Utilizing visualization technologies for strategic business applications
Vision of Intelligence
by Dan Sullivan (published on May 28, 2002)
= worth knowing
Dan Sullivan outlines different purposes of visualization in strategic business applications and gives an overview of traditional and innovative visualization techniques. He also provides application examples and links to selected vendors of visualization tools.
One purpose of visualization is to facilitate the interpretation and evaluation of numeric measures. Sullivan compares the use of visual path analysis and bar charts to visualize Web site traffic:
Modeling movement through a Web site by using a map of pages and links is a better visual metaphor than presenting a bar chart displaying a number of page views. The map of pages and links provides cues about the context of the measure instead of just the measure itself, as is the case with bar charts. This context in turn provides more information, such as where page hits originated, captured in a single visual metaphor.
(See Robin Good’s review of ClickTracks to learn more about the visualization of users’ click preferences on a Web site.)
Not just simple numerical data can be visualized, but also the relation of contents in an information space. This kind of visualization can support a more effective navigation through information spaces. Sullivan describes an interesting application example of Plumb Design's ThinkMap:
The Sony Music licensing Web site, for example, uses ThinkMap Server from Plumb Design Inc. to display the results of keyword searches by artist, track, and subject. Results are displayed in a 2D map showing related topics as well as those specified in the search query.
For example, because songs are categorized with multiple keyword labels, a user could navigate from songs categorized as "Ecology" and "Political Classics" to those categorized as "Political Classics" and "Protest" and then to some indexed as "Protest" and "Crime."
Sullivan’s article might wake your interest in doing more research, particularly on techniques to visualize the relation of contents. Some starting points for additional research and more visual examples for the techniques described would have been useful.
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