Having a very clear view of your customers and their problems has never been more critical. And in a connected, digital world, knowledge exists before the business question has been asked.
That knowledge can be extracted and interpreted from the rivers of data that flow in increasing volume through social networks, e-commerce, and between and within organisations and a burgeoning number of internet connected devices. As digital transformation and data flows accelerate, so does the challenge.
Beyond extraction is the further challenge of interpreting and communicating the information gleaned in such a way that it has real impact on your audience, whether that be your stakeholders or customers.
The goal of data visualisation designers is to communicate information not just clearly and efficiently but in such a way that it makes for compelling understanding, and large organisations everywhere can take inspiration from the NYC based designers of 'EXIT', Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Last Friday I attended the Australian premiere of this exhibition, which draws on big data from over one hundred sources, such as UNESCO and the World Bank.
Through geocoding of this data, and some very clever visual processing, this immersive exhibition presents a picture of the issues facing our planet which is both visually compelling and tough to argue with.
The 270 degree, panoramic presentation visually correlates global human migratory trends with urgent social and economic issues, illustrating human displacement due to natural and man-made disasters, and the decimation of entire cultures, environments, and livelihoods.
Macro global trends are made tangible through design excellence.
The work had its genesis on 2008, but this updated version, first exhibited at the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris was when it stunned world leaders.
A tenet of design thinking is that making visual representations and prototypes facilitates communication of concepts and ideas. The same applies to data - all too often the meaning can remain hidden through poor presentation.
EXIT is a stunning example of how skilled designers are able to use data to hold a mirror to the meaning. You can't argue with the data.
The exhibition continues through 25th March 2017 at the UNSW Galleries, Cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd Paddington NSW 2021 before relocating to the NGV, Melbourne.