Analyze This, Visualize That ……

And  Why Not “Scenarize”, Simulate, and Virtualize
Them, Too?

(Part Two of  Data Deluge, Insights Drought)

“Over  the next 24 months, executives say they will focus on supplementing standard
historical reporting of data with emerging approaches that convert information into
scenarios and simulations that make insights easier to understand and to act
.- MIT Sloan Management Review: Analytics the New Path to Value (2010)


The New Intelligent Enterprise Report Cover (Source: MIT-SMR)

How 3,000 Executives, Managers and Analysts from Around the  Globe Propose to Deal with Data Deluge

In my previous blog on the subject, I  sought to establish, using quoted materials, that an intelligent enterprise is  “… one that uses analytics  in a sophisticated manner to produce actionable insights from the flood of data  available to it, which insights lead to wise decisions”.

Note that  the initial quote for this blog reintroduces a basic finding of the study which forms the foundation  for coping with data deluge:  executives are actively seeking new tools  that will a) facilitate development of insights from data and b) enable them to promptly act on such  insights.

The special report New Intelligent Enterprise from MIT Sloan  Management Review (henceforth, MIT-SMR  in this blog)  is based on responses from a global sample of
3,000 executives, managers and analysts. One very significant finding is that over the two-year period following the time of the study (2010)  executives expect to access improved ways by which “complex insights” are communicated “…so they can quickly absorb the meaning of the data and take action on  it.”

The expected new  tools and approaches that they hope to use for this purpose include the  following [listing format supplied]:

  • “data visualization and process simulation,
  • “… text and voice analytics,
  • “social media analysis, and
  • “other predictive and prescriptive techniques”.

A Quick Note on Visualization

A good and modern  definition of visualization is given in this Wikipedia article:  “ … a tool or a method for interpreting  image data fed into a computer and for generating images from complex  multi-dimensional data sets…”.

Moreover, a cursory  review of   a  number of Wikipedia articles on the subject has yielded various types of  visualization tools and methods . Of direct interest to consumers/users  of oil and gas data are the following:

  • Geovisualization
  • Flow visualization
  • Information visualization
  • Information graphics
  • Data visualization
  •  Scientific visualization

A brief on each one is in order –


Geovisualization or  Geographic Visualization, “….refers to a set of tools and techniques
supporting geospatial data analysis through the use of interactive  visualization
.” Its focus is constructing knowledge rather than “knowledge storage or information


Screenshot of exploratory spatio-temporal analysis tool. (Source: Wikipedia)

  Flow Visualization

This type of visualization tool is mainly employed  in fluid dynamics  which renders “flow patterns visible’.  The  visible (or visualized) flow patterns yield directly usable “qualitative and  quantitative information”.

A model Cessna with helium-filled bubbles showing pathlines of the wingtip vortices. (Source: Wikipedia)


Information Visualization

This is an interdisciplinary approach to  creating visual representations
“… of large-scale  collections of non-numerical information..”. Examples of such information  include “… files and lines of code in software systems, library and bibliographic databases, networks of  relations on the internet, ….” and others of similar typology.

Partial map of the Internet early 2005. (Source: Wikipedia)

Information Graphics

Information graphics (or infographics for short) is the tool to use to make  quick and clear graphic visual “representations  of information, data or knowledge”. As produced the graphics are able to quickly and clearly  depict  “complex information ….  such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education.


The Washington Metro subway map. (Source: Wikipedia)

 Data Visualization

The same source declares “Data  visualization is the study of the  visual representation of data, meaning ‘information which has been abstracted in some  schematic form, including attributes or variables for the units of information’”.

A data visualization of Wikipedia as part of the World Wide Web, demonstrating hyperlinks. (Source: Wikipedia)

Scientific Visualization

Our source  says, quoting York  University Psychology Professor Michael L. Friendly, “Scientific visualization  is an interdisciplinary branch of science ‘primarily concerned with the visualization  of three  dimensional phenomena  (architectural, meteorological, medical,, biological, etc.), where the  emphasis is on realistic renderings of volumes, surfaces, illumination sources,  and so forth, perhaps with a dynamic (time) component’”.

A scientific visualization of a large simulation of a Rayleigh–Taylor instability caused by two mixing fluids. (Source: Wikipedia)


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At next and final install I will touch on “Scenarizing”  (scenario building/scenario thinking) plus Simulation and Virtualization as the  other tools executives would want to use to quickly gain and act on insights  from masses of data that come their way.

I will also cite  some examples and illustrations of how E & P software packages being used in the  Oil and Gas industry are enabling users to effectively deal with data deluge challenges and opportunities. Particular mention will be made of geoSCOUT and Visage.


About b., peternolasco

Customer Education Specialist with geoLOGIC Systems Ltd.; keen student and practitioner of corporate adult learning and learning communities in the context of organizational change and development.
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3 Responses to Analyze This, Visualize That ……

  1. Check this article for definitions and examples of various options to make the best of big data

  2. PeterNolasco says:

    Thank you very much, Nicholas, for the suggestion. I have just barely scratched the surface of the sites you twitted on and I’m getting fresh insights on how visualization, among others, works wonders dealing with big data. By the way, I’d like to follow you on twitter to keep abreast of your recommendations and insights. I love this site and will visit it quite often enough.

  3. I am always struck by the way in which really powerful data visualizations can function simultaneously as aesthetic and informatic objects. Have you heard about the launch of the Information is Beautiful Awards?

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