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“A data viz expert is like a language translator.”

Timerie Bahler is no stranger to digging deep into the data of organizations – from telecommunications to trucking and finance companies. Many different industries, with many different challenges. What they all have in common is that somewhere in the data there’s always something new to discover that has the power to enhance operations and bottom lines. And that keeps Timerie motivated, professionally, as she turns ostensibly hidden information into actionable insight.

Interpreting the hidden language

She likens being a data visualization expert who interprets ‘hidden’ information to being a “language translator” – with a special ability to communicate and uncover what’s not in a client’s line of sight. Calligo’s clients know they have the data and that the insights are in there somewhere, but they need help to see them – and then act on them. At other times, she says she feels more like a chef.

“If someone goes to the grocery store and buys a ton of ingredients – fresh vegetables, herbs, rice, and meat – and they then munch on the raw food, they will be fed and kept alive,” explains Timerie. “But, add a chef into the equation and they can be served up an amazing meal. The pieces can be turned into something meaningful. Whatever level of data literacy they have, if clients aren’t utilizing visualization, then they’re lacking the chef – who will transform many different bits into something people will connect with and remember.”

Skill and passion

It’s important to point out that being data visualization ‘chefs’ takes extraordinary skill and is not an easy task. Not satisfied with creating game changing dashboards for their clients, Calligo’s data viz team recently took on the challenge of an internal competition mimicking Tableau’s ‘Iron Viz’ rules (the world’s largest data visualization competition). Each person had to submit a piece of storytelling, based on data sets on the theme of ‘Health and Wellness’. Timerie – then only in her first year as a professional Visual Analytics Consultant – picked the topic men’s mental health. And you can see the end result ‘Tough Guys’ here.

“I am proud of it from a design and meaningful content perspective. The data came from a survey run by a government department. I got a lot of codified numbers – including a 500-page codebook

on how to interpret the answers. This was not just an exercise in storytelling or data visualization; it was a deep dive into information that I had to clean, interpret, find stories – and then communicate.”

On the front foot

And she does this for her clients, too. A logistics company she’s worked with recently needed to track the safety risks of its operators and pinpoint any issues before they arose – like whether operators were on top of their training. All this tied directly into the company’s safety rating – and therefore, its funding.

“On many projects, the ROI of data visualization is obvious,” explains Calligo’s Visual Analytics Consultant, Timerie Bahler. “Providing insight for this logistics company with easy to interpret data dashboards was a critical step forward. And the ROI was clear cut. We could demonstrate things like man hours saved and incident reduction. There are other times when data visualization makes it easier for people to do their jobs, well. They can see trends and make informed decisions. This doesn’t always have an obvious price tag; it can, however, save organisations a huge amount of money in the long run.”

From communicating corporate and human stories…to animals and Timerie’s first ever dashboard was about fatal bear attacks, demonstrating that there really is no topic that data visualization experts can’t work their magic on.

In her own words: “If something is memorable, that’s how you create value – in business and in life.”