August 30, 2011

Smile for the Data, Sweetie!

Marketers are used to mining data as a resource.  But effective presentation of data is increasingly less about numbers and spreadsheets, and more about turning the quant into a quality visual.

Not that Powerpoint isn’t visual, mind you.

‘Data visualization,’ the process of distilling reams of statistics into something aesthetically pleasing and functional, is quickly becoming a buzzword.

Tech companies have been doing this for years. Google Maps and Google Earth, for example, are just enormous amounts of data packaged into a useful and consumer-friendly service. 

Now marketers are catching on. Intel created the Museum of Me website which pulls Facebook photos, videos, and other archived bits to create a gorgeous, if self-absorbed, virtual exhibition. 

For marketers themselves, data visualization tools help synthesize paralyzing amounts of consumer information.  Forward-thinking agencies like R/GA are hiring computer scientists to find new ways to distill and display data. 

Easier analysis means faster insight and decision-making — and even though number crunchers abound, it’s visuals that stay with most people.  Think back to your ‘how to give a presentation’ lessons — gesture, smile, and be a presence.  That’s what’s remembered more than the content.

Data visualization creates a demand for those who are able to think mathematically as well as artistically. By using both sides of the brain, we can graph recipes that double as art work and discover new music and apps through interactive maps.

In this highly visual, digitized age, a picture’s worth a thousand words…and a million data points.