Data visualization is an established means of quickly illustrating trends and patterns that can be easily grasped by non-technical users and lead them to insights that allow them to operate more effectively as a result. In a recent Computerworld article, Bob Violino outlined tips for deriving maximum value from data visualization implementations, among them:

Keep it Simple

Gartner analyst Daren Brabham told Violino, “Err on the side of simplicity and elegance when building data visualizations. There are limitations regarding what the human brain can process efficiently when it comes to visual information, so keep visuals clean and easy to digest quickly.” This is a particularly important consideration when building dashboards for executives or other stakeholders who demand efficient, actionable insights.

Consider the Audience

With data-driven decision making becoming more common across departments and functions, managers must first understand who will be using the visualizations and then customize the dashboards to meet their needs. If a particular report is designed with the end user in mind from the start, it’s much easier for them to drill into specific details as needed and, ultimately, derive useful information faster.

Prioritize Collaboration

Violino writes, “Collaboration among stakeholders is pivotal for success with data visualization…If a team has leveraged certain data sets or chosen certain visualizations over others, it needs to document everything and explain it in detail to others.” This enables the organization to avoid many typical data bottlenecks and ensure a stronger analytics program overall.

Provide Proper Training

It’s increasingly common for analytics and business intelligence platforms to facilitate intuitive data access for non-technical stakeholders. Nevertheless, companies can’t overlook the importance of proper training when it comes to data visualization. A chart or graph is only as good as the data that feeds it, and it’s important that organizations emphasize both data quality and data literacy in their training programs.

Leverage Visualizations to Tell Stories

According to Violino, “As a company’s data visualization skills increase, it should strive to weave together visualizations into a coherent data storytelling pursuit.” This could entail a complex series of visualizations in a report that tell a story about how and why certain things are happening in the business, or just a single, interactive visualization that provides a narrative about a particular topic. But by approaching visualizations with the ultimate goal of storytelling, companies can obtain a better understanding of how they can harness data to improve business outcomes.

Head over to Computerworld for more tips on maximizing your data visualization investments.