The Importance of Data Visualization in Operations Management
In several previous posts, I talk about data visualization. If you recall, data visualization is the art of persuasion.
It’s the ability to translate data and complex content into a graphic that delivers a strong message in a quick and simple manner.
In today’s business environment, we are pressed to deliver findings and recommendations in a concise, digestible format.
Let’s take a closer look at data visualization in operations management.
Illustrating the Value
In 1973 Francis J. Anscombe published a paper titled, Graphs in Statistical Analysis, where he provided an illustration of the value of visualization of data.
Anscombe’s Quartet illustrates that data with identical statistical properties can be very different.
Visualization doesn’t provide the preciseness of statistics but does provide a unique method of viewing data while making it easier to discern.
Anscombe’s Quartet provides four distinct data sets that contain statistical properties that are essentially identical. Each dataset contained two values.
Illustrating the Danger
The calculated average (mean) of the two values is almost identical between datasets. This information in a tabular format leads to a false assumption of the commonality of the data.
However, when plotted the relationships present a radically different picture.
Anscombe’s Quartet illustrates the danger in assuming an understanding of data from only viewing summary statistics.
He clearly demonstrates the need to employ both tabular and graphical analysis to truly understand metrics.
NASA is an Example
NASA has recognized the ability of the human eyes and mind to rapidly discern variances in visualized data.
Even with some of the most advanced computers available, NASA relies on the human element of discovery.
Volunteers assist NASA in:
- The mapping of asteroids
- Identifying craters and terrain on Mars
- The discovery of new planetary systems
Employing Data Visualization
Are you effectively employing data visualization in the management of your operational areas?
The visualization of data for productivity, quality, unit cost and other operational metrics provides a faster and easier method of discovering patterns, exceptions and operational impacting trends.
The use and value of data visualization are among the skills and tools included in FTP’s Managing Operations Workshop.