How data visualization can help your company and your career
Not long ago, Harvard Business Review named “Data Scientist” the “sexiest job of the 21st century” – and we’re inclined to agree. In short, Database Analysts turn raw numbers into plain English. In the business world, this can mean sales statistics, logistics & transportation data, marketing research, and more. The DBA’s goal is to take sets of information related to an organization’s KPIs (key performance indicators) and use them to help the organization make informed, data-driven decisions.
Sound glamorous? We think so too. While every player in your organization can use data, DBAs get to dive into key metrics and understand them on a completely different level. Communicating the implications of this data to stakeholders isn’t always an easy task, and that’s where the DBA’s secret weapon comes in: Data visualization.
Data done right can – and will – impress your boss
Data visualization fuels insight. When compiling and communicating data is part – if not the majority – of your job, it’s crucial that you learn how to communicate data in an effective way. The end result is data that isn’t bland; it’s impressive. Here are a few ways to make sure your data research leaves a mark:
- Focus on insight. If your organization needs data to make decisions (and it probably does), your goal as a DBA is to find data that prompts good decisions. This type of information is called “actionable data,” and should cut through any confusion regarding the organization’s progress and help you develop a plan. Without insight, data is little more than rows of numbers in a spreadsheet, but with it, data can be the springboard that pushes your team toward success.
- Keep it simple. The more time you spend boiling data down to its core insight, the less time your boss will have to spend doing the same. This is the essence of the DBA’s role in an organization, and the better you are at it, the more likely you are to leave a great impression. In addition to creating distilled, easy-to-understand sets of data, you’ll need to focus on keeping your data visualization simple, too. Focus on choosing the right charts and graphs for each metric so your bosses can quickly understand the numbers behind them.
- Be honest and positive. Data is objective, right? Sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to build morale, your reputation, and your boss’ reputation as well. If you’re solely focused on using data to find problems, stakeholders might be wary of your perpetually-negative outlook. Instead, keep in mind that positive growth can lead to actionable data too. Remember: “This plan is working so we should keep building from it” can be just as effective as “I found X number of problems and we need to fix them now.”
Data visualization is a critical skill for data scientists, and here’s why:
If you’re a DBA and your job is to simply compile information, ask yourself, “What would happen if I took this one step further and made it immediately useful to my organization?” This means you’ll need to understand not only your organization’s data, but have the right tools to bring it to life. Dashboards allow you to conduct data-driven experiments and see their result; they let you make tangible differences in your organization; and they let you back up your strategies with real data.
The result? Confident decisions that have a positive impact on your job and the overall success of your company. So go ahead: make suggestions, make changes, make a difference, and (just maybe) make a play for that promotion!
The right tool for your job
It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek out the best tools for your project. When it comes to picking the best data visualization software, make sure the tool you choose is suited to the needs of your organization. You’ll want a data visualization tool that can easily share metrics with key stake holders, while still protecting the underlying data. A dashboard tool that offers drag-and-drop design features with hundreds of chart and graph types, allowing you to display your data exactly the way you want. You’ll certainly want to suggest a software that priced attractively, so that your cost does not outweigh the benefit. Perhaps a software that you can try for free for 30 days, so you can get a jump start on becoming an expert? You know where we’re going with this…