Innovation Spotlight

Data Visualization in Mobility

You might think you don’t know what data visualization is, but you’ve probably seen it more than you know. You might have been to Selfiecity and looked at how people in different global regions take selfies. Or perhaps you went looking for a reason city buses bunch up when there’s a slight delay. Or maybe – just maybe – you’ve used it to demonstrate a mobility initiative.

In the Worldwide ERC® report The Perfect Storm: Talent Mobility Leaders Decode the Future, it is noted:

“One of the ways to present data most effectively and persuasively is through data visualization, a technique used to communicate data or information graphically or pictorially, which allows patterns and trends to be detected. Processing in the visual cortex is faster than in the cerebral cortex—in other words, people can ‘see’ faster than they can ‘think’—meaning data can be more quickly understood when given a visual cue.”

Data Visualization in Daily Mobility Activities

Elena Anderson-de Lay GMS-T (Brookings Institution) experienced data visualization first-hand when a colleague in the finance department asked her to look at a dashboard, which applied this technique, to ensure it was clear to a non-finance person. Anderson-de Lay saw that it enabled a quick understanding of complex data and looked for ways to apply it to her mobility work.

At the time, she was trying to secure a “green card” for a healthcare expert who was working to combat counterfeit drugs. He was using social media to communicate about the problem to students, the media and other healthcare experts. Concurrently, her organization’s communications team was measuring their social media amplification rates, and she saw an opportunity.

Applying what she’d learned from the communications team and her finance colleague, she used the healthcare expert’s social media statistics with data visualization to illustrate the impact of his work, presented the data to immigration authorities, and ultimately the green card was approved.

Anderson-de Lay uses this technique successfully in other cases too, such as to communicate her work load and performance self-appraisal. She tracks volume, cycles and patterns for all the organization’s mobility and immigration work, using the data to justify requests for resources and to demonstrate her value in performance appraisals.

Related: The Work-Anywhere Future of Mobility

Respect for Data

In the article “Visualize This: How to Make the Most Effective Use of Data,” one of the first recommendations for optimal data is to create a company-wide culture of respect for data. For data usage to be truly transformative, it notes, “Organizations must develop a data-centric culture—one in which data and good data practices are respected,” and committing to ongoing training and technology investments that prioritize the enablement of data discovery and insight deliverability beyond the IT department.

Also noted was to put data in the hands of decision makers:

“When all decision makers in the company can ask the right questions and get the right answers, the organization as a whole is empowered not just to innovate and compete but also to identify and get in front of potential gaps and vulnerabilities.”

Read Worldwide ERC®’s report: The Perfect Storm: Talent Mobility Leaders Decode the Future for more information on data use, and other ways mobility professionals can be a strategic partner to business objectives.

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