For centuries, humankind has sought new ways to explain the unknown. From the rise of early maps in the 1500s to the origination of measurement throughout the 17th century to modern charts, diagrams, and visualizations today, data visualization has become an imperative in communications—both internal and external—as the practice has begun to experience a renaissance in recent years.

Today, we would like to explore the modern role of data visualization in business, and discuss how companies are finding new ways to leverage affordable, intelligent, and easy-to-use tools as they look to make smarter business decisions.

Visualization, Defined

Per SearchBusinessAnalyticsData visualization is a general term that describes any effort to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context. Patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can be exposed and recognized easier with data visualization software.

The Importance of Visualization

With 2.5 quintillion bites of data being produced each day by businesses and consumers, executives and decision makers are looking for ways to generate value from this ever-increasing pool. Enter visualization, a concept used for centuries that is experiencing a renaissance thanks to technology and analytics.

There are many reasons for this renaissance in visualization, most notably that humans are better at processing images than they are at analyzing numbers or text. According to the Visual Teaching Alliance, studies show that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, and our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour.

Data is Beautiful: Three Reasons Data Visualization Empower Businesses of All Sizes

The beauty (and value) of visualization exists in three factors—universality, speed, and experimentation.

  • Visualizations Are Universal: While only some of us can see the big picture by looking at a set of numbers, visualization makes it easier for non-technical people to get a grasp of what the numbers mean.
  • Visualizations Are Fast: Nowadays, visualizations are nearly automatic. After setting up sources, feeds, and parameters, you can generate a report with a few clicks, or make it even easier by leveraging real-time dashboards.
  • Visualizations Let You See What’s Happening (as well as explore what might happen): Just a few years ago, generating a report took hours—if not days—and most companies were only able to focus on the most important factors. Thanks to advancements in technology, even small companies can slice and dice numbers in new ways. Today’s reports include wider data sets and can be generated in minutes, allowing for broader and deeper analysis and better decision making.

The Role of Business Intelligence

We’ve come a long way from single-source reporting within legacy applications, and we’ve come even further than trying to do anything with the available graphs in a spreadsheet. Today’s business intelligence tools can leverage dozens of sources at once to come up with the truth in the numbers.

Business intelligence (BI) tools make this possible. Business intelligence tools are designed to measure, analyze, and visualize data from a variety of sources to see the big picture in your numbers. With BI tools, users can integrate multiple data streams, slice and dice the numbers how they see fit, and present compelling visualizations.

How Technology is Making Analytics and Visualization More Important and Affordable than Ever

Have you ever heard of Moore’s Law? Initially used to explain how the number of transistors on a chip would double every 18 months, the law has since evolved to explain the decreasing cost of technology available. Nowadays, a $600 smartphone has more capabilities than the computers used to put men on the moon, and technology once available to Fortune 500 companies can be leveraged by SMBs and startups.

The same phenomenon exists for business intelligence software. Less than a decade ago, there were a few key players in the market, whose solutions targeted large multinationals. Now, small and mid-market firms can take advantage of affordable and easy-to-use business intelligence software. One of these options is Microsoft Power BI, released to the public in 2015.

Learn More: Get to Know Power BI

Microsoft’s Power BI is an easy to implement and easier to use, and is quickly becoming a leading option for businesses who want to take a new look at their legacy data. Designed to work with dozens of applications out of the box, and even more with the help of customization partners like, this platform is giving companies small and large a modern way to extract value from their numbers.

Since its introduction, Power BI has continued to expand, adding new integrations, new features, and new visualization capabilities.

Break down silos, collaborate across the organization, and take control of your data in 2018 with Power BI by Microsoft, and customization by