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Big Data Visualization Tools for SMBs

Big data is becoming a big business. As organizations attempt to realize the potential of collecting and analyzing large amounts of consumer and organizational data, they also demand more tools that will help them do this more easily and effectively. The major problem with big data is that even after the data is analyzed into knowledge, it may still be hard to understand for the average Joe or, for that matter, the top executive.

This is why data visualization is so important. For most people, visualization of the knowledge gathered from the data will make it more accessible and, therefore, easier to understand and use. By using data visualization tools, decision makers—like you—can maximize the potential of big data (almost) effortlessly. No advanced statistical knowledge is required.

This post will introduce a few mostly free web-based tools that will help you visualize your business’s data. An added bonus of these solutions is that they use crowdsourcing and promote data and knowledge-sharing among their users.

IBM’s Many Eyes: This free data-visualization tool allows you to visualize your own data and embed it in to a website, presentation, or system. There are six visualization categories, defined by the knowledge they are meant to visualize. While you can upload your own data to Many Eyes, you can also use one of the tens of thousands data files uploaded by other users. You can also explore visualization done by other users, if you’d like.

Google Fusion Tables: This free tool created by Google Labs allows you to gather, visualize, and share larger data tables online. The unique thing about it is that through it, you can combine your own data table with other users’ tables in order to gain insight from an even larger data pool. Fusion Tables also gives you control over who can use your data and enable you to attract developers by offering them an API on your data.

Visual.ly: Unlike most tools that offer traditional visualization options, Visual.ly is all about infographics. This crowdsourcing-based solution aims to connect data owners with professional designers who specialize in creating infographics upon request. Once you choose a template for your infographic, you work directly with the designer to make it perfect. Through Visual.ly’s Project Center, you can track the progress of your project in terms of time and budget.

As I said, finding the insights hidden in big pools of data may be problematic, but visualization is a good solution. These tools also reveal where big data is going—sharing and collaborating is clearly the next big data trend.

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