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And along the way, an explosion of data – and stories.

By Luciano Alves - Zabbix
CEO Latam


By Luciano Alves | CEO Latam - Mon, 11/13/2023 - 09:00

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Since I started sharing my vision on the technology and data monitoring landscape, we have engaged in discussions on the cultivation of a corporate culture geared towards prevention, recognizing that strategic monitoring can be an assertive means of anticipating the emergence of potential organizational crises. As a result, I also addressed that the incentive for IT teams and other departments within organizations to join forces is critical for the cultivation of a systemic and less fragmented perspective 

In a (hyper)connected era, information flows at breakneck speed, driven by digital transformation. Like all evolutionary leaps, it emerges in line with a global market characterized by competitiveness, changeability, demanding increasingly assertive deliveries, in a short time span and, as Edgar Morin would say, plagued with uncertainty.

Leaders face daily challenges in making data-driven decisions that enable them to (re)think and (re)focus the company's growth strategy in response to market changes. In addition to that, we are stimulated by massive amounts of information, to the point that some even experience what authors called infoxication - intoxication due to excessive consumption of information (DAVID LEWIS, 1998 & ALFONSO CORNELLA, 1996). 

This scenario contributes to an emerging need to present available data in a format that is easily understandable and adaptable to enable effective interpretation. Conversely, in addition to the challenge of having tools available that streamline the interpretation of the visual layer of data, the question I ask is: do we know how to share stories through data? 

An explosion of data

Every day we are exposed to an overwhelming amount of data. In 2018, IDC’s report Date Age 2025 reported that the total amount of data created, consumed and stored around the world reached around 59 zettabytes (59 trillion gigabytes) in 2020. By the year 2025, this number is expected to reach 175 zettabytes. The question I share is: how do we actually use this immense amount of data available to us? 

At the organizational level, even though there is an understanding that the use of data is critical for decision-making, at least in Brazil, a report on Brazilian Analytical Maturity Insights, provided by the Cappra Institute, in 2020, found that only 35% of leaders relied on data for decision-making processes. On the other hand, in spite of the current scenario not being extremely optimistic, there is an interest among organizations in actually developing a data culture. 

And it seems that this transformation will be intensely enhanced, since Gartner estimates that by the year 2026  65% of organizations with a B2B focus will have their decisions not based on intuition but rather guided appropriately by data. 

Given this context, I believe that the greatest challenge for this transition to be assertive and the data culture to finally be put into practice is understanding how to translate data in a clear and understandable way for those who need to analyze it. 

Data visualization as a valuable resource

When pilots are in flight, the plane's instrument panel is a critical resource for them to carry out their work properly and make decisions based on the elements shown there. Each indicator shown on the panel is part of a set of essential information for safely arriving at the expected destination, as planned.

It is up to the pilot to interpret the data set in real time. By analyzing patterns, the pilot can predict changes and make decisions based on the narrative that data is telling.

In this scenario, the instrument panel is the tool that concentrates all the graphic elements, maps, and other complex information to enable the pilot to understand the information provided there and obtain a panoramic view of all the exposed components. Data visualization is a key element and, just like in an airplane, it could easily be related to any other context. 

And the reason is simply because collecting data alone is insufficient for decisions to be made. It must also be filtered, selected, interpreted, correlated and, most importantly, communicated effectively. When we reach an understanding of the potential that data visualization provides us, we are able to identify some elements such as: 

- Ease of reading/interpreting data: When data is made available in visual formats, such as graphs and maps, for example, organizational players can understand it more intuitively. 

- Identification of Patterns/Behaviors: Visualizing data streamlines the identification of potential anomalies, patterns and behaviors that may indicate potential issues, opportunities in a business and/or project future values of a certain metric.

- Guided Decision Making: Clearly visualized data produces potentially more assertive, objective, and effective decisions.

- Involvement: Access to interactive graphics and dynamic visualizations enables the engagement of the individuals involved in a specific decision-making process, allowing them to explore data independently and gain new insights. After all, it’s the context around the data that provides value and enhances the engagement of people and areas.

The ability to share patterns, trends, and insights from complex data sets in a clear and understandable manner through data visualization reinforces the perspective of data as a valuable asset to business, exactly as described in the article published by the Economist in 2017 entitled “The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”, which points to data as the most coveted resource today. 

And, along the way, one must blend processes to tell compelling stories.

In the world of data monitoring, data visualization serves as the crucial link between data and human comprehension, in the plane pilot analogy given above — the decision-maker, and the instrument panel with its dashboards, visual alerts, and reports. In my daily work, I've come to recognize that effective visualization of that data is paramount for comprehending phenomena such as network status, trend identification, user experience, prompt problem-solving, confident decision-making, and more. 

There are many possibilities for gathering and exploring collected information, converting it into consistent and objective data. On the other hand, organizational actors must join forces so they can position themselves as active in that space, interpreting and carrying out critical analyzes to provide a strategic perspective within the business. 

To reach a destination as planned, don't forget to have the right resources.

Back to the plane metaphor used above, it is the pilot that makes the decisions. On the other hand, he or she must have resources available to enable fully informed choices. At the same time, there is also a crucial difference in this metaphor.

This is because even though the resource available to the pilot is the aircraft cockpit, unlike aviation, in other areas of the corporate world, leaders do not have the same control panel at their disposal to confirm their strategies. In the decision-making process, a leader needs to consider a work format that is related to their organizational goals, which are different depending on the company and department.

Therefore, it is important that the resources chosen to allow for data visualization are adaptable to different businesses. After all, organizations are made of living organisms, which are organized by/in their differences. The metrics to be collected, as well as the visual layers that must be met, may be different, depending on the decision makers’ needs. That is why I reinforce the importance of choosing universal tools that can serve different industries and that access any metrics; however – and pay attention to this – always remember to look for flexible and moldable alternatives to each specific need, especially when it comes to a monitoring journey – which is my area of expertise. 

Finally, what I believe to be crucial to consider in all actions is the human factor. It is precisely that factor that enables critical analysis and educated decision-making. For the data visualization process to be effective, the analysis and holistic thinking practice is what aligns decision-making with the organizational strategy. Furthermore, it is essential to make use of all these resources to share well-structured - and thoughtfully planned - stories. 


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Photo by:   Luciano Alves

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