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?
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
- 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.)
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
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
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
- 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
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
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
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