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What is Data Visualization Software?

Definition of Data Visualization Software

Data visualization software, sometimes called data viz, displays or represents data and information visually or graphically, using such things as graphs, maps, statistics and charts. Infographics and dashboards are popular kinds of data visualizations. Data viz is an important part of Business Intelligence (BI). BI, a cutting edge, multi-billion dollar business, provides enterprises with valuable insights such as current views, historical views, and predictive views of their business performance.

Many years ago, the most sophisticated data viz was a small pie chart on a scientific paper, but today many areas of our lives are improved by this data-extraction technology. 

Data Visualization Software Features

An effective data viz tool will provide plenty of robust features. This ordered list displays some of the most common features that we found in our related research on data visualization platforms:

  1. CSV File Support: Accepts comma-separated values (.csv) files.
  1. Dashboard Creation: Allows creation of a dashboard, a graphical summary or overview of important info.
  1. TXT File Support: Accepts text (.txt) files, such as text files relating to creating charts and dashboards.
  1. Add or Export Image Support: Allows adding an image on charts or dashboards, and exporting the chart or dashboard as an image, in any file type.
  1. Web App: Application software that can be used on the Web and runs on a web server. In contrast to computer-based software which is run locally from the operating system of the desktop or laptop.
  1. PDF File Support: Accepts Portable Document Format (.pdf) files.
  1. XLSX File Support: Accepts Microsoft Excel spreadsheet files that are zipped (compressed).
  1. JSON File Support: Accepts JavaScript Object Notation files. 
  1. Desktop App: A software program that runs locally on a stand-alone laptop or desktop computer (as opposed to a web application that comes from a remote web server).
  1. HTML File Support: Accepts HTML files on the dashboard or on charts. Also allows HTML changes.
  1. Dynamic / Ongoing Data Connection: A stream of data that is set up once and then continually delivers data on an ongoing basis, either in real time or at certain intervals. The data is ingested and displayed as it comes in.

To discover even more great features and see how each data visualization solution compares against the others, check out our research publication Data Visualization Tool Comparison.

Who Uses Data Visualization Software?

One particular data viz article answers that question: All of us use them (data visualizations), whether or not we realize it. If you use apps on your smartphone, for example, chances are that you depend on data visualizations to make critical decisions on an almost daily basis. Do you ever use a weather app to determine how to dress for that day? If you open the app and see a cloud with lightning at the top of the app, you have a good idea that it’s going to be a stormy, rainy day without having to read any data about temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity.

Here, at Doakio, we use a data viz tool, Google Data Studio, to create our interactive scatter-plot chart that displays the results of our comprehensive research for Data Visualization Tool Comparison:

And so we see that individuals and businesses both utilize data visualization software. With technological advances, data viz has become mainstream. Some have stated “When artificial intelligence (AI) progresses, we’ll simply ask a computer for any info we want, so there will be no need to analyse graphical displays of data.” Data viz may well become less needed in the future, when AI can find patterns and outliers in a dataset faster than people, but this level of automation is likely a long way off.

Top Data Visualization Software

The best tools offer: a variety of visualization styles, are easy to use, and can handle large data sets.

Here, at Doakio, we’ve come up with a data-driven, ordered list of the best data viz tools. Since good support is very important for these tools, our list only includes data viz tools with a public-facing (no login needed) knowledge base:

  1. Qlikview
  2. GoodData
  3. Tableau
  4. Infogram
  5. Amazon QuickSight
  6. Oracle BI
  7. Sisense
  8. Domo
  9. Datawrapper
  10. Zoho Analytics
  11. IBM Cognos Analytics
  12. Plotly
  13. Knowi

If you are looking for a data viz tool that fits your needs, our free custom report will help! Simply complete our custom data visualization tools survey that allows you to input your own importance rating for each feature.

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