05/02/2013 10:28 GMT | Updated 07/04/2013 06:12 BST

Why You Should Animate Your Data to Liberate It

One of the most common misconceptions in industry today is that data - and in particular, big data - on its own, is capable of driving business value. Look across any sector you care to mention, in any corner of the globe, and you'll find countless 'experts' telling you that their data is the secret ingredient they need to be able to cook up an incomparable feast of success and prosperity.

This argument, however, misses an important, if slightly pedantic point - namely the fact that data, in itself, is useless! Think about it. Rows of numbers, imprisoned in spreadsheets and tables, are about as likely to add discernable business value in themselves, as they are to solve crimes. It's just not going to happen!

Although this may at first seem to be a fairly obtuse exercise in semantics, the fact nonetheless remains that in order to make data useful, businesses must find a way to increase its effectiveness. The best way by far to achieve this is to liberate the data from its spreadsheet prison cell and animate it into use. Of course, you and I know this process of liberation better as finding the ability to 'interpret' data in ways that allow us to draw conclusions. In reality, it's the ability to use data to make decisions that holds the true key to understanding what it can offer.

So what exactly is data animation and how can it help businesses? Put simply, animating data is the process of taking these indecipherable-looking rows and columns of numbers and converting them into a way that makes them easy to interpret, such as graphs or charts. It's a fact that the human brain finds shapes and visual patterns far easier to process than it does raw data. By animating the information, businesses can actually allow conclusions to be drawn from it informed decisions can then be made off the back of it, at the speed of thought.

With this in mind, it's mystifying that there are still an increasingly large number of businesses that employ data scientists to wade through these rows of numbers, in order to interpret them. After all, if the key to unlocking the value of data is through enabling better interpretation, then surely storing it in a way that only somebody with an advanced qualification can understand can only be counter productive?

By animating data, businesses not only succeed in making information visually compelling, but also easy for everyone to understand, regardless of their background. In doing so, they might find that it's not just the data that is being liberated, but also themselves. The possibilities of opening it up to everyone that works there are endless.

Rather than being dependent on a highly qualified analyst to view data relevant to every single department, interpret it and share the findings, businesses are instead able to free the data. What this means is that they can make it available to every individual within every department, so that they can interpret it themselves.

Whatever way you look at it, the ability to make data useful has never been as important as it is today. With a mixture of information flowing from ERP systems, social networks and their own business processes, it's vital that organisations are able to interpret it if they are to spot inefficiencies and nip issues in the bud. The question is, how many businesses across the UK today are putting themselves in a position to do so by unshackling their data and allowing it to run free?