The Art of Data Visualization | MicroStrategy
Data Visualization

The Art of Data Visualization

At MicroStrategy, our goal is to achieve a fully integrated data-driven culture, both for our clients and our own workplace. We know that not every employee’s role or perspective is technical, but a truly data-driven environment gets even the most right-brained among us excited about data and all the forms it can take. In the spirit of this mission, we challenged all of our employees to submit their most visually interesting dossiers to MicroStrategy’s first internal Dossier Contest.

Nilesh Kulkarni, Director of Artificial Intelligence at NIO, summarizes the blending of art and science with data analytics in this way: “Like any other art, analytics does require the intangible and somewhat unexplainable factor of intuition to make it successful. The subjectivity of analytics comes through intuition, inquisitiveness, creativity, and the imagination of the people involved—not just through hard numbers and facts.”

Constellation Research founder and Disrupting Digital Business author Ray Wang has long talked about the importance of collaboration between right- and left-brain talent. In his eBook The Role of Data in Digital Transformation, Wang notes, “when it comes to digital transformation initiatives, we need ‘digital artisans.’ Digital artisans are there to take an organization’s data and analytics and humanize it, so that it’s easily consumable for everyone.”

“Think about visualizations,” he says. “Choosing the best one to communicate lots of data and insights to the most people so that everyone understands it (and can act on it) is so important. When we’re trying to innovate, we need people who can think outside of the box in a diversity of disciplines.”

Echoing this sentiment, MicroStrategy’s internal Dossier Contest garnered inventive submissions from all departments. Vijay Anand, Vice President of Product Marketing, and Emily Shorter, Director of Product Marketing reviewed the entries, ultimately selecting 15 finalists. These dossiers, analyzing wide-ranging subjects from World Cup statistics to New York City transportation, contained both sharp analytical insights and compelling visualizations.

The dossiers were then delivered to MicroStrategy’s in-house graphic design team, who rendered their artistic interpretations of the visualizations. “I saw the contest as a way to use pre-defined shapes as a starting point for an abstract interpretation of what was already created,” said graphic designer Steven Eson. The exercise also helped highlight the meaning our visualizations bring to data, and how they help users “gain a greater understanding of complex ideas,” said designer John Hill. Here is the Overall Winner’s Dossier on Citi Bike, New York’s bike share system:

And the graphic designer’s creative interpretation:

The art will be displayed in MicroStrategy offices worldwide to showcase the powerful relationship between technology and design (and right- and left-brain talent) in data-driven organizations. Explore the contest winners, their dossiers, and the inspired artwork below:

To learn more about the importance of a data-driven culture and digital artisans, download the Q&A interview with Constellation Research principal analyst and founder Ray Wang.

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