The fundamentals of Management Information – M
A means of visualization with a real “wow” effect – sometimes, however, with limitations in readability and integrity. Maps are good when you cannot assume that the geography is known, for example, because someone may be interested in a breakdown by city districts. When areas are colored in a map, however, it can lead to distortions because the largest space always appears to be the most important one. It is also notoriously difficult to position columns, bars, circles, etc. in their exact locations because not every geographical unit can offer the necessary space. Maps can be difficult to read when their elements overlap. If you want to show revenues by country, a simple ranking is often the better alternative. As Bella once said, you don’t need to show anyone where England is. With DeltaMaster, you can elegantly handle maps in many different formats. Two highlights include using maps as → small multiples and geographic drill-downs.
The largest value of a series. If the maximum is far from the next value, it is often an → outlier. If so, you will need to decide how you should deal with it. Sometimes, absolute values are better than relative ones. A maximum value may be a sign that you need to clean up data. It can, however, also be a signal of things that were once possible and play a role in motivating staff or defining future targets.
The average. The mean is susceptible to outliers while the → median is more robust.
The mid value of a series. The more skewed the distribution of values is, the more the median differs from the average. Outliers distort the average; the median, however, is more typical and robust. In DeltaMaster, we try to visualize all values because as the importance of the median and average decrease, the more the values are skewed around them. You can see that immediately with just a glance.
A form of → app-ification. Displaying or querying data to manage your business on the go. Today, mobile BI has more to do with the output device than the location because more and more companies are working with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. If reports are supposed to be equally attractive on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, the design has to suit varying screen sizes, typical attention spans, expectations for interaction, reading distances, screen contrasts, and light quality. While DeltaMaster creates reports for tablets in landscape format and with “swiping” functions, it creates ones that you can operate with your thumb in portrait format for smartphones. We have developed a smart “layering” technique to ensure that everything fits together.
The use of raw data using analytical perspectives from the point of view of management (areas of action). It can be supported by → AI, for example by identifying data fields, data types, terms, hierarchies, and aggregates and by allocating cumulation functions to types of KPIs or classifying KPIs. It is increasingly feasible for business users and management thanks to → Self-Service BI.
Flickering that occurs in raster patterns. This effect limits the use of shading in charts and → sparklines. DeltaMaster suggests using shaded columns as a → notation for forecast values. We designed them, however, so that they don’t flicker.
A chart used to show frequency distribution. These types of charts display frequency as an area. They look interesting but are difficult to understand because you need to compare areas, which is no easy task for your eyes. Bella feels that mosaic displays are worse than radar charts and suggests using → graphic tables instead.
Necessary for taking actions. The goal of every good report is to be read, understood, and taken into consideration. We call this a “Look, see, do” process. That isn’t a problem when you are dealing with intrinsic motivation. Most times, however, people only take action when they are directly affected. That is why it is so important for reports to make it past the points of seeing and understanding, and why we feel that every pixel should be taken so seriously. DeltaMaster has formats that work with strong emotional signals and have a much stronger visual force as a result.
Still the most important but no longer the sole dominating way to operate a computer. You can use programs for management information and Business Intelligence on a desktop, in the Web, on tablets, or smartphones – in other words, using a mouse or your fingers – each with their own limitations. In the Web, you only have simple clicks. There is room for tooltips under your mouse pointer but not under your finger – and you can’t really tout the elegant drag-and-drop or mouse-wheel scroll features. As a general rule, the more platform-independent an application’s design is, the lower the common denominator will be as well. In DeltaMaster, we have taken a middle route and allow differences in usability when the paradigm and platform go hand in hand.