Faced with the diversity and complexity of information, it is clear that it is becoming vital to have methods and tools to structure the data, analyze it, to establish meaningful relationships between the elements identified to enlighten decision-makers in their choices.
Mind mapping is undoubtedly a proven means of organizing and visualizing information but remains relatively limited if one has to manage complex data with decision-making issues. According to Frédéric Martinet in a post entitled Information mapping: gadget or business tool? real information mapping is the one that manages important data flows to be spatialized according to various variables with powerful graphic visualization tools. It discusses the advantages of such a process which of course has some pitfalls to consider, draws up a typology of mapping and inventories some useful software to succeed in such an activity.
Information Mapping: Advantages and Pitfalls
The advantages of visual representation of information are well known: spatialization (situation of objects between them, 3D dimension), visualization (ease of memorization, communication to generate information), and interaction, thanks to the dynamic exploration mode. Information mapping as such allows going further on each of these aspects. It allows the processing and visualization of large volumes of data, the automatic spatialization of data according to variables in that data or variables arising from relationships between objects, and finally the use of graphical tools for visualizing and differentiating data (sizes, colors, distance).
The map is thus indeed a decision support tool, in the sense that it represents and filters a mass of data and makes it accessible and understandable; but the production of a map cannot be considered in itself as decision support: its value depends first on the coherence and reliability of the upstream collection of information, and then on its structuring and effective readability.
Frédéric Martinet identifies four main categories of complex maps useful to companies:
- mappings related to the Internet network, which facilitate the identification of relationships between sites around a theme;
- mappings of human networks accessible through their digital traces (mapping of emails exchanged for example);
- "Market Intelligence" mappings, to locate relationships between economic actors, products, markets and visualize the respective sizes of these actors on their markets;
- documentary mappings to visualize and/or interact with bodies of documents.
Many software editors are recommended depending on the complexity of the data to be manipulated. Martinet mentions Gephi, presented right here and which offers the advantage of being open source. Touchgraph and Pikko Software are also worth looking into, even if they are paid proprietary solutions. For those who are adept in the language of Shakespeare, Frédéric Martinet's billet is translated into English.
Information mapping: gadget or business tool? or Data mapping: gadget or business tool? Frédéric Martinet , December 6, 2011
Illustration: sociometric via photo pin cc. Map made with Gephi.
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