The fundamentals of management information – I
Symbols used as operational elements. Icons are good if you already know them. If you have to learn them first, a simple text is much easier. Some icons become ludicrous over time. The 3.5” disk symbol is still a relic in Microsoft Office long after its demise. In DeltaMaster, we use icons as little as possible.
Highly automated, data-driven reporting that has many parallels to industrial manufacturing. Many steps are standardized; reports are produced at low costs in consistent quality. The prerequisite for industrial reporting is the use of → graphic tables. The counterpart to industrial reporting is something we call „consultant reporting“. This approach makes sense for special presentations such as annual shareholders’ meetings where the time it takes to produce them is not an issue and you intentionally select the data to portray a specific message. DeltaMaster, in contrast, is built to delegate as many routine tasks to the computer as possible and produce data-driven reports to objectively show the current business reality and transform it into clear signals.
A complex combination of text, numbers, images, and → charts. The mass media frequently uses infographics that are often on the borderline to infotainment. Bella is a bit wary of them because they often lack integrity. Their wide distribution, however, has shaped the expectations and habits with regards to visualization in companies as well. Sometimes, a lack of integrity even has the power to cause economic damage. This was the case with the recently published „chart of doom“.
Business Intelligence in its fastest form. Sometimes projects take longer than an urgent problem lasts in the first place. In these cases, we recommend a “bypass” of sorts. The operational units enter important data for management in a simple data entry template through the Web – ignoring, at first, the risk of redundancies. The data lands in a cube designed for data entry. Report jobs ensure that management receives the desired information, if needed, in → real time. DeltaMaster supports instant BI.
Rules that let data in charts look the way it should. There is a lot that can go wrong when you encode data as a graphic – even among professionals and high-circulation media. Yet these so-called “standards” often become common practices in companies. Bella has collected countless examples that show what all can go awry. Most of the problems have to do with the → scale. Times series are especially prone to false presentations. Some of them are downright spectacular. DeltaMaster has patented methods to correctly visualize data, for example, for comparable scales of time series and special chart types for complex visual tasks such as dealing with → size breaks.
Dialogue with the computer with the help of a mouse, keyboard, or finger gestures. Interaction is often necessary if we want to truly understand something. The longer the interaction takes, however, the greater the risk for distraction is. This has to do with → change blindness. Previously, companies would brag how their managers can access the information they need on their own every day. Meanwhile, we know having “information at their fingertips” is straining for managers. That’s why we strive to use as little interaction in our software as possible to create a maximum effect with minimal clicks. DeltaMaster, for example, uses navigation methods that explain variances quickly (→ variance analysis).