Information technology and animation

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Information technology (IT) plays a key role in creating knowledge [1] and supporting management towards decision making[2] and Visualization tools are computer applications that produce graphical representations that aid decision making. Visualization tools are used in IT based decision support systems (DSS) like the simple spreadsheets to complex computer-based systems like business intelligence system, enterprise resource management and reporting system, knowledge management systems, and expert systems; to help decision makers to solve structured ,unstructured and semi structured problems. In the digital era, decision makers have access to large amount of digital data which can be used by visual analytics software to support decision making.

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Well structured problem has clear path to solution but for solving ill structured problem, external representation of the data and the problem can reduce the effort in reaching an accurate solution[3]. Chief economist of Google Inc predicts that need for data visualization will be growing rapidly in the next few years. He writes. “the ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decade…. because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it… Managers need to be able to access and understand the data themselves [4].

Independent researchers have predicted high future demand for visualization tools. Gartner’s research reports that in spite of global recession businesses are interested in investing in business intelligence (BI) platforms that are expanding their capabilities towards advanced data visualization, scorecards and interactive dashboards. It predicts BI market’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2012 to be 7.0% for stand-alone BI platforms ([5].

Review of the literature on computer graphics as decision aid reports that the format in which data is presented to decision makers is critical to provide information for making decision[6]. As per the dual coding theory, cognition consists of two sub systems: Visual and Verbal[7-9]. The theory specifies that when information is represented visually, the recall is easier and the human brain can process changes in shape, color and motion parallely. As per the Central Capacity theory humans have limited working memory [10] and visualization of data (e.g. chart, diagram, graph) activates the visual component of the short-term working memory (visual working memory) to hold the visual objects for immediate attention. Both the theory recommend visual data representation to provide information to the users for making decisions as visual information is easier to store and recall.

Visualization aids in perceptual information processing to identify exceptions, trends, patterns, relationship in the data (clusters, associations, causality etc), detect outliers and to summarize data perceptually [11].

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