Innovation Blog

Every two weeks, we will share a new post on innovation and related topics from our faculty and professional staff. The purpose of these short posts is to introduce our readers to a new idea or a new approach to an old idea.

Innovation is not just for big companies. You can innovate too.

Innovation is not just for large corporations with deep pockets, extensive research and development teams.

The research is clear that innovation is the key to the success of small businesses in any economy. Small businesses innovate and adapt to changing market settings are more likely to survive and thrive in the long term. Small businesses also benefit from innovation, and it is essential for their survival and growth. According to the Small Business Administration, “a commitment to innovation is essential for small businesses to remain competitive. In today's rapidly changing business environment, small businesses need to be agile and adaptable to remain relevant and meet the changing needs of customers."  

Take for example, Mike Jones who owns a fitness business which offers spin classes. They were wildly popular and then the pandemic came. He had to quickly adapt to the new reality. With in-person classes no longer feasible due to social distancing measures, he decided to offer virtual classes instead. 

At first, he encountered some technical challenges, such as finding the right equipment and software to deliver high-quality classes online. However, he was determined to make it work and invested in the necessary technology. He also offered free trial classes to his customers to encourage them to try the new format. He was able to compete with larger companies such as Peloton and hold on to his base of customers. Over time, he did not abandon the online classes. They became a staple of his overall business. 

The research is clear that innovation is the key to the success of small businesses in any economy. Small businesses innovate and adapt to changing market settings are more likely to survive and thrive in the long term. 2 

So, how can you create a culture of agility and adaptability in your small business? 

  1. Encourage Creativity: Innovation often starts with creativity. Encourage your team to produce innovative ideas by creating an environment that fosters creativity. Offer bonus’ for innovative ideas that create or capitalize on new markets.
  2. Embrace Change: Innovation needs change. Small businesses that are willing to embrace change and adapt to latest ideas and technologies are more likely to succeed in today's fast-paced business environment. Be open to trying new things and be willing to pivot if something is not working.
  3. Leverage Technology: Technology can level the playing field for small businesses. By using technology, small businesses can streamline operations, reduce costs, and reach new customers. Consider using cloud-based tools, automation, or AI-powered software to improve your business processes.
  4. Focus on Customer Needs: Innovation should be customer centric. Small businesses should focus on understanding their customers' needs and pain points and develop products or services that solve these problems. By doing so, small businesses can create loyal customers and gain a competitive advantage. 

In conclusion, innovation is essential for small businesses to survive and thrive. By encouraging creativity, embracing change, using technology, collaborating with others, and focusing on customer needs, small businesses can stay ahead of the competition and grow their business. In summary, do not be afraid to try new things and take calculated risks to innovate and improve your business. By being agile and adaptable, Mike survived the pandemic and grew his business. He demonstrated the importance of being willing to pivot in response to changing circumstances and being open to innovative ideas and technologies.

Submitted by Dr. Marc Miller, Dean of the School of Business and Health Administration.

Make it Easy for Your Customers: Remove the Pain Points from Your Processes

You may be wondering how Innovation in small businesses can be accomplished when you only have 4 or 5 employees. Take the case of a small bakery. Samantha’s Sweets is a small bakery in Arkadelphia Arkansas. Sam, as her customers call her, prides herself on her delicious baked goods and excellent customer service. However, she noticed that her sales were starting to decline. After talking to some of her regular customers, she discovered that they were unhappy with the long wait times and lack of parking near her bakery.

Samantha realized that these process pain points were negatively impacting her customers' experience. To address the issue, she decided to offer a pre-order system for her busiest hours, allowing customers to place their orders ahead of time and skip the line. She also started partnering with neighboring businesses to provide more parking options for her customers.

Leading innovation in a small business that has only 4 or 5 employees can seem daunting and even not worth it, but it is possible. By fostering a culture of innovation in even small firms, you will be able to better identify opportunities, stay informed of current trends, set clear goals, invest in the right technology, and become more adaptable. This helps you to stay ahead of the competition.

A common strategy to innovate and become more adaptable is to simply listen to your customers in an intentional and purposeful way. Thus, a focus on Customer Pain Points can be helpful in innovating. Encouraging your employees to find these pain points should be a large part of your strategy. That is, innovation should be customer focused. Samantha understood that her customers were everything to her and that she might be creating the best baked goods in town, but if the pain points were not addressed, those tasty treats would never be consumed.

