Friday, November 10, 2006

Beauty of Data

In quite a few of my postings over the last months I have talked about the importance of developing a practice of “Data Visualization” within marketing organizations, most likely within the research or analytical division. Why? Because analytics will always remain in the dark and easily forgotten corner of marketing discussions, if it doesn’t get better on visualizing its findings and communicating an interesting story to everyone within a marketing organizations, not just to the Data Geeks.

Just last week I stumbled on Ben Fry’s amazing visualizations of several data challenges www.benfry.com. They demonstrate that visualizations are not just necessary to enable simpler and more focused data interpretation but that they can create beautiful objects, too. Ben Fry’s visual results transform data projects into fascinating art objects.

The fusion of data analytics with design centric minded individuals will be a main driver to build one of the most powerful new marketing disciplines for the next 20-30 years: Data Democratization. As mentioned in earlier postings, the Democratization of Data will enable more and more individuals to enjoy and benefit from the data analytical work of marketing analysts. It will focus first on marketers but it will expand into any business function of successful companies. Today the Democratization of Data is at its early infancy but its development and expansion might parallel the democratization of design over the last 50 years.

One can probably trace the democratization of design into some fundament shifts that occurred over the last 50 years. These shifts will have its parallel in the Data Democratization discipline. Let me try to stress three of the many fundamentals that democratized design:
  • Decreasing costs - High quality design is getting more and more affordable for everyone, it is not just for exclusive elite members anymore
  • Marriage of Function and Beauty - The long debated tension of Functionality and Beauty within the design discipline is now universally perceived as a positive creative force not an ideological decision
  • Accessibility - Nowadays design expands into more and more elements of our daily life sphere, and doesn’t remain in the circle of just a few highly “designed” items that might end up in the museum

If the energy, the level of innovation and the far reaching consequences of design (please check out the current exhibition “Massive Change” by Bruce Nau in Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, www.brucemaudesign.com/news) will be any indicator for the changes that Data Democratization will bring, then it will be a fun 20-30 years of contributing and observing this new marketing discipline, Data Democratization. And the uncovered beauty of data will be in the center of it.

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