How Information Managers Can Explain Usage Data Through Visualizations

On its own, data is a series of facts and statistical information. Although data surrounds us, without context, it can be hard to draw any insights about what story the data is telling. Add visualization to that data, however, and it can be transformed into a clear, precise story with actionable insights.

Transforming data into more engaging, intuitive, and valuable information is growing in importance for information managers, as our need to convey progressively complex numbers and ideas increases.

Why visuals?

The power of data visualization lies in how we process information. Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University, summarized the importance of data visualization in a Nieman Reports article. In it, he explains that humans take on information in a visual way, meaning the more visual the information, the more useable, interactive, and accessible it becomes.

“The printed word is a human artifact,” Just said. “It’s very convenient and it’s worked very well for us for 5,000 years, but it’s an invention of human beings. By contrast Mother Nature has built into our brain our ability to see the visual world and interpret it. Even the spoken language is much more a given biologically than reading written language.”

Tell stakeholders an engaging story through visuals

In the current budget climate, information managers are balancing static or declining content budgets with rising content costs. This is a challenge as they must continue provide the high-quality content their organization relies on to remain competitive.

Creating a robust information center that’s backed by strategic data is not easy, but it can be a way to ensure the organization understands the value of the information center and the resources it provides to researchers.

The challenge begins with access. Data for subscribed content and document delivery is often located in disparate sources (think publisher platforms, document delivery platforms and internal systems.) Then, the task of normalizing that data and presenting it in a unified view takes time and effort.

Once that data is compiled, an Excel spreadsheet crammed with lines of numbers may be useful to information managers, but most stakeholders want their information quickly and to-the-point.

The more interesting and compelling usage data is, the easier it will be to share with stakeholders who, while keen to understand why decisions are made, are largely unfamiliar with the complexity and nuances of the data itself. Visualizations can allow for a clear, succinct, and targeted message.

Britt Mueller shares the importance of this, here:

“Having influential stakeholders who are willing to talk about the value and importance of content is an extremely valuable way to justify spending. These people are vouching for the need as outsiders of the actual information function, and that can lend credibility and insight into the actual use of the content.” 

The data-driven information manager

As more organizations recognize the benefits of data visualization – less time spent creating reports, greater collaboration, better customer interaction, and a greater competitive edge – the more insight and ROI they gain. Because when it comes to visualization, just like the data, the opportunities are endless.

With RightFind Business Intelligence, the content usage, spend, and value analytics module for RightFind, you can quickly and easily create data visualizations and presentations to let the data tell your content ROI story.


Author: Casey Pickering

Casey Pickering is a Product Marketing Manager in CCC’s Publisher Business Unit. Casey develops go-to-market strategies, conducts market research, creates customer personas, drives strategic marketing efforts, and develops product positioning to drive interest in our product offerings. A passionate Boston sports fan, Casey is a graduate of Northeastern University and enjoys spending time outside with her family including her Bernese Mountain Dog, Riggins.
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