Thursday, August 18, 2011

Data Visualization/Infographics in PLM – Will it help make better decisions?

As PLM implementations and usage have matured over time, from being a simple repository of CAD data to a single source of truth, the data locked in these systems have also increased exponentially. This data usually exhibits the key characteristics of good data – being well controlled, accurate, organized, relevant, reliable, and valid. This treasure trove can be harnessed to yield knowledge (which is a series of facts) and intelligence (the ability to think and reason and using and processing the knowledge) and to do that it needs to be properly understood. However till now in most cases such data have been presented only in the form of tabular search results with very little emphasis on mechanisms of illustrating the data in a form which enables a mental picture of what is being revealed.

“The point is that the data [is] good but looking at it and trying to analyze it without an appropriate visual representation will not be helpful in drawing [any types of] conclusions or noticing any patterns. “ []
Infographics Example 1

I believe Infographics can help here. “Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. With an information graphic, computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians develop and communicate concepts using a single symbol to process information”. []

Infographics Example 2

“The adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" refers to the idea that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly.” []

Infographics Example 3
Identifying solutions to problems becomes easier if complex data can be easily refined. See ecologist Eric Berlow illustrating the tips and tricks for breaking down big issues, he distills an overwhelming infographic on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to a few elementary points.

Most of the Inforgraphics I have seen till date seems to be one off creations of artists – Can an automated, scalable, efficient technology deliver infographics that is quickly refreshed with current data? As a matter of fact can we do multidimensional analysis of volumes of product data to get information about the business in a more intuitive way?