ShiftCentral / Mapping the way to a more intelligent business

Mapping the way to a more intelligent business

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen at least a few posts in recent weeks with headlines like “40 Maps That Explain The World” or “19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World.” They may or may not have blown your mind or changed how you see the world, as promised, but these alternative data representations are becoming increasingly common and are, in fact, changing the way information is shared.

What you probably haven’t seen is a post about “10 Maps That Will Change How You Do Better Business,” but that was what came out of the University of Chicago’s first Data Visualization Challenge. While some teams tackled social issues or public policies, others had a more business-centric approach and examined topics like real estate and investment banking.

One team of U Chicago students’ project, called “Visualizing Flight Delay,” mapped average inbound flights, outbound flights and delay time in minutes across the U.S. Their work grabbed top prize in the visualization category. Their work identified which routes are most commonly delayed and by how much, information that could help airlines solve problems, save money and improve customers’ experiences.

As one participant described it, the objective is to create “visualizations that let the data speak for themselves, yet are intuitive and aesthetically pleasing.” Maps and other forms of data visualization are becoming more common, but the goal they share with other forms of curated content is providing key insights and conveying information in a way that’s meaningful and easy to understand. No matter what its form, that’s the purpose of quality market intelligence.