Business Reporting, Visual Analytics & Dashboards (Limits of short…
Business Reporting, Visual Analytics & Dashboards
- Purpose - to improve managerial decisions
- Source - data from inside and outside the organisation
- Format - text, tables, graphs / charts
- Distribution - in-print, email, portal / intranet
What is Data Visualization
- The use of visual representation to explore, make sense of, and communicate data
- Provide insights into complex data sets by communicating key information in more intuitive and meaningful ways
- An intersection of the fields of communication, information and scientific visualization, statistical graphics and design
Visual Analytics - Information visualization + predictive analytics
Information Visualization - Descriptive, what happened?
Predictive analytics - Future focused, What will happen?
- Display Media
are used to present and convey
information in a meaningful way
- Navigation and Container Components
group and display other components
- Selector Components
are used to create visualization with multiple options to select from
are used to draw attention to specific item that
has reached a pre‐defined limit (e.g. budgets or
benchmarks, plan data, etc.)
Commonly used in Business Performance Management (BPM) software suites and BI platforms
Dashboards provide visual displays of important information that is consolidated and arranged on a single screen so that information can be digested at a single glance and easily drilled in and further explored
Types of Data
Nominal, ordinal, interval
Revenue, Sales, Costs, Quantity
Types of Dashboards
- Dashboards for Strategic Purposes (Monitoring)
- Focus on high‐level measures of performance
- Indicators of performance
- Contextual information
- Don’t require real‐time data, static snapshots will do
- Dashboards for Analytical Purposes (Analysis)
- Should support interactions with the data (e.g. drill‐down)
- Show patterns for further exploration (find out causes)
- More sophisticated display media
- Dashboards for Operational Purposes (Managing)
- Real‐time information is needed for constantly changing environment
- Must grab attention immediately to alert abnormalies
- Deeper level of details is needed – can be accessed by drilling down
- Icons are simple images that communicate a clear and simple meaning (e.g. Alert, Up/Down, On/Off)
- Alert Icons : draw attention to a specific item that has reached a pre‐defined limit (e.g. budgets or benchmarks, plan data, etc.)
- Must be simple and noticeable.
- Limit alert levels to a maximum of two and ideally one.
- Common alert scheme uses the traffic light metaphor composed of 3 colours for 3 meaning. Green typically used to indicate that all is well
- A single shape such as circle or square involving distinct intensities of the same hue works best.
- Up / Down Icons ‐ convey simple message on whether a measure has gone up or down as compared to some point in the past or the target.
- On/Off Icons – serve as flags to identify some items as different from others
- Text - some information has to be encoded as text.
- Images - photos, illustrations, diagrams, Unnecessary for most typical business uses
- Drawing Objects
- Useful for arranging and connecting pieces of information. Examples:
- displaying information about activities in a process or tasks in a project
- Hierarchical relationship in an organisation chart
- Organisers - Sets of information need to be arranged in a particular manner to communicate clearly.
- Three ways of organising and arranging information:
Spatial maps - for finding meaning for spatially distributed data
Small multiples - Series of horizontally aligned small multiples display revenue split between 3 sales channels. - To eliminate redundancy, avoid repeating the region labels, legend and overall title for each chart
Display media for dashboards
- Graphs - Visualize quantitative data, e.g. one single key measure or data series
- Images - Useful if images provide additional information
- Icons - Visualization of alerts or status (e.g. on/off)
- Drawing objects - Arrange and connect different elements on the dashboards, e.g. to visualize processes or hierarchical relationships between elements
- Text - Used for labels or to report single measures on the dashboard
- Organizers - Arrange related business information, e.g. as tables or geographically in maps
What to look for in a dashboard?
- Use of visual components to highlight data and exceptions that require action.
- Transparent to the user, meaning that they require minimal training and are extremely easy to use
- Combine data from a variety of systems into a single, summarized, unified view of the business
- Enable drill‐down or drill‐through to underlying data sources or reports
- Present a dynamic, real‐world view with timely data
- Require little coding to implement, deploy, and maintain
Effective Dashboard Display Media
- Select the best display medium
- Should the information be encoded as text, graphics or both?
- Strength of words and numbers: precision
- Strength of graphics: patterns
- An ideal library of dashboard display media
Bar and Column Graphs
Stacked bar / column graphs
- Display multiple instances / measures rather than single instance /
- Great for displaying measures associated with items in a category (e.g. regions, departments)
- Good for displaying multiple instances of whole and its parts with emphasis on the whole but is harder to read
Combination bar and line graphs: Pareto Chart
- Reveal shape of data, trends, fluctuations, cycles, rates of change
- Best for time‐series data
- Present overall picture rather than detail values:
- Is it going up or down?
- Is it volatile?
- Does it go through seasonal cycles?
- Figure shows same data plotted using 2 different charts
- Which chart allows us to see the trend quickly and clearly?
- In what aspect is the bar chart better than the line chart?
- Should we adjust the scale for the y‐axis of the bar chart?
- Is it alright for the scale of the line graph to start from 45,000 instead of 0? Why do we want to do so?
- Good use of combination bar and line graphs:
- some data can be best displayed using bars and
- some using lines (see shape of data, trend)
- Individual values displayed as columns
- Cumulative total of values displayed as a line
What it shows?
- Slope of line: the steeper the line, the greater the sub‐category’s revenue was relative to the next best sub‐category
- Line shows how evenly distributed the contributions of the sub‐category are or how much they are skewed towards the top sub‐categories.
- Good for analyzing 80‐20 Rule
- Box plots are good for describing distribution of data, median, range of values
Graphs that are not suitable for dashboards
- Display whether or not and the direction and degree that 2 paired sets of quantitative values are correlated.
- Scatter plots involving more than 1 set of data
- Scatter plot shown below compares the correlation of number of ads and monthly revenue for TV ads and Radio ads
- Scatter plot exhibits a curve rather linear correlation between the
- Area charts – prone to inaccurate interpretation and often to occlusion (object is hidden entirely or in part behind another)
– photos, illustrations, diagrams
– Unnecessary for most typical business uses
- Selector components let you create interactive dashboards with multiple selections
- Radio Button: users can select from a horizontal or vertical group of selections
- Combo Box: provides a vertical list of items, when it is clicked, users can select an item from the list
- Accordion Menu: provides a two‐level menu, users first select a category and then select items within that particular category
Best Practices in Dashboard Design
- Benchmark KPIs with industry standards
- Validate the design by a usability specialist
- Prioritize and rank alerts and exceptions
- Enrich dashboard with business‐user comments
- Present information in three different levels
- Pick the right visual constructs
- Provide for guided analytics
Expression of Data
- Variations in Timing - Timeframe determined by objectives of dashboard
Examples: This year / quarter / month / week to date
- Enrichment through comparison - Provide context: eg this year vs last year
- Enrichment through evaluation -
- Quick evaluation of whether data is good or bad
- Usually encoded as visual objects (e.g. traffic light)
- Serves as alerts on state of measures
- Should not have too many states for the data
- Non-Quantitative Dashboard data - Examples: Top 10 customers, Issues to be investigated, schedules, due dates, etc