Not sure how and why I've missed this publication for so long but today I've come across Information Age magazine having unearthed links to a couple of very interesting articles which I recommend you read.
Firstly, one published today entitled "The Analytical Eye" talks about the as-yet untapped potential of data visualisation across business. It contains discussions with Stephen Few, Jock Mackinlay and Pat Hanrahan so you can be sure it is a sound and well-informed read. Here's a couple of excerpts:
Tools that exploit the human visual system's ability to process information can help unlock workers’ untapped powers of analysis
...while histograms, line charts and scatter plots are to be found everywhere in working life, the full potential of the visual system not only to understand but also to analyse information is still underused by business information systems, from desktop spreadsheet software to million-pound business intelligence architectures.
Secondly, "The Shape of Things to Come" describes Gartner’s latest focus which involves using pattern seeking approaches to support proactive strategic decisions:
There is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a long list of technologies that Gartner claims can help organisations achieve and execute a pattern-based strategy.“Visualisation techniques enable humans to recognise patterns, because pattern recognition is very visual in nature,” explains Genovese. Also on the list is social media analysis, which allows businesses to use patterns in customer sentiment as a lead indicator for changes in commercial activity, and predictive analytics.