In an information age, information plays a big role in keeping businesses competitive. The internet has made the world a much smaller place. You can access information at the click of your mouse. No longer is it necessary to travel to a land based store to seek out the answer to a question.
Information, in a broad sense, is basically processed, structured and organised information. It gives context to previously processed information and enables better decision making. For instance, a single customer’s sale at a particular restaurant is statistical information-this becomes available information when the company is able to pinpoint the most popular or least common dish. In short, information is key.
To maximise the potential of information as a business concept, organizations need to be able to understand the different meaning of data. As such, information visualization is becoming progressively more important in modern business. Information visualization uses visual tools (such as graphs, charts, histograms, pie charts, etc) to present data in a meaningful way to consumers. When understood well, information visualization can provide insights that are difficult to achieve with more traditional methods of data analysis.
For instance, one of the biggest challenges facing organisations today is information security. Given the huge volume of data being exchanged across networks every second, it’s not surprising that security is a major concern. An effective information security strategy is one that takes the whole information processing cycle into account. This means taking security as a process that begins by understanding the meaning of data and then proceeding to implement solutions that meet these needs. Information science has provided valuable inputs towards this approach. This is particularly relevant for companies involved in the supply chain, which face a significant data security challenge during production and distribution.
Another application for information visualization tools is in the area of understanding the meaning of change. Change can be very messy; there is no clear cut definition of when something was already finished. Organizations need to be able to monitor change as it happens. The best way to do this is through an information hierarchy. In an information hierarchy, levels of abstraction are introduced and from these, various types of information are presented to the viewer in order to give insight into the underlying meaning of the data.
Another example is in the area of time management. One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is how to measure the success of projects. Without a good idea of the true success of a project, an organization risks over-estimation of its value-at-cost. Information visualization tools can help here by giving an idea of how long it will take to deliver a certain product or service, allowing managers to better plan for this and control the resources required. In summary, we have discussed four ways in which this technology can be used in organizations today.