Daily news from online research no. 34228


DATA VIZ FEATURE: A blend of art and science

November 22, 2022

Continuing our month-long focus on Data Viz and with tomorrow’s special issue, Infotools CEO and Co-Founder Ant Franklin says industry-leading data visualization involves a perfect blend of art and science, and explains how to achieve this balance.

Ant Franklin is the CEO and co-founder of Infotools, a collaborative investigation platform for market research data. Ant’s passion for market research dates back over 35 years and he is proud to have pioneered the use of innovative analysis and visualization tools in the market research industry, which are used by the analysis teams of the world’s leading brands. InfoTools was acquired by Ipsos a year ago.

Most intellectual activity falls into two broad categories: the subjective realm of art, rooted in beauty, aesthetics and emotion, or the objective realm of science, guided by assumptions, tests and data. Data visualization is a rare exception.

The best data visualizations manage to distill information, presenting it in a way that makes it easy to relate. It does this by straddling the two aforementioned disciplines: the rigorous scientific investigation of data to pursue a new understanding of the world, as well as an astute approach to uncovering the most important discoveries, which are then shared with others. It may not be easy, but it is precisely this mix that gives market research and news its intrigue and value.

Art and science can co-exist and complement each other, but this requires a careful and thoughtful approach. However, the temptation is to favor one element over another. We find a middle ground by using storytelling.

Storytelling makes science accessible

The Science Council defines science as the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic, evidence-based methodology. Art, on the other hand, leans more towards subjectivity, using various mediums to communicate ideas to stimulate thought and trigger emotions. Something really special happens when these two are intertwined.

As Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, said, “You’ll never kill storytelling, because it’s part of the human plan. We come with. The market research and insights industry has been talking about storytelling for decades. This is not about to change.

Storytelling enhances data visualization in some key ways for market researchers by helping us tell stories that resonate, simplify complex data, and illustrate to achieve deep audience understanding. As researchers, it is our job to illuminate by cutting through the mess, and the balance between art and science allows us to do this.

Data quality: it’s a matter of credibility

After a decade of orienting the world towards big data, towards what can be measured, we are seeing a sort of correction – a shift back towards visualization. In the midst of this recalibration, we need to realize that our data visualizations are only as good as the data they represent. We can get away with the most striking visuals for a while, but if those visualizations aren’t accurate or don’t reflect the evolution of the business, our credibility as insight professionals will be at stake. .

Trusted datasets are critical to this work in order to influence stakeholders or deliver desired value. This requires constant investment to improve the quality of our datasets, especially with the prevalence of fraudulent behavior in data collection. Once our data (science) is reliable and trustworthy, we can focus on visualization (art).

Beyond static visualizations: interactivity is the norm

Historically, the news industry relied on static visualizations in the form of crosstabs and PowerPoint presentations to communicate information. Fortunately, we are no longer limited by rudimentary systems that limit creativity or customization.

Today there are many software tools to make data attractive, but it takes more than pretty pictures to make visualizations meaningful. These software tools go beyond static representations of data, allowing employees to dig deeper into data, find more valuable insights, and experience more of those “aha” moments that market researchers crave.

Storytelling at its best is when someone finds the thread of a preview, starts tugging at it, and sees where it’s going. Rather than waiting for agencies or data processors to cross-check data, market research investigators can now do it themselves, on the fly, letting their curiosity run free and keeping their critical line. of fluid questioning.

Using the right technology, it’s easy to challenge the status quo, try something new with our visualizations, and see patterns in our data that were previously hidden. With beautiful, interactive and dynamic reports that are easy to understand, use, and remember, our insights are more likely to influence important decision-making and create real value.

Collaboratively define the narrative

To truly engage organizations in the analytics function, we need to engage others in the process and encourage new discoveries. Decision makers can be participants in shaping the story, taking the work we’ve done to the next level by feeding their experience into the process. We shouldn’t view this as a “loss of control” of the narrative, but as ensuring that we have the best possible information in the market.

This collaboration and teamwork, at a minimum, needs to happen within analytics teams, so multiple team members can work together, using their unique, individual approach to finding the stories in the data. It is important to note that each person has a different experience and perspective to create relevant insights that enlighten and influence.

Additionally, most people who need regular information reports as part of their job have to go through the tedious process of having someone else generate them, every time. Using interactive dashboard tools that allow others to find the stories in the data is just one way to create efficiencies and deepen the storytelling function to apply to expertise of each person.

Finding the balance between substance and style

Making data visualizations attractive, dynamic, and easy to use is an art form — the goal of which is to encapsulate ways to help business stakeholders with their decision-making. The best storytellers – and the best data visualizations – succeed in distilling information, presenting it in insightful ways, which makes it easier to connect.

With technology or science taking center stage in most discussions, it is important to remember some of the foundations of our industry: curiosity, compassion and understanding. The curiosity of the researcher is what uncovers the stories that the data tries to tell us; the platforms and technology just help facilitate this process.

Finding a balance between data science and the art of finding the best stories is essential. Without it, we’ll be left with all art and no substance, or all science and no flair. Either way, the magic is lost and an opportunity is missed. Natural creativity and curiosity, coupled with the speed and power of the latest solutions, give us opportunities we’ve never seen before. Human creativity permeates every aspect of our lives and has been responsible for the most powerful breakthroughs – and this is true in the visualization of market research data: a discipline rooted in both art and science.

All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas, unless otherwise noted.


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