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TDWI Research Report Reveals Benefits, Barriers, and Strategies for Optimizing Data Visualizations and Data Discovery

TDWI report examines how organizations can use data visualization, visual analytics, and data discovery to improve decision making, collaboration, and operational execution

SEATTLE, WA, July 1, 2013—TDWI Research announced the release of its newest Best Practices Report, Data Visualization and Discovery for Better Business Decisions. This original, survey-based research focuses on how organizations can best use data visualization, visual analytics, and data discovery to enhance decision making, expand collaboration, and improve operational execution.

“Reports and scorecards aren’t eye candy. Data visualization is critical to fulfilling widely held goals for expanding an organization’s analytics culture and driving smarter decisions with data, not hunches,” said David Stodder, author of the report. “Not every business intelligence user is a data scientist. It’s important to apply the best practices we’ve learned to today’s tools and technologies to make the best use of data and reduce an organization’s time to insight,” Stodder explains. 

Data visualization can contribute significantly to the interpretation and sharing of insight from analytics so that even nontechnical subject matter experts can perform self-directed data discovery.

As this report points out, organizations should examine how they match visualization technologies and practices to user requirements. A key element of this strategy is data interaction—users need broad capabilities for manipulating data, from drill-down features to slice-and-dice functionality.

New technologies, such as the availability of geospatial information, are also making an impact. “Although using maps to enhance corporate data (and vice versa) is not yet widespread, organizations in a growing number of industries are interested in geospatial analysis in addition to their visualization repertoire,” according to the report. Visual representations are also growing; witness the increasing popularity of infographics, for example.

Operational efficiency is the top benefit organizations seek from data visualization, according to the report. Stodder notes that “organizations seek to implement data visualization and discovery to reduce the time users lose when they have difficulty accessing, reporting, and analyzing data.”

Data visualization technologies are popular—88% of those surveyed have implemented or intend to implement display, snapshot reporting, and/or scorecards, and 78% have or will implement visual data discovery and analysis.

About the Report:

This report is designed to accelerate users’ understanding of how organizations can make effective use of data visualization technologies and gain a single version of the truth. The report includes real-world use cases to demonstrate how organizations are enjoying the benefits of visual discovery, from rapidly growing their business to improving insights and enhancing collaboration.

Report Highlights:

  • Use: Data visualization is a vital centerpiece of an organization’s performance management. According to survey analysis, organizations use data visualizations to define and measure key performance indicators and for monitoring activities and receiving alerts.
  • Developers: In nearly two-thirds of organizations, IT personnel develop and deploy charts, graphs, maps, and other visualizations for users. Just over half (54%) of respondents said business analysts are the second most prevalent developers.
  • Data sources: BI reporting and OLAP cubes, spreadsheets, and analytic databases are the most important data sources for visual analysis and data discovery. The physical location of data access for users’ visual analysis and discovery is on a database or file on disk, according to 76% of respondents.
  • Dashboards: TDWI Research finds that dashboards are not as ubiquitous as they might seem. Only half of survey respondents said that one-quarter or less of users in their organizations implement dashboards.
  • Barriers: The greatest perceived barrier centers on whether employees have adequate knowledge and skills to make effective use of visualization and discovery tools.

This research was sponsored by Adaptive Planning, ADVIZOR Solutions, Esri, Pentaho, SAS, and Tableau Software.

About the Author

David Stodder is director of TDWI Research for business intelligence. He focuses on providing research-based insight and best practices for organizations implementing BI, analytics, performance management, data discovery, data visualization, and related technologies and methods. He is the author of TDWI Best Practices Reports on mobile BI, customer analytics in the age of social media, and BI/DW agility, as well as TDWI Checklist Reports on data discovery and information management. He has chaired TDWI conferences on BI and big data analytics. Stodder has provided thought leadership on BI, information management, and IT management for over two decades. He has served as vice president and research director with Ventana Research and was founding chief editor of Intelligent Enterprise, where he served as editorial director for nine years. You can reach him at, on Twitter @dbstodder, and on LinkedIn at

About TDWI

TDWI, a division of 1105 Media, Inc., is the premier provider of in-depth, high-quality education and research in the business intelligence and data warehousing industry. TDWI is dedicated to educating business and information technology professionals about the best practices, strategies, techniques, and tools required to successfully design, build, maintain, and enhance business intelligence and data warehousing solutions. TDWI also fosters the advancement of business intelligence and data warehousing research and contributes to knowledge transfer and the professional development of its members. TDWI offers a worldwide membership program, five major educational conferences, topical educational seminars, role-based training, on-site courses, certification, solution provider partnerships, an awards program for best practices, live Webinars, resourceful publications, and an in-depth research program. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @TDWI.

About 1105 Media

1105 Media, Inc., is a leading provider of integrated information and media in targeted business-to-business markets, including specialized sectors of the information technology community; industrial health, safety, and compliance; security; environmental protection; and home healthcare. 1105's offerings span print and online magazines, journals, and newsletters; seminars, conferences, and trade shows; training courseware; and Web-based services. 1105 Media is based in Chatsworth, CA, with offices throughout the United States.