Joshua Tapley works at Comcast on various projects and excels in utilizing Data Visualization. We interviewed him on the macro and micro presence of this tool.
Hi Professor Josh. Thank you for your time. We would want to kick start by understanding why Data Visualization is so important these days?
As an adjunct professor, I tell my students that while Data Visualization is currently an industry buzz term, it won’t be long before it becomes the new business standard.
We already see data visualization incorporated into every aspect of modern life: in smartwatches, sports statistics and video games. It is helping businesses in collecting more and more data as they leverage advanced analytics, augmented intelligence and machine learning to gain a competitive advantage. With all of that data, it is becoming even more necessary to use techniques such as Data Visualization to convey large volumes of information more quickly and efficiently.
Can you give us a glimpse of how you use the tool in your work?
Sure. In today’s society, information travels at a much faster rate. In an endless sea of emails and texts, a good visualization needs to not only inform us but also grab our attention. At Comcast, I see Data Visualization being used by numerous departments. Beyond common use cases such as product performance reporting and financial tracking, we see maps being created for tracking attendance at volunteer events and visualizations of data centers to indicate where there is free space on the network racks.
Can you also give us examples of a few industries using Data Visualization?
1. Every industry I know of is utilizing data visualization in some way. Here are a few examples:
The Seattle Police Department tracks crime statistics, https://www.seattle.gov/police/information-and-data/crime-dashboard
2. The Department of the Interior explores the size of every building it controls and, https://www.tableau.com/solutions/gallery/us-department-interior-building-footprint
3. FiveThirtyEight tracks everything from sports, politics to entertainment such as Adam Sandler movies.
What are the challenges one faces when using Data Visualization?
Visualizing Data can itself be very challenging. Good storytelling and real-time showcasing results are different categories of Data Visualization. In the latter instance, we usually have to make sure that the data can speak for itself because we don’t always have an opportunity to add commentary.
However, no matter what industry one is in, Data Visualization can help one stand apart from his or her peers by telling an engaging story with data. It is not an art form but rather an establishment of a good set of guidelines and practice.
If you are interested in healthcare, Fox adjunct professor and Tableau Zen Master, Lindsay Betzendahl runs a monthly initiative called #projecthealthviz. If you are looking to work with other types of data, the #MakeoverMonday initiative posts a new data set each week.