at Big Data. Which means, arguably, that this is a topic no organization can afford to ignore.

**Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Visual Organization in exchange for agreeing to review it–but without any restrictions on what I might say.


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