Talk to your customers and understand their needs and pain points . Use this information to develop new products or services that solve their problems and create value for them. Encourage your employees to ask your customers what they really need or want. Encourage them to explore what else that they could do to help uncover hidden needs.

Your customers are the best source of innovation. Finding out what they really want is sometimes difficult at best. Be sure to ask open-ended questions and listen actively to their responses. There are four categories of pain points:

  • Financial pain points: These are pain points related to cost and value. Customers may perceive a product or service as too expensive or may not see the value in it. This can be a barrier to making a purchase or renewing a subscription.
  • Product pain points: These are pain points related to the features or functionality of a product or service. Customers may find the product difficult to use or may meet technical issues that prevent them from achieving their desired outcome.
  • Support pain points: These are pain points related to customer service or support. Customers may have trouble contacting customer service or may feel that the issue was unresolved. This can lead to frustration and a negative customer experience.
  • Process pain points: These are pain points related to the buying or service delivery process. Customers may find the process confusing or time-consuming or may meet obstacles that prevent them from completing a transaction or receiving a service.

By actively encouraging your employees to find these pain points and communicate them back to you in a formal manner, you can go a long way toward constant innovation in your small business. Samantha’s Sweets now uses technology to innovate these pain points away and better responds to new pain points quickly and efficiently.

Submitted by Dr. Marc Miller, Dean of the School of Business and Health Administration.

Growing Your Small Business with Innovation and Creativity

Yes, you are creative. Creative innovation starts when you examine a challenge from a different point of view with the goal of learning more about the challenge. Maria Duggan, the proprietor of a small vintage clothing boutique in a tiny town in central Georgia, is a great role model for creative problem solving.

Maria prides herself on offering unique, high-quality apparel. She noticed over time, though, that the boutique sales were starting to decline. After closer examination, she realized more of her customers were moving to online shopping. It appeared the boutique experience was no longer meeting the needs or interests of her customers, a common challenge among business large and small. What else could she offer to stimulate store visits?

Searching for new ideas to spark declining sales, Maria may have been inspired by the large offering of online fashion blogs. That’s the answer to her sales challenge! Customers need guidance on how to wear “vintage clothing” in a modern way. Maria quickly organized and hosted "Vintage Styling Workshops," to teach customers how to style vintage clothing in a modern way.

Maria also realized a need to market her workshops. Word-of-mouth advertising is the go-to option for many small businesses. To be successful, Maria needed to tap into a network of customers passionate about style with strong social connections. Fashion bloggers, influencers, and college students were the perfect group of customers to invite to the workshops.

Four C’s of Creativity

Maria’s approach to creative problem solving is a fitting example of a mini-C innovation using Kaufman and Beghetto’s (2009) Four C Model of Creativity. The Four C Model ranges in impact from the small groups like individuals to large groups like society. Using this model to frame creativity could be helpful in breaking creativity brain freeze.

  • Mini-C: Personally meaningful interpretations of experiences, actions, and insights which lead to new ideas and approaches.
  • Little-C: New ideas and approaches that are transformed into solutions.
  • Pro-C: Creative solutions that establish common practice within an area of expertise or industry.
  • Big C: Creative accomplishments that have a significant, lasting impact on culture and society.

Small businesses interested in adding value to an existing customer base might start with mini-C ideas that transform into little-C innovations. Maria discovered a mini-C style guidance idea eventually grew into a little-C workshop innovation.

Thanks to her willingness to try something new, Maria was able to not only attract new customers but also increase sales and build brand awareness. The workshops gained popularity quickly and established Maria's boutique as a destination for vintage styling tips and inspiration. Her boutique is a destination for customers who were looking for more than just clothing, but also inspiration and creativity.

That great thing about creativity, it’s repeatable. Maria’s next mini-C idea is focused on personal styling guidance. This mini-C idea is transforming into a little-C innovation of personalized styling services where customers consult with Maria to create a unique and personalized look.

Submitted by Dr. Marc Miller, Dean of the School of Business and Health Administration.

