The human eye and brain are an amazing data gathering tool, the eye transmits information at the rate of 10 million bits per second to the brain, comparable to an Ethernet connection. It is for this reason that data visualizations can be a powerful tool to inform about data insights. As good visualizations inform observers about relations between massive amounts of data but also poor visualizations can lead to catastrophic enterprise failures.

One of the founding fathers of the discipline of information design, Edward Tufte isolated poorly designed power point slides, that hid key engineering information, as one of the key data visualization failures that lead to the NASA Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003. The reasons some data visualization fail are mostly  two, one is the inability of the data analyst to design effective information dense graphics, second is the human inability to handle too much visual complexity. The density of today’s enterprise Big-data are both quantity and complexity, that is today’s organizations collect massive numbers from vastly disparate sources.

Due to the limitations of unassisted data visualization, the emerging trend in the space is Virtual Reality (VR)  and AI assistance. Even that day is not too far when we will feel our data through haptic-feedback, and analyze on the basis of our sensory understanding. Until such time, the limits of data visualization borne by humans could perhaps be overcome with increasingly sophisticated AI tools which can empower humans to make the end decisions necessary for strategic growth.

Blind Sided: Limitation of Data Visualization