Part 07: Information visualization

Next step after understanding the business needs is that the information representation is easy and intuitive to understand and to monitor the goals. There are certain gurus out there who developed specific concepts in order to visualize data in a correct way. To famous guys are Stephen Few and Rolf Hichert. First is known in English speaking countries like United States and England. Business Intelligence Software vendors with headquarters in these countries sell their products with words like “you can even built dashboards like Stephen Few propagates”. Vendors with headquarters in Europe sell their products with sentences like “you can even built HICHERT charts and tables”, because Hicherts concept is most famous in Europe. To give a first impression how many possibilities are there to visualize data in a correct manner, I will visualize the dashboard of the shop management team. Here are the possible charts and tables.


Examples of possible visualization objects

I do not want to say that the tables and charts are right or wrong as well as that their design is good. I only want to show that I created four examples of legal ways to monitor data with different types of objects. And there are more than these four ways of doing it. If you do not know what you are doing you are getting lost in the universe of possibilities. But be aware that a good information presentations bases on best practices as well as on the monitored goal of the business process.

My personal proposal for this kind of visualization problem is a table or a graph. First, I will show the table which I would implement in Dashboard which gets new data every morning.

Good Deviation Table

Good Deviation Table

What you see is a title and two tables. The title describes the content of the tables. It is the company “ABC Company” and the “Toothpaste XYC” table. The Sales are in thousand US Dollars (kUSD) and it focuses on 2016. The tables contain data from all months in 2015 and for the first six months in 2016. At July 2016, the second half starts and therefore the specification of the Management: 50% increase in sales compared to 2015. What you see is that the sum of the first half 2016 is 22% under der value of 2015. The shop management team can now monitor the sales development daily in this dashboard. Behind the percentage Deviation, there is a Signal column which contains the specification. While in the first half minus was bad and growth above five percent was good, the growth of every month in second half has to be higher than 50 percent to get a green triangle.

The table visualization is simple but everyone can understand it fast and easy. The specification can be monitored without any additional effort.

Second is a chart combination. The first Chart is simple bar Chart, where the values of 2015 and 2016 are placed next to each other. Dark grey shows the data of 2016 and light grey 2015. The next chart is a bar chart which shows the absolute deviation. Last, the third one, shows the relative deviation and is known as “needle chart”. The “needle chart” is necessary to Show the possible increase in sales of 50%. If you want, you can add the a limit for the values like in the picture. It is not mandatory.

Good deviation chart

Good deviation Chart


About Tobias Riedner
Tobias Riedner foundet in 2015. He works and worked as innovator, consultant, analyst and educator in the fields of business intelligence and data warehousing. He learned a lot from the best consultants, managers und educators in the past and shares his knowledge worldwide. He works for a steady growing traditional company which is a leader in industry 4.0.