Interactive charts are reinventing visual data

Interactive charts have revolutionized the way visual data is displayed. Think back to elementary school geography class, sitting drowsily in your desk as the teacher pulls down her roll-up world maps and charts to review the 50 states and their capitals. Visual improvements have been made over the past few years to improve those maps and charts. Most maps and charts now are divided into topographical, population, climate, economic resources, physical, political, and road maps, color coded for the viewer’s convenience. There are probably even more, but that has been the extent of interactive charts for several years.

But imagine combining all of those maps and charts into one report, and all a user has to do is drag the mouse over a state or a country and all of the information you would have to display several maps to show is centralized in one display of interactive charts. It is called interactive charts, because it works in partnership with the user to provide all of the information for which he or she may be searching.

Interactive charts are not simply tools that can be used to display geographical information to elementary school children. Interactive charts represent a new way of providing complex information in a simple and effective visual display, interacting with all groups of people in every type of setting.

Several months ago, I was researching the city of Cochin, in India for travel. As I pulled up interactive charts, I dragged my mouse across areas of the maps and charts and was presented with specific information about the area. Later, as I was booking plane tickets, interactive charts of the interior of the plane allowed me to choose my coveted window seat. I could not help but think of the possibilities.

Having been involved in many marketing presentations, I know first-hand the difficulties of presenting a complex set of information about demographics, tendencies, and research results without interactive charts. I found the use of graphs, maps, and charts very helpful, but when it came to presenting a comparison of information in various categories I was stuck. “These graphs are complex enough” I thought. “How can I possibly combine all of this information?” I wish I would have known then about the software used to create interactive charts of India or the airplane.

Stock market graph

Many warehouses already use maps that identify stock storage throughout the warehouse. Interactive charts could take that a step further to show the stock level, incoming shipments, outgoing shipments, where they came from, where they were going, the times stock came in and on which truck, and the times stock was shipped out and on what truck. The difficult task of tracking multiple variables has now been consolidated onto one simple, real-time display with interactive charts.

The charts, diagrams, maps, and other visual displays I used to stress about in presentations can now be organized in such a way that if I wanted to track all of the activities on all levels of an organization-this could include sales, inventory, admin, marketing, R and D, and anything else-I could create a chart, diagram, or map which displays real-time progress with interactive charts. When I want to follow up, all I need to do is drag my mouse over the area or areas of the company that I need to survey. I could even calculate and compare department productivity.

When it is time to come home and review my stock portfolio, I can grab my laptop and pull up the interactive charts displaying the progress of my stocks throughout the day. If I am really curious I could then check out statistics on the snow levels at my favorite ski resorts or the liver cancer rate in Utah. With interactive charts, information is available as fast as the imagination can ask for it.

About the author
Joe Miller is specialist in online advertising. For more information on group collaboration software, please visit