The fundamentals of Management Information – O
Too seldom used in the past but key to boosting success with business intelligence. Management information should be action-oriented, in keeping with the idea of “continuous intelligence” (Gartner) or our motto “look, see, do”. Numbers make life particularly difficult for the brain. We make things easier if the processes from which these numbers originate are visualized while they can still be influenced. This makes digital numbers analog, catching our attention at an earlier stage. We pursue this idea in a number of different ways, from signals that are literally cast at your feet by projectors to → tickers, → control centers and → war rooms.
Online Analytical Processing. This type of multidimensional data storage delivers fast answers for typical business questions. OLAP supports different storage concepts, especially with regards to writing back data in → planning scenarios. Typically, data is extracted from an ERP system, processed, structured for analytics, and stored in one or more cubes for later access. Time will tell if in-memory databases can handle multidimensional data comfortably. DeltaMaster can also run on relational databases but its typical usage scenario is for OLAP analysis, planning, and reporting.
Keeping everything important on a single page. One-pagers are highly coveted by managers and casual report consumers alike due to information overload. They often contain → gauges, which we don’t think are appropriate for displaying management information, and are called → dashboards. Implementing them, however, is tricky because having everything on a single page doesn’t mean having everything at a glance. The human eye inevitably compares whatever stands next to each other (see → eyespan). One-pagers place topics and charts that have nothing to do with each other next to each other. That is terribly confusing. You can make one-pagers that are viewed daily a bit more complex because the readers quickly learn where they can find what. For occasional usage, however, one-pagers quickly get too complicated because so many different topics on a page overwhelm your readers. To stay on the safe side in reporting, we recommend focusing on one topic per page. When you change the page, therefore, you change the topic as well, which makes things easier to understand. In DeltaMaster, you can build one-pagers with the Combination Cockpit module – and would be happy to support you with our experience.
Often prematurely shunted off as a job for the design team (“UI”) or marketing (“UX”). For it to work, it must be closely linked to the → evaluation logic. The brain processes numbers in sequence, but users are normally presented with multiple operating options at the same time. This shifts the focus of our attention and lowers its capacity. We counter this with the concept of → haptic reasoning, where thinking about numbers and operation literally go hand in hand.
Always a problem because they skew the chart. Oftentimes they are just accounting errors or, in the case of relative variances, artifacts. Sometimes, however, they represent the information that really should be reported. Reports should display interesting outliers in the proper proportion to the other values and omit those that are not interesting all together. Differentiating these types of outliers, however, is an art of own. → Logarithmic scales, which are still often underestimated, are helpful when displaying outliers. You should avoid references to hidden values because they simply direct the reader’s attention to something you wanted to hide in the first place. In DeltaMaster, we worked hard to find a way to deal with outliers that met our requirements – and have been successful in doing so.