Charles Joseph Minard is arguably the world’s most famous data artist. By combining several data sets, including troop numbers, direction, temperature and terrain, he created in 1869 a visualization of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign. Though that military exercise ended in disaster, Minard’s map remains “one of the best statistical drawings ever created.”

Were he alive today, perhaps Minard would find success in the emerging role of data artist, thanks to the incredible volume and availability of data and the speed and processing power of modern technology. Today’s data artists bridge the gap between IT and business, creating visualizations from terabytes of obscure data that can quickly and easily be viewed and understood by business leaders to help accelerate decision-making and improve the odds of success.

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