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Data visualization opens new opportunities for CPAs

Written on Oct 5, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

The next time you have an important presentation, consider leveraging data visualization to make your session more impactful.  

“There's no real risk in trying things and learning new skills,” said Katie Liszewski, a cyber research scientist at Battle. “And then on top of it, you can really learn some valuable stuff.” 

Liszewski will present “Data Analysis, Dashboards and Presentation: Telling Your Story With Visualized Data” at the Ohio Accounting Shows. She will cover ways to develop data sets and presentations, the benefits of utilizing both online and offline open-source software and the resources needed to create compelling data visualizations. 

While Liszewski’s background is as a mathematician and not an accountant, she said she understands the challenges CPAs face when working with clients or those outside of the profession.  

“We frequently have to interact with a stakeholder that doesn't have the same background as us,” she said. “You have to reach out to your audience and present things in ways they will understand. And you have to learn their language and be able to have a conversation with them on their terms.”  

Liszewski said data visualization software options have become available, opening the possibilities of what professionals can show in presentations.  

The pandemic marked a significant shift in the use and development of data visualization, as interactive maps detailing new cases, vaccinations and other health information became popular.  

“That was a new interactive style presentation where you could click on a map, click on your area, and receive the latest information,” she said. “And that is all something that you can create in a couple of hours, using open-source software. And present that type of visualization to help people make their decisions.”  

The interactivity of the dashboards allows the presenter to pull up a range of dynamic information as the conversation naturally progresses, allowing the presenter to be more agile and impactful.  

“This speaks to your adaptability and your knowledge of the subject, and also allows you to convey your information much more effectively,” Liszewski said.  

Some of the software Liszewski plans to touch on includes TensorFlow and OpenCV. She said in recent years the integration with this software and varying data points has gotten more seamless and much easier to work with.  

And while data visualization can be an impactful way to enhance the presentation, Liszewski said ultimately it comes down to knowing your audience, and data visualization can help you get there.  

“You really have to tailor your presentation to your audience, you're not presenting to yourself,” she said. “Get into their headspace and decide what they see as valuable and how they're going to interact with the data.” 

Register for the Ohio Accounting Shows on Oct. 25-26 and Nov. 15-16 now! 

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