A Picture is Worth a Million Data Points

Maximize every data point with Adobe Experience Cloud’s out-of-the-box visualizations.

A Picture is Worth a Million Data Points
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Companies are expected to boost their spending on marketing analytics more than 200 percent over the next three years, according to the 2018 CMO Survey. Yet organizations aren’t using marketing analytics in decision-making today, much more than they were over two years ago. Today, analytics only influence corporate decisions an average of 35.8 percent of the time.

So why the disconnect? For many organizations, it’s a lack of employee training and understanding — if employees aren’t data scientists or data analysts, they aren’t being trained to use data. And that’s a problem.

For data to be democratized, it needs to be presented in a more digestible way — in a way non-analysts can interpret and act on. Simply presenting endless data stores and 24/7 real-time insights isn’t helpful to most stakeholders and decision makers. And because they’re being left in the dark, your organization is likely missing out on opportunities anchored in that data.

The power of data visualizations

That said, being able to interpret and act on existing and real-time data doesn’t necessarily require every decision-maker and stakeholder to understand the ins and outs of data science and data analysis. With data visualization tools, for example, marketers and analysts can create visuals that speak to the data-driven trends, connections, and insights.

“We live in a world of increasing data,” says John Bates, director of product management for Adobe Analytics. “Our ability to consume that information and draw patterns from it is limited. Data visualizations are a way to be able to visually identify those patterns without having to consume a massive set of data.”

Of everything our brain processes, 90 percent is visual stimulus — and those visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Considering this — and considering that 65 percent of people are visual learners — data visualizations are one of the best ways to successfully convey complex insights derived from large data sets.

Seeing data in a graphic format helps decision-makers grasp difficult concepts quickly, identify emerging trends early, see relationships among elements, and communicate the story the data tells more effectively. Further, interactive visualization tools make it easier to drill down into charts and graphs for more details, changing what data is displayed and how.

“Most people have experience with data visualizations, whether they realize it or not,” says John. “It could be your favorite finance app or social app that’s backed by data — there’s likely a bar chart or trend line or infographic.” That familiarity, he notes, makes using data visualizations even more effective. “Interpreting them, then, doesn’t require a data scientist, because you’ve already had these experiences.”

How to put visualizations to work for you

Not only do data visualization tools help break down complex insights and trends, but they also invite creativity. A great example of this dynamic is Project Lincoln.

Project Lincoln, says Adobe Senior Experience Designer Bernard Kerr, is technology that converts data points, such as Excel lists, into appealing visuals with just a few clicks. However, unlike typical data visualizations, Project Lincoln users start by designing a graphic and then tie data to it — typically, analysts and marketers start with the data and create a graphic to match. This “flipped” approach allows for much faster and easier customization of visual data representations.

Using Adobe Analytics, it’s easy to pull data from disparate sources and, from there, create a single visualization that makes sense of complex concepts and trends — so much so that anyone in any department can interpret and act. It’s a unique democratization of data, and a powerful way to ensure everyone is on the same page and making decisions from the same jumping-off point.

“More people are able to draw conclusions or infer insights based on looking at the same visualization,” says John. “And, as a result, there’s an alignment that happens across an organization, regarding whether it’s performance, or analogies, or trends — whatever that might be. Everyone is seeing the same story.”

The flexibility of a tool that can be used by non-analysts allows for an explosion of creativity, an ongoing parade of marketing insights, and more informed decision-making across levels and areas of the business. These changes lead to increased ROI and better customer relationships.

Additionally, with the rapid efficiency of machine learning producing insights and predictions, executives are better able to make more complex decisions that yield favorable outcomes, and have better predictive capabilities to anticipate future changes.

Getting started with data visualizations — and what comes next

This is just the beginning for data visualizations. Adobe Experience Cloud’s out-of-the-box visualizations help people better understand their data and, from there, make the most of every customer interaction, every time — and that includes tapping into emerging technologies.

Since interactivity is the key to understanding voluminous data, virtual reality (VR) can take data visualization to a whole new level. The emerging trend is immersive data visualization, which joins VR technology with haptic or kinesthetic interfaces to allow users to better manipulate huge data sets and find patterns within them.

For now, though, organizations should focus on integrating data visualizations into their workflows.

“Trust your instincts,” says John. “You do have experience in data visualizations. So just start. Start with a table of whatever data you have and just experiment. We all naturally have an ability to do this — it just starts with some data and experimentation.”

Take steps to make sense of your data by leveraging new visualizations and AI in Adobe Experience Cloud solutions.

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