A case in point: visual thinking tools have exploded in number and variety in the last year – over 70% growth, according to the 2023 Visual Thinking Tools Roadmap.
What’s driving this meteoric growth? In part, uncertainty in business is more than pervasive than ever. Under these circumstances, executives need to elevate their thinking. More specifically, they need to break out of habitual ways of thinking to consider new possibilities. They also need help communicating their ideas and plans with coworkers, stakeholders and others in clear and compelling ways. Visual thinking tools can help.
Unprecedented growth in visual thinking tools
Last year’s roadmap cataloged over 100 tools in 15 categories. This year’s diagram highlights over 170 tools in 21 categories – including over 40 AI-enhanced visual thinking tools! I believe this is a sign that visual thinking tools have reached an inflection point. A critical mass of developers and creative people who need new ways to capture, organize, distill and share ideas have realized they need better tools to do so.
New categories of tools in this year’s report include visual PKM (personal knowledge management) and visual task management, plus five new categories of AI-enhanced visual thinking tools:
- Mind mapping (AI)
- Diagramming (AI)
- Visual note-taking (AI)
- Visual whiteboard (AI)
- Presentations (AI)
The chart above compares the number of tools in each category from last year to this year. Big gainers include diagramming and visual-note-taking tools. Neither one is surprising. Diagramming tools are the Swiss Army Knives of presenting ideas visually offering their users numerous ways to visually share their ideas in striking ways.
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, visual note-taking tools help creative thinkers to capture their ideas in ways that make them easier to connect than popular linear note-taking tools. For a deeper dive into this category of visual thinking tools, see my report, The Ultimate Guide to Visual Note-Taking Tools.
The big surprise was AI-powered presentations, with over 20 new tools helping users speed the process of building decks to share their ideas with others. I guess this makes sense, because building presentations has always been a largely manual process. But I can’t imagine all of them surviving for more than a year or two. Like most software categories, users will gravitate toward those that provide the best workflow and most innovative features. The rest may slowly fade away as their user base and revenue dwindle.