15 Statistics That Prove the Power of Data Visualization

by Mark Peterman

‘A picture tells a thousand words’ said Frederick R. Barnard in 1921.

Almost 100 years later Barnard’s statement has, if anything, become more true.

Today’s world is one of data. Thanks to the rise of computing and the internet we now generate more ‘information’ than we ever have before. What’s more, this information is relatively easy to record and analyze, allowing us to gain the sort of insights that would have seemed impossible just a few decades ago. Through utilities like business intelligence (BI) we are collecting and analyzing incredible amounts of information in order to move forward.

But such has been the change over the last few decades that our brains haven’t had time to catch up with the digital revolution. Analyzing mountains of zeroes and ones in the hope that we find something useful doesn’t exactly come naturally. So how do we bridge the gap between our bodies’ natural abilities and restraints, and the necessities of today’s data-driven world?

The answer, it seems, lies in data visualization.

Why will data visualizations help your organization? Here are 15 statistics that may help to shed some light.

The State of Our Brains

Our brains  value visuals over any other type of information.

  • 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual – (Source: MIT)
  • The human brain can process an image in just 13 milliseconds – (Source: MIT)
  • 50% of the brain is active in visual processing – (Source: Piktochart)
  • Human brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than they do text – (Source: University of Minnesota)
  • 93% of communication is nonverbal – (Source: Ubiquity)
  • We are exposed to 5x more information today than we were in 1986 – (Source: Telegraph)

The Effectiveness of Visualised Data

So with our brains so attuned to visuals, what does this mean for the transfer of information?

  • High quality infographics are 30x more likely to be read than plain text – (Source: Kissmetrics)
  • People who follow directions with illustrations do 323% better than those who follow text-only directions – (Source: Springer Link)
  • If a scientific claim is presented in pure words or numbers, 68% of people will believe that the information is accurate and truthful. But if you put a simple graph with the claim, the number rises to 97% (Source: Cornell university)
  • The Wharton School of Business found that while only half of an audience was convinced by a purely verbal presentation, that number jumped to over two thirds when visuals were added – (Source: American Management Association)

What This Means for Your Business

So visuals are both easier to understand and will provide a more compelling argument, but how does this translate into the world of business?

  • The same Wharton School of Business study found that the use of data visualizations could shorten business meeting by 24% – (Source: American Management Association)
  • Managers in organizations with visual data recovery tools are 28% more likely to find timely information than those who rely on managed reporting and dashboards – (Source: Tableau)
  • What’s more, 48% of these managers can find the data they need without the help of I.T. staff – (Source: Tableau)
  • Companies with the most advanced analytics capabilities are:
    • 2x more likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their industries
    • 2x more likely to use data very frequently when making decisions
    • 3x more likely to execute decisions as intended
    • 5x more likely to make decisions much faster than market peers
      (Source: Bain & Company)
  • A business intelligence with data visualization capabilities will offer an ROI of $13.01 back on every dollar spent – (Source: Nucleus Research)

In short, the human brain wasn’t designed to translate binary code or quickly digest written information. Data visualizations play to our brains’ strengths. They allow for more efficient transfer of information within your organization which will serve to make your business more efficient in general.

With data only getting more important for organizations into the coming years and decades, making sense of the zeroes and ones, and the information therein, may well prove to be the difference between the success and failure of a business. Utilizing an efficient, effective and capable business intelligence tool that offers data visualization capabilities is a non-negotiable for organizations looking to succeed into the future.

For more information on the power of data visualization, check out the following sources:

Infographic: The Power of Visual Content by Market Domination Media

Video: The Value of Data Visualisation by Column Five