The Visual Organization

Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions

Simon somehow has the uncanny knack to offer sage advice for both IT and business professionals and bedeck it in a fantastic narrative.

—Douglas Laney, VP Information Innovation, Gartner


A good sketch is better than a long speech.

—Napoléon Bonaparte

Publication date: March 24, 2014
Publisher: Wiley
Translations: Chinese

We live in a world of Big Data and, as I discussed in Too Big to Ignore, far too few organizations and their employees are doing anything about it. This world requires different tools, ones that let us find the needles buried in the haystacks, understand immense and dynamic datasets, and ultimately make better business decisions. Beyond new applications, though, Visual Organizations embrace a new mind-set—one predicated on data discovery and exploration.

As is my style, the book contains plenty of what I think are interesting case studies. This is no theoretical text; I accentuate practice over theory. Examples include Netflix, AutoDesk, eBay, the University of Texas, and Vegas startup Wedgies.

This is not a book about how to visualize data. Rather, it is a book about becoming a Visual Organization.

Here’s the post announcing the book.

What’s the book about in three minutes? Watch below to find out.

As part of my San Francisco book tour in the Spring of 2014, I spoke at nine organizations over four days. You can watch the talks from most of the events on the “Dataviz” tab on this page.

As we’ve come to expect from him, Phil doesn’t just write about a topic. Instead, he explores it deeply, connecting it to the business, technology, and societal world around us. Somehow he has the uncanny knack to offer sage advice for both IT and business professionals–this time about visual data expression–and bedeck it in a fantastic narrative.

–Douglas Laney, VP Information Innovation, Gartner

There’s good news in this dazzling book. Yes, Big Data is overwhelming, but progressive organizations have found a way to identify the signal in its noise. Through a mix of analysis and synthesis, Simon demonstrates how it’s possible to see not only the forest, but the trees.

–Brad Feld, Foundry Group Managing Director and co-author, Startup Life

Employees and managers need to know what’s happening in their organizations. There is data everywhere, but how many of us actually use it to drive our work? People learn in different ways, and for many, a visual approach is most powerful. Unfortunately, most organizations have overlooked the opportunity in the visual presentation of data. With The Visual Organization, no longer is there an excuse for doing so. Simon offers a nuanced and refreshing view on contemporary data visualization through compelling storytelling, and yes, great visuals.

–Terri Griffith, Chair, Management Department, Santa Clara University and author of The Plugged-In Manager

Once again, Phil Simon has raised the bar. Like his other books, The Visual Organization takes a very current topic and instructs the reader on what not only what is being done, but what can be done. Simon provides a wealth of advice and examples, demonstrating how organizations can move from data production to data consumption and, ultimately, to action.

–Tony Fisher, author of The Data Asset and Vice President Data Collaboration and Integration, Progress Software

The fourth wave of computing is upon us, and the visualization of information has never been more important. The Visual Organization arrives just in time. Simon’s book helps enterprises learn from and adapt to this new adapt world. A must-read.

–Larry Weber, Chairman and CEO of Racepoint Global and best-selling author

It’s clear that Big Data is transforming business. Less clear until now, however, is how companies can fully leverage its power to generate breakthrough insights. Phil Simon’s deft exploration of data visualization will change the way you see the world.

–Dorie Clark, Author of Reinventing You and adjunct professor, Duke University Fuqua School of Business

The Visual Organization superbly shows the potential of data visualization and how it can spark an organization’s imagination. As Simon makes clear, visualization is how organizations can ask the right questions needed to create real value from their big data efforts; instead of fumbling about with them as too many do today.

—Robert Charette, President, ITABHI Corporation

In Too Big to Ignore, Phil Simon introduced us to the rapidly emerging world of Big Data. In this book, he tackles how we need to see, handle, and present this mountain of information, one unlike the old, familiar, transaction data that business people know quite well. The Visual Organization shines a much-needed light on how businesses are using contemporary data visualization tools.

–Brian Sommer, Enterprise Software Industry Analyst, ZDNet Contributor, and CEO of TechVentive, Inc.

“The sheer amount of data coming at us these days is overwhelming companies both small and large. It’s no wonder that so many miss out on the opportunities right in front of them. The Visual Organization manifests how a wide range of companies is leveraging new and powerful visual tools. Read it and turn your company into a more efficient, data-driven, decision-making machine.

–Frank Gruber, CEO & Co-Founder, Tech Cocktail and author of Startup Mixology

A rollicking and incisive tour of the organizations pioneering the next big thing: putting visual data at the center of the enterprise. Simon’s highly readable account points the way towards incorporating visualization into your own endeavors.

–Todd Silverstein, Entrepreneur and founder, Vizify

In this book, Phil Simon lays out the case for making visualization an organizational priority. He outlines the mind-set, toolsets, and visual concepts that will enable companies to complete the transition and become a visual organization. The intertwining of visualization and other analytic competencies becomes quickly apparent, as it should. After all, visualization is a way to increase peoples’ understanding and comprehension of analytics. Anyone trying to get their organization to take visualization seriously should take a look at this book.

–Bill Franks, Chief Analytics Officer, Teradata and author of Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave

Data visualization is a secret sauce for visionary executives in today’s time-starved economy. Simon’s book provides the Rosetta Stone on how to get there.

–Adrian C. Ott, award-winning author of The 24-Hour Customer and CEO, Exponential Edge

Sure, Big Data is cool, but how can it move the needle? Today, it’s essential to uncover insights far too often unseen, but how do you actually do that? The Visual Organization answers those questions—and more–in spades. Simon demonstrates how, when done correctly, dataviz promotes not only understanding, but action.

–Bill Schmarzo, CTO, EMC Global Services. Author of Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business

Through fascinating case studies and stunning visuals, The Visual Organization demystifies data visualization. Simon charts the transformative effects of dataviz. Only through new tools and a new mind-set can organizations attempt to compete in a rapidly changing global environment.

–Chris Chute, Global Director, IDC

Today data is the new oil. Organizations need ways to quickly make sense of the mountains of data they are collecting. Bottom line: today visualization is more important than ever. The Visual Organization is a checkpoint on current dataviz methods. Simon’s book represents insightful thought leadership that is sure to help any organization compete in an era of Big Data.

–William McKnight, author of Information Management: Strategies for Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Data