Advances in technology have ensured that we deal with astronomical amounts of data in every walk of life, especially in our workplace. With an increase in the amount of input, a need has arisen to radically modify the means with which we visualize this data in order to improve the quality of our analysis. Therefore, in the present day context, Data Visualization has gained great importance. It brings patterns, trends and exceptions to light. It leverages human visual systems highly tuned ability to see patterns, spot trends and identify outliers. It replaces cognitive calculations with simple perceptual inferences, improves comprehension, memory, and decision-making. It also engages more diverse audience in exploration and analysis. As such, there is tremendous scope for the nascent market of Data Visualization.
The market comprises business intelligence vendors and specialized visualization vendors. Business intelligence vendors such as Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAS, etc. integrate basic charting visualization functionality into their query and analysis, scorecard, and dashboard applications. They provide basic charting and dashboard functionality as well as some level of interactive visualization. On the other hand, specialized visualization vendors such as Advanced Visual Systems, SGI, and Advizor Solutions extend the range of basic charting and scorecards with leading advanced visualization applications.
The Data Visualization market is growing rapidly with many of the large IT companies jumping in. While large companies such as SAP and IBM have only 5% of their current revenues from data visualization solutions, smaller companies such as Dundas, QlikTech, Lyzasoft, and SiSense have a majority of their revenues from data visualization. Clearly, it is a growing market with immense potential.
A number of free as well as premium tools are available in the market. Some of these include Gliffy, Graphviz, FlyCharts, Degrafa, Chronoscope, Omnigraffle, Microsoft Visio, Palo, etc. Moreover, there is room for Business Intelligence vendors as well as specialized visualization vendors. Business intelligence vendors such as Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAS provide basic charting and dashboard functionality as well as some level of interactive visualization, while specialized vendors such as Advanced Visual Systems, SGI, and Advizor Solutions extend the range of basic charting and scorecards with leading advanced visualization applications.
Nowadays, the trend is towards creating greater visualization empowerment to the Customer/end user through availability of data in formats with greater levels of interactivity. Customer has always been the King, but now the vendors have to grapple with a Customer who is not interested in clearly spelling out what he wants in terms of data visualization. Vendors have to be creative now. They have to understand the Customer’s background and requirements to create a solution that the Customer will appreciate. Customers look at novel interactive visualization formats, appreciate them, and jump to how they can be made more appealing, both visually and intellectually. In a sense, data visualization has become an evolving art. In short ‘Customer is King, but he does not know what he wants (and that is OK), and he wants it now!’
Another trend that can be observed is the tendency to move away from integrated platforms or solutions, but to look for specific solutions that meet the end data visualization objectives. Smaller vendors with customized solutions score over larger established players. So, ‘Platform is irrelevant, the achievement of visualization objectives is what counts most.’
Finally, intuitiveness and ‘feel’ of data is more important than accuracy and specificity. For CXO level decision making, the speed of availability of information is far more important than the accuracy of information.