Apple, Vintage Clothing, and the Business Model Canvas

In Marc Miller’s post “Growing your small business with innovation and creativity,” Dr. Miller introduced you to Maria’s vintage clothing store. He shared how the introduction of styling workshops into Maria’s business model increased her sales. From his post, we learned how an engaged and enthusiastic group of stylists, fashion bloggers, and customers increased word-of-mouth advertising. Maria’s approach to growing sales touched on three important blocks from the customer acquisition section of the Business Model Canvas. They are customer segments, channels, and customer relationships. As a refresher, customer segments are those customers that have an interest in buying your company’s products or services. Channels are the various methods your company uses to communicate with customers and increase brand awareness. Customer relationships are the interactions between your company and your customers. Now, let us learn why this approach is good practice.

In his book about the innovation secrets of Steve Jobs and Apple, Carmine Gallo identifies seven principles of success. Two important secrets Gallo shares are to “sell dreams, not products” and “create insanely great experiences.”  While I am sure Maria’s business includes both secrets, let us explore Maria’s approach to creating insanely great experiences. The idea of selling dreams instead of products might be easier to do in the clothing industry. Clothing does make us feel good about ourselves. It allows us to change our identity, express our creativity, or make a statement. Maria’s style workshops enhance this feeling by allowing customers to co-create their own designs. This co-creation activity strengthens the experience through interaction and increases value. Maria’s approach creates a wonderful experience her customers remember.

Her workshops are personal, highly interactive design sessions that build a community of enthusiasts. She creates “insanely great experiences.”  If you are thinking about ways your business could create “insanely great experiences,” you may want to follow other advice by Gallo.

Guide to Successful Customer Interactions

  1. Design uncluttered stores – keep things simple and clean,
  2. Locate stores where people live their lives – be visible and present,
  3. Allow customers to test-drive products – let them experience the value,
  4. Offer concierge experiences – make suggestions,
  5. Make it easy to buy – adopt one-click options, and
  6. Offer one-to-one training – show them how to use your service.

Maria’s vintage clothing store certainly focused on the guidance in 3,4 and 6.  But, you do not need to sell vintage clothing, or have physical retail space, to take advantage of this advice. Whether you have a physical storefront or a digital one, paying attention to these six guides can make all the difference in developing a customer community that are enchanted and serve as evangelists for your brand.

Dr. James Blackburn, Associate Provost, Academic Innovation, Middle Georgia State University

Profit, People, and Planet – Social Entrepreneurship

Almost thirty years ago, John Elkington coined the phrase the “triple bottom line.” His goal was to broaden business’ narrow focus on profit to a view that included the long-term impact on people and the planet.  Elkington (2018) writes, it was “intended as a genetic code, a triple helix of change for tomorrow’s capitalism, with a focus on breakthrough change, disruption, asymmetric growth… and the scaling of next generation market solutions.” The triple bottom line was a call for company leaders to accept the responsibility as stewards to improve the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.

Meet 4 Ocean

4 Ocean is a for-profit, ocean cleanup company based out of Boca Raton, Florida and is listed as a Public Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corporation. Public Benefit Corporations are created with the purpose of improving societal and environmental problems. In 4 Ocean’s case, their company’s purpose is toacts “harness the power of business to fund a global cleanup operation that’s responsible for recovering millions of pounds of plastic and trash from the world’s oceans, rivers, and coastlines.  4 Ocean is one example of a new type of for-profit business, driven by social entrepreneurs focused on social and environmental good for people and planet, while making a profit.  Let’s learn more about social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Vercher, Bosworth and Esparcia (2023) recommend social innovators and entrepreneurs start with community needs when developing a business idea.  Since most social innovations seek to alter the course of an existing process or pattern, certain knowledge about the area in need of change is required to facilitate the change.  Technology can be an accelerator of change.  Considering how technology can be used to address the needs should be part of the strategy.   Let’s examine 4 Ocean’s strategy on facilitating change.

Market Needs

4 Ocean has identified a specific community need that drives the core of their business operations.  The company believes plastic pollution is an interconnected threat that damages the health of the ocean the limits the ability for those who rely on the oceans to make a living.


At the heart of social innovation is a change in consumer or community beliefs and actions.  4 Ocean believes the “best way to clean the ocean is by preventing plastic pollution in the first place. (Mission, n.d.)  In addition to cleaning up the oceans, the company also educates and advocates for the reduction in plastic.


Plastic recovery and recycling are the core functions of the company’s operations.  Technology innovations allow for increases in effectiveness and efficiency.  Once the plastic is recovered, the plastic is recycled into plastic bracelets that serve as symbols of the social movement and fund future operations.  For every bracelet sold, one pound of plastic is removed from the oceans and waterways.

