Data Visualization and Digital Signage: Just Like Cookies and Cream
Brain Rules, a book by molecular biologist, John Medina, describes what advertisers and communicators have always known: learning and memory are directly linked to our visual perceptions.
Vision trumps all other senses.
We see immediately with little effort, but thinking is much slower. It’s no wonder that data visualization and digital signage go so well together – just like cookies and cream!
Typically, businesses will have multiple reports running and updating every day e.g. sales/marketing numbers, donor contributions, safety numbers, call center statistics, etc. The main goal of data visualization (e.g. graphs, charts, tables) is to visualize this data i.e. arrange it in a format that is easy to read, easy to understand, and most important, actionable.
Data visualization tools will take raw data in a spreadsheet etc. and convert it into a graph, chart, map, or table that is easy to read and understand. Digital signage then displays these reports to the targeted audience.
With data visualization and digital signage, it takes no time for employees to check and understand their progress reports. They get at-a-glance access to updated reports without needing to lift a finger.
On the flip side, without data visualization and digital signage, employees will have to disrupt their normal workflow to pull up and review a report. This is time that employees could have otherwise spent being productive e.g. calling a client instead of tackling a spreadsheet.
Marrying Data Visualization and Digital Signage
According to Science Daily, 90% of the data existing in 2013 came into existence during the previous two years. That’s plenty of data, both back-of-house, and consumer-facing, that is still actionable:
- Organizations may want to share their energy management performance and targets.
- Manufacturing facilities may want to show safety numbers or machine performance.
- Corporate offices may be interested in communicating financial goals.
- Schools may want to report attendance rates or compare grades to other schools in the district.
- Realtors may want to display changing interest rates over a period of time.
- Hospitals or churches with fundraising events may want to display real-time contributions against goals.
More often than not, this data is automatically generated and compiled in a spreadsheet. In the past, communicating this data on a visual communications medium like digital signage would have involved converting the spreadsheet into a graph, then the graph into content for digital signage. Companies would need to repeat this task every time there is a change to the data!
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Digital signage software is now automating this process through the use of widgets.
An example is the Analytics Widget.
This digital signage widget takes raw data in a CSV, XML, or JSON file and converts it into a graph or chart that is optimized for display on a digital signage screen.
When the source file is updated, the graph or chart on the digital signage screen is also automatically updated.
Such content automation saves companies a lot of manpower and time while displaying regular, fresh content. When used this way, digital signage becomes a service provider for employees where the optimized content adds value to their work days. [/intense_column]
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Here are some clever ways businesses and organizations use data visualization and digital signage to engage their viewers:
Data visualization and digital signage is transforming manufacturing by encouraging people and machines to work together more efficiently.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as production metrics, inventory management, product quality, worker performance, machine performance, quota tracking, safety incident reports, labor costs, etc can be displayed as graphs or charts on large display screens. Making this data highly visible, and easy to read and understand is crucial for production floors where most employees will not have access to the traditional mediums of phones and email.
Displaying such information gives employees continuous visibility of their contribution to the overall goal. It also makes them hyper-aware of any changes to the routine processes. This can lead to improved productivity, less waste, and more profits.
And it works!
OMRON’s Kusatsu Factory reported a 30% boost in productivity when they combined data visualization and digital signage.
They combined data from a range of sources to extract key production information and generate reports which were visualized into graphs and charts. Among other things, these graphical presentations showed the time taken to produce a single product and the number and type of errors in each process.
Kusatsu Factory reported that the single largest benefit of data visualization was in raising awareness among workers on the factory floor. By reporting on the entire production process, the workers see the production line as a whole rather than concentrating on their own departments or tasks. Both workers and managers also get to see the benefits/effects of improvements or changes to the production process. This became a source of motivation for OMRON’s Kusatsu Factory. It provided the inspiration for further suggestions and created a cycle of positive change.
Corporate Offices and Board Rooms
Gallup reported that consistent communication in the workplace is connected to higher levels of engagement. Companies who communicate with their employees about goals, mission, vision, industry updates, company coverage in the news, performance, etc. outperform those who do not by a whopping 202%.
Data visualization makes the ROI of communications even better. It kills three, yes three, birds with one stone.
One, it simplifies and shares important performance statistics with employees, keeping them in the loop about where they are and where they need to reach. When employees see how they’re doing, their performance improves.
Two, it encourages healthy competition. Pitting employees or teams against each other and showing their performance in real-time is extra motivation to do better. Teams in different locations can compete to see who brings in the most sales, or more canned goods for a company-wide food drive.
Data visualization also solves the dilemma of supplying digital signage screens with fresh, relevant content. Sales numbers, leads, etc. are constantly changing, which means the graph, chart, or table presenting this information is constantly changing. This adds value to your digital signage screens and gives employees a reason to look at them.
K-12 Schools and College Campuses
K-12 schools and college campuses can combine data visualization and digital signage to display attendance and test scores. Schools can display these data sets as stand-alone figures. Or, they can compare these data to previous periods or different schools.
Making this information highly visible and easily understandable allows students to better understand their performance. School leaders can also better understand achievement gaps.
Real Estate and Property Management Companies
Data visualization and digital signage in real estate have great value.
In addition to giving virtual tours of the property and displaying special offers, real estate companies can use digital signage to display changing leasing prices and interest rates. The companies can compare these statistics to different periods, cities, and regions. Realtors can also compare rental and mortgage rates to influence customers to buy.
Donor walls in hospitals, churches, and NGOs are popular for expressing the organizations’ gratitude to their donors and supporters.
Organizations can also use donor walls to encourage giving by displaying current numbers and goals. Data visualization turns numbers in a spreadsheet into a graphical animated presentation that’ll get donors excited about giving and having their names on the wall.
The wall can also show how organizations are utilizing donations. A simple pie chart can show what percentage they use for research at the hospital, and how much they use to renovate the facility.
This show of transparency builds trust with givers, motivating even more giving.
Exactly Like Cookies and Cream
Data visualization and digital signage are perfectly suited. When combined, they paint a different digital experience for employees and customers. This coupling improves communication, employee engagement, and operational efficiencies all while saving organizations money.