As we've noted before, people think in pictures, not Excel spread sheets. The human brain doesn’t react well to seeing millions of lines and rows of data.

And in the age of big data and analytics, where gleaning and reacting to insights faster than the competition can make the difference between winning a market or perishing, avoiding disasters or falling prey — and even saving lives or losing them.

It’s no wonder companies in the data visualization business are booming. Take, for example, Tableau. In just one quarter, the market leader landed 120 deals in excess of $100,000 and added 1,800 new customers. The company also reported that it has exceeded more than 1,000 cumulative customer accounts using Tableau Online for analytics in the cloud.

Redefining 'Moving Pictures'

There’s little doubt that people prefer to see their data in pictures.

Today, those pictures need not be stagnant. Company big shots can look at boardroom presentations and ask “What would happen if…” and, with a point and the click of a mouse, get a data-informed answer.

Data-driven stories tell themselves and serve as catalysts allowing for dynamic data-driven stories and real data-driven conversations.

But it’s not just the suits that are privy to big data insights. They’re equally accessible to front line workers as well. And data sets are readily available and not hard to find at your company, from within your industry, and even places like the City of New York, data.gov, the World Bank and even the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Speaking of FIFA, Tableau has grabbed its World Cup data and created an interactive visualization for you.

As you play with it, you can ask questions. “What is the relationship between red cards and shots on goal?" "How has that changed in the last ten years?" "Does Italy get more yellow cards than Mexico?" "How does the US compare to other countries when it comes to fouls per game and points per game?"

To use it (and bear with it if it takes time to load, remember you would be spending hours, if not days using Excel to get these answers):

  • Use the drop down menus to investigate various statistics about each team
  • Select a different country by clicking on its flag

The default view is USA’s performance in all tournaments—selecting different bars will filter the view to look at one year of the World Cup.

Title image by Jefferson Bernardes / Shutterstock.