Players and Pitfalls for Data Visualization

Target, Nike, Bayer, and the CDC. What do all of these different organizations and businesses have in common? All of them rely on data visualizations to display key information for stakeholders such as projected growth models, growing trends within departments, and platform traffic. Since organizations range widely in employees, customers, and revenue, different companies call for distinctive types of needs from software and data visualization tools.

As many industries and fields of research continue to grow and need to utilize data, more players are coming to the table to provide data visualization tools. Some of the more prominent companies within this sector include technology juggernauts like Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce. There is Google Data Studio, Microsoft Power BI, and Salesforce’s Tableau. Some less prominent data visualization tools that are not backed by the well-known technology companies include Sisense, Alteryx, FineReports, and more coming into the picture every day. Different data visualization tools will provide different capabilities, efficiencies, and benefits. Whether you are a beginner business owner or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, there is a data visualization tool available for everyone and anyone.

With a variety of data visualization options available, small companies, enterprise-level corporations, and everything in between will be able to benefit. Going from highest to lowest, Tableau has become a prominent name for data analytics and visualization. Enterprises like Lenovo, Pfizer, and Cisco have multiple campuses across the globe that rely on Tableau’s powerhouse capabilities for companies with thousands of employees. Tableau can support a variety of data sources from Microsoft Excel, JSON files, and Google Analytics. For enterprise-level companies, being fast is critical, making Tableau’s speed a very notable trait along with the advanced capabilities. Pricing for Tableau is on the higher end of the spectrum starting at $50+ for individual users on a monthly subscription. At the same time, Tableau does offer a free solution for data visualization called Tableau Public. One important caveat with Tableau Public is that the data becomes public via their Tableau Gallery. For those who want to check out Tableau without committing to a subscription, Tableau Public is a solid option for smaller businesses, teachers, and students.  

Since the paid version of Tableau is such a feature-rich data visualization tool geared toward enterprise-level clients, pricing is on the higher end of the spectrum compared to other options like Microsoft Power BI. Smaller companies that might not be near the enterprise level will find Microsoft Power BI to be a well-suited option. Many workplace environments already use Microsoft Office for creating spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. Microsoft Power BI is a wonderful choice for adoption as a company can connect Power BI to existing Microsoft applications along with Salesforce, Google Analytics, and email marketing tools. Pricing for Microsoft Power BI will also be much more manageable since individual user options start at $10 a month. While more suitable for smaller companies or corporations, Power BI does have some high-profile enterprise-level users as well. Adobe, GE, and Nestle are notable users of the data visualization tool created by Microsoft. 

Data visualization may seem like an out of reach idea for those who are not as knowledgeable of new technologies. The good news is that data visualization is not out of reach. Someone who wants to learn how to use data visualization tools does not have to spend money or make their information public as with Tableau Public. The same company that gives us the ability to search for information around the world with their infamous search engine makes a data visualization tool for the masses with Google accounts for free.  Since Google Data Studio is complimentary, the software capabilities are limited compared to subscription-based services like Tableau or Power BI. Someone starting with data visualization may find interest in using a tool like Google Data Studio. There are no upfront costs for setting up Google Data Studio aside from having a Google account. Data sources can include Google Sheets, YouTube Channel, AdWords, and many other Google-related services. While Google Data Studio may be a slight inconvenience for users that keep data sources outside of Google’s products and services, transferring data from those sources into a Google service is possible (Excel to Sheets, for example). Data Studio is also capable of connecting to MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. Another reason that Google Data Studio is a viable option for smaller organizations or beginners is the number of tutorials Google offers for free. YouTube allows for nearly anyone to jump into the world of data analytics and visualization.   

Some less prominent data visualization tools include Sisense, FineReport, Chartio, Alteryx, and more, with new options becoming available for use every day. The range of data visualization can vary greatly depending on several factors: capabilities, speeds, and integration options. A premium-priced Tableau is going to be able to process large amounts of datasets from multiple data sources compared to a free option like Google Data Studio that can extract data from very particular sources. Capabilities such as speed, ease of use, and integrated functionality are factors that can affect pricing for data visualization software. Fortunately, given the range of options available for data visualization, getting started has never been easier. Between free options like Google Data Studio and Tableau Public, data visualization tools are available for anyone willing to learn. In contrast, small to big companies that need to keep their data private will find solace in paying a subscription fee for Tableau or Microsoft Power BI to secure their information and process data sources from various applications. 

Social media analytics, revenue reports, e-commerce traffic, lead generation, and so on are all aspects of running a modern-day business that makes data visualization increasingly important for many companies every day. Seeing data allows for increased influence, outreach, and opportunities for additional revenue. Data visualization enables organizations to provide stakeholders at all levels to see strengths and weaknesses. Being able to see this data at any given point makes data visualization an asset in the information age.

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