4 Ocean’s strategy of selling products that allow its customers and supporters to contribute to the planet friendly mission of the company, while at the same time, joining a larger social movement that acts against climate change and pollution.

Submitted by Dr. James Blackburn, Associate Provost, Academic Innovation, Middle Georgia State University


Elkington, J. (2018, June 25). 25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase “Triple Bottom Line.” Here’s Why It’s Time to Rethink It. Harvard Business Review.

Mission. (n.d.). 4ocean. Retrieved May 8, 2023, from

Vercher, N., Bosworth, G., & Esparcia, J. (2023). Developing a framework for radical and incremental social innovation in rural areas. Journal of Rural Studies, 99, 233–242.

The Entrepreneurs’ Hats: Too Many are Bad for Business

You have heard this phrase before. You might have even uttered it. When entrepreneurs are asked what they do, they frequently reply, “everything, I wear many different hats.” It’s true, entrepreneurs wear different hats, especially in the early days of their businesses. However, not all the hats fit well. If the hat is too large, it’s likely to fall and block our vision. If it’s too small, it blows off at the slightest headwind. Wearing a baseball cap to a snowball fight could lead to frostbitten ears.

Finding the right hat, especially the one that fits, is critical to success in business. During the recent Entrepreneurship workshops, I recommended that all new business owners approach their business venture from a team perspective. Entrepreneurs that establish a team to work on the business are more successful. One reason for this success is because the expertise, experience, and skills of a team are greater than the sole entrepreneur. You might say, a team allows the entrepreneur to distribute the hats based on fit. Patrick Lencioni, author of twelve best-selling books, suggests in his book The Six Types of Working Genius that each of us have a working genius, a working competency, and a working frustration. Lencioni suggests our working genius includes tasks that we are remarkable at and could spend all our time doing. We should spend most of our time doing tasks within our working genius. He adds our working competency comprises tasks we are good at and don’t mind doing. We all can be very productive and happy working in this area as well. However, Lencioni believes we should avoid work included in our working frustration. Our work frustration includes tasks we don’t like to do and are resent doing. While our workday will often require us to work in this space occasionally, we should avoid it as much as possible. Otherwise, we will suffer from a loss of motivation and satisfaction with our work.

Six Types of Genius

Wonder, invention, discernment, galvanizing, enablement, and tenacity are all descriptors of genius. As previously discussed, it is unlikely any one person is a genius in all these areas. Wonder and invention fall into the ideation genius group. The ideation group is where innovative ideas are generated. Discernment and galvanizing are included in the activation genius group. This group focuses on converting ideas into actionable steps. Finally, the implementation group includes the geniuses of enablement and tenacity. This final group of geniuses focuses on the execution and delivery of the product or service. Where does your genius lay?

  • Wonder geniuses ask thought-proving questions that illuminate the current situation and highlight opportunities.
  • Invention geniuses generate innovative ideas and solutions to solve problems.
  • Discernment geniuses use instinct, intuition, and judgement to assess an idea or situation without the benefit of data or expertise.
  • Galvanizing geniuses rally staff around an idea and motivate them towards action.
  • Enablement geniuses provide support to staff during the operations phase and help them achieve their goals.
  • Tenacity geniuses are great at pushing solutions to completion.

Lencioni suggests workers have at least two geniuses, two competencies, and two frustrations. Success in business requires long hours and challenging work. Finding your genius allows you to wear the right hat and outsource the others.

Dr. James Blackburn, Associate Provost, Academic Innovation, Middle Georgia State University

Moats, Boats, and GOATS: Setting your Business Up for Success

I first met Gregg when he was the CEO of Core3, an outsourcing and staffing support firm for financial aid offices at colleges. After a successful engagement ended, we continued to stay in touch – sharing ideas and insights – looking for the next opportunity to work together. Gregg was always great at listening to the needs of industry – and as a reward for his effort - the next opportunity was clearly knocking at his door. Back in the early 2010’s, the largest pain in financial aid was a process called verification.  It was a pain for both colleges and students. Verification is a form of audit that is needed for about 30% of the students applying for financial aid. Verification is complicated, and in more cases than desired, causes students to abandon their dream of a college degree. We both knew, if we could solve this problem, tens of thousands of students could pursue brighter futures.  

