'Gut feelings' often trump real data in driving business decisions, says Forrester

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There’s an alarming gap in data activation at organizations today, and despite continued investment in people, data and technology, typically many business decisions are made by applying “gut feeling” or opinion rather than using data, according to Forrester Research.

In 2019, data visualization will continue to increase its role in data storytelling, a discipline that helps organizations bridge the divide between data, insights, and actions to improve business outcomes, said Cinny Little, senior analyst at Forrester.

“Data visualization is now a capability of all leading business intelligence, analytics, and insights platforms and applications,” Little said. “Across multiple technology categories, vendors’ focus in 2019 will continue on self-service capabilities that remove barriers for non-technical business and operations decision makers, enabling them to act on visualizations more quickly with less or no help from data professionals or IT.”

A good practice for organizations looking to deploy and use data visualization is to “align before you design,” Little said. “A visualization is only as valuable as its tight alignment to what business stakeholders need to know to make decisions and take actions that improve business outcomes,” she said.

Also, know when to abandon data components that are not needed. “The final stage of preparing an effective visualization or other data story inevitably requires cutting and streamlining elements—from data to charts—that aren’t tightly aligned to the story’s purpose for acting to improve business outcomes,” Little said.

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