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Data Visualization vs. Traditional Reporting

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Big Data" is a popular term that's thrown around in today's corporate world. With so much data available, it's becoming increasingly difficult to effectively digest or interpret that data, in order to make any business decisions. To assist in making sense out of these mountains of data, Data Visualization tools such as Tableau, Domo, and Power BI are now available. These tools are relatively easy to use, and can produce some stunning visualizations, which allow the user to see data in surprising ways.  

For many, once they get a taste of these tools, they are tempted to ditch their existing reporting tools such as Crystal Reports, SQL Server Reporting Services, or even Excel based reporting, and to run everything through their shiny new Data Visualization tool. However, these tools are not (and were never meant to be) used for traditional reporting.

Data Visualization tools came about in the first place, because the graphical capabilities of reporting tools left a lot to be desired. The reporting element of these tools does a great job of grouping and parsing summary data, but when it comes to the quality of graphics, it is akin to looking at an Atari game when you're used to an XBox 360.

Conversely, you can create and display summary tables, pivoted data, etc. in most of the Data Visualization tools, but it's not going to have the professional look that you're probably used to seeing with a dedicated reporting tool.

There is still very much a place today for traditional reporting tools. Data Visualization tools do a fantastic job of making sense out of a lot of data, but they should be used as a reporting supplement, not a replacement for traditional reporting.

 In the end, resist the temptation!


Michael Tucker

Written by Michael Tucker

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