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Why Data Visualisation matters?

Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 (revised date: Wednesday, 2 Apr 2014)
Sayara Beg
06/19 2013

Spotfire’s Michael O’Connell: Why Data Visualization Matters

Michael O’Connell, Spotfire’s chief data scientist, really digs data visualization. So much so that he wrote a book about it. Since this is a hot topic in data analytics today, we want to give you a look inside the value of data visualization from O’Connell’s point of view.

michale Spotfires Michael OConnell: Why Data Visualization Matters 1. Why do you think visuals explain data better? What is the business benefit?

O’Connell: Graphics force people across the business to see what they never expected to see. Information visuals, combined with descriptive and predictive analytics, highlight the unknown unknowns in data in a way that can radically affect business practices.

See how O’Connell defines big data in this short video clip. Takeaway: visualization helps harness data that “is difficult to analyze in memory.”

2. How does the visual element of data affect decisions?

As insights emerge, game-changing decisions can be made. Summaries of KPIs enable rapid understanding of business performance. Push exception graphics highlight risks, underperforming and over-performing areas in the business to guide business decisions.

See how O’Connell defines a data scientist and her ability to “see” both the business and analytics value of data in this short video clip.

3. How do life sciences and healthcare organizations differ in their data visualization needs in comparison to other organizations?

Pharma companies are heavy users of exploratory and reporting graphics across all functional areas – in discovery research, clinical development and sales and marketing. Exploratory and reporting graphics are quite different.

Exploratory graphics are highly interactive, including brushing, marking, drill-down, drill-up, drill-sideways; they enable the underlying information to emerge and the stories behind the data to be told in ways that guide knowledge discovery.

Report graphics enable the information being communicated to jump out of the paper, publication or presentation. Report graphics communicate the salient information in a succinct and comprehensive way, summarizing the science and business direction.

4. What’s the biggest lesson readers can gain from your book?

Readers can learn best practices in the use of exploratory and reporting graphics across many scientific and business disciplines: from discovery through translation medicine; from clinical development through post-marketing and epidemiology; from operations through sales and marketing; across healthcare applications including pain/neurology, cardiology, pulmonology and other therapeutic areas.

They can see how different graphics may be effectively used to extract information from data and turn this into knowledge to drive action in science and business.

They can see what they never expected to see.

Next Steps:

  • Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest insights and trends in data visualization.
  • Read a recent Forbes interview with Michael O’Connell for an extended version of “What is a Data Scientist?”
  • Check out O’Connell’s “graphics cookbook” – “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Tables: Graphics in Life Sciences.”

Amanda Brandon Spotfire Blogging Team

- See more at:

Or join us at the Spring Networking event to meet Michael and his team.


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