Moving from Big Data to Real Insight

Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, says that humankind produces in two days the same amount of data it took from the dawn of civilization until 2003 to generate.

Many organizations have generous amounts of data filling their databases, but few organizations make use of it. Data by itself is meaningless.


A majority of organizations believe that big data can give them a competitive advantage, but moving from data to insight is a major challenge.

Often, data is collected without considering how it will be turned into information. To turn data into information, we need a comparator.

Information, however, is also never useful in itself. To have meaning, it needs to  be placed in context and interpreted. It’s critical to ask why. Companies need to know why they are gathering data.

And finally, it is only through dialogue that the measures’ contrasts and contexts, the meanings and implications, can be understood. That’s the path to turn meaning into insights.

Data Visualization helps put data into context and bring business cases to life. In many cases, advanced visualization capabilities allow organizations to glean insights that would be impossible otherwise.

The kind of visualization that most organizations are moving toward is having dashboards of information where you can zoom in or zoom out—easily digestible to the business user. It’s more hindsight analysis, basically backward looking. Most organizations are getting that.

But now that we understand what happened or did not happen based on actions we took, we want to look into the future. That requires visualization that is much more dynamic.

Summing-up: There is no data without measurement, no information without data in comparison, no meaning without an understanding of information in context, and no insight without communicating shared meanings. Advanced data visualization plays a key role.

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