In a recent workshop on business model creation, participants learned that “Big Ideas” need to reduce a customer’s pain, offer customer gains, or replace a customer’s work. A solution for the verification problem would reduce pain for both colleges and students. However, this great idea alone would not ensure success. The idea must be realistic, operational, and scalable.  The big idea must include a plan that breaks down barriers to market entry and captures market share away from the incumbents in the industry. The big idea must deliver exceptional value to its customers. Campus Logic’s solution for reducing the pain of verification was novel and adds value. 

In a recent LinkedIn post, Gregg Scoresby suggested entrepreneurs seeking investment capital should adopt a Moats, Boats, and GOATS mindset. Gregg points out that successful companies, over time, build Moats around their castle of operations to protect them from competitors.  He recommends start-ups, who don’t have the luxury of Moats, should focus on Boats instead.  Boats allow a start-up company to break through defenses of and capture market share from well-established companies.  The technology-enabled verification tool is a great idea and could prove a valuable boat. Would it be enough?

Great ideas don’t always lead to market success. It takes hard work and talent.  Borrowing from the sports world, Gregg suggests the entrepreneur must have the drive to make the new company the GOAT or “greatest of all time.”  The entrepreneur must have a work ethic that will grow a fledgling start-up into a $100m business. The company must have a business plan that shows a growth trajectory that includes how the business will either capture existing market share from the competitors or tap into a “blue ocean” opportunity.  It must have a leader that puts the growth of the company above all other interests.

As it turns out, Gregg certainly embraced the Boats, Moats, and GOATS mindset. Campus Logic, formed in 2011, focused on simplifying the financial aid verification process through technology. Over a decade later, the company has grown to include multiple product lines with a customer-base of over 800 colleges and universities. The company was recently acquired by Ellucian, a provider of technology solutions to the Higher Education sector.  Now, he is focused on transferring his knowledge and experience growing companies to other entrepreneurs.

Submitted by Dr. James Blackburn, Associate Provost, Academic Innovation, Middle Georgia State University

The Circular Economy - The Great Bubble Barrier

During a recent visit to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, I learned how plastic pollution in our oceans are negatively impacting sea turtles. Turtles lucky enough to make it to the center will eventually be released back to the ocean. Unfortunately, not all turtles are lucky. Research on Sea Turtles suggest 52% of turtles ingest plastics. Once a turtle ingests 14 or more pieces of plastic, the mortality rate increases to 50%. Sea turtle mortality rates climb rapidly as the turtle ingest more plastic (Wilcox et al., 2018). While plastics aren’t the only injury for turtles at the center, injuries and deaths caused by plastics can be eliminated. 50-75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics pollute the world’s oceans today. 80% of the pollution in the oceans flows from rivers. Estimates show 8 to 10 million metric tons of plastic pollution from rivers are added to the oceans each year (Fava, 2022, May 9), increasing the likelihood that sea turtles will mistake plastic for food.

The Great Bubble Barrier, a start-up in The Netherlands, offers an innovative approach to plastic pollution. It creates “a bubble curtain by pumping air through a perforated tube on the bottom of the [river].  The bubble curtain creates an upward current which directs plastics to the surface. By placing the Bubble Barrier diagonally across the river, the natural flow of the water will push the plastic waste to the side and into the catchment system. The catchments system is designed to work in harmony with the bubble curtain to collect and retain plastics. Following collection, it will be removed for processing and reuse (The Great Bubble Barrier-A smart solution to plastic pollution, n.d.).”  Using a gate-keeper approach, The Great Bubble Barrier is trying to reduce plastic pollution by collecting the pollution before it reaches the ocean.

Over a six-month pilot, the company’s Bubble Barrier removed 86% of plastic debris, approximately 8,000 pieces of plastic each month. The plastic removed from the river ranged from 1mm to 1m in size. Common trash such as straws, cups, and bottles were removed. Uncommon products like windsurfing boards, chairs, and Christmas trees were also removed by the Bubble Barrier. Clearly, Bubble Barriers are an effective solution that has the potential to eliminate plastic pollution. However, the harmonious relationship between the approach and the natural and synthetic ecosystems may be even more valuable to the company. The Bubble Barrier runs continuously, does not impede watercraft or fish traffic, is safe for fish and other wildlife, and oxygenates rivers to reduce algae.  The Bubble Barriers create a win-win choice that is likely to reduce resistance, thus greatly enhancing scalability and environmental impact. Everyone wins – even the sea turtles.

What we have learned over the decades is a great idea rarely gains market share without effective management. If you are interested in solving a similar problem, and you have a creative solution to improve your community, you may want to use The Great Bubble Barrier’s approach to managing projects. They use a four-stage process to manage projects. The stages are:

  1. Preliminary Research – find a location suitable for the solution, evaluate costs, and find partners for the solution.
  2. Realization – customize the solution design based on the characteristics of the ecosystem.
  3. Operation – develop and launch the solution using project planning and management approach.
  4. Maintenance – schedule and perform routine maintenance to ensure continuous operation.

What’s not mentioned in The Great Barrier Bubbles approach, and one I highly recommend, is data collection and sharing.  During the pilot, the company collected data on the effectiveness of its Bubble Barriers. This data was instrumental in telling their story. As you move forward with your change projects, collecting and sharing your data will be beneficial to your cause as well. Data on the effectives of your solutions will show stakeholders their investment is making a significant difference. Collecting and sharing data is an effective strategy for increasing stakeholder engagement. In any social benefit endeavor, data-storytelling is a requirement for long-term success.

The Great Bubble Barrier is a Greentech company focused on three of the United Nations’ sustainability goals of #6 Clean Water and Sanitation, #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, and #14 Life Below Water. Learn more about the United Nations’ sustainability goals through the link on this website. 

Submitted by Dr. James Blackburn, Associate Provost, Academic Innovation, Middle Georgia State University and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Fava, M. F. (2022, May 9). Plastic pollution in the ocean: Data, facts, consequences. Ocean Literacy Portal.

The Great Bubble Barrier—A smart solution to plastic pollution. (n.d.). The Great Bubble Barrier®. Retrieved July 24, 2023, from

Wilcox, C., Puckridge, M., Schuyler, Q. A., Townsend, K., & Hardesty, B. D. (2018). A quantitative analysis linking sea turtle mortality and plastic debris ingestion. Scientific Reports, 8(1), Article 1.

Neo, the Matrix, and Data Visualization

Olivia Marshall, the president of GraphixText, was staring at her computer screen like Neo studying the 1’s and 0’s in the Matrix. Searching for patterns in the data, she grouped numbers into tables and tables into charts, yet actionable insights remained hidden in this digital labyrinth. The challenge was clear - turn chaos into order and the truth will be revealed.  She thought to herself, “if only it was as simple as taking Neo’s red pill.”

The ability to present data in a clear, compelling manner isn't just useful—it's a necessity in today's data-driven world.  With an ever-increasing amount of data being collected, the need for clear communication between analysts and stakeholders becomes critical. Enter the intriguing marriage between data visualization and storytelling. This blog post will delve into why these two elements are crucial in modern data communication and how you can master the art of transforming raw data into compelling stories.

Data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data using various elements such as charts, graphs, and maps. Visualizations allow viewers to understand complex data sets by organizing and representing the information in a clear, visual way. However, this is not merely an aesthetic exercise; it's about extracting meaning from data.

Meaning Extraction

Extracting meaning from data is a multi-faceted process that goes far beyond crunching numbers and creating visual representations. The objective is to unearth actionable insights that can inform decision-making, predict outcomes, and identify trends or anomalies. This requires a comprehensive approach, starting with data collection and data cleansing, then moving onto exploratory analysis. At this stage, statisticians and data scientists may employ a range of techniques, from descriptive statistics to machine learning models, to get a comprehensive understanding of what the data is saying. Data visualization tools can also assist in this endeavor by making complex relationships more understandable and identifying patterns that may not be immediately obvious.

However, the most critical aspect of extracting meaning from data is interpretation, which often requires a nuanced understanding of the context in which the data exists. For instance, a sudden spike in social media mentions might initially appear as a positive development for a brand, but further investigation may reveal that this uptick is due to negative publicity.

Similarly, a decrease in website visits could be worrisome, but if the engagement levels are higher among the remaining visitors, the story changes completely. Context, expertise, and analytical thinking are indispensable for correctly interpreting data, as they provide the lens through which raw numbers become actionable insights. Visualization guru Edward Tufte indicates that "excellence in statistical graphics consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency".

So, are stories Neo’s red pill for data visualization? Stay tuned to find out.

Submitted by Dr. Marc Miller, Dean of the School of Business and Health Administration