The reason why we visualize data is that we communicate. For the purpose of Business Communication, it means the materialization (e.g. paper, screen views) of quantitative information for analytical and reporting objectives. In this sense, business communication is organized into products (e.g. reports and presentations), consisting of one or more pages (e.g. PowerPoint slides) comprised of objects (e.g. charts and tables) with both specific elements (e.g. columns, axes, labels, etc.) and general elements (e.g. titles, comments).
Assembling one or more pages into a report or presentation creates a (communication) product.
Reports are written documents with a predetermined, consistently applied formal structure such as
- Statutory annual and quarterly reports
- Management reports
- Project reports
- Decision memos
- Records, minutes, proceedings
Interpretations and summaries by the authors are mandatory parts of any report. Reports report something; they are written to convey messages to defined addressees.
Presentations are formal verbal communications concerning situations such as
- Status of projects
- Interpretations of current financial figures
- Speeches on the business outlook
- Preparation stages in the decision-making process for major investments
Interpretations and summaries by the authors are mandatory parts of any presentation. Addressing only the material used in presentations (presentation material), the IBCS standards take into account the design of the slides projected during the presentation and the handouts distributed before or after the presentation. In this sense, presentations are a short form for presentation material.
Statistics – in contrast to reports – are data compilations without messages by the authors. Statistics do not make use of charts and tables to support a given message, rather they aid in finding a message, demanding active search and analysis by the users. In general, comprehensive statistics have a detailed list of contents but lack a summary. In practice, no clear border exists between reports and statistics.
Interactive analytic systems (also called management information systems, executive information systems, decision support systems, and reporting systems) are compilations of interactive statisticscovering a certain business topic (e.g. analysis of sales). Similar to statistics, these software solutions do not make use of charts and tables to support a given message, rather they aid in finding a message, demanding active search and analysis by the users. Interactive analytic systems are being built using information technology like analytic databases and business intelligence software. Dashboards are pages of an interactive analytic system designed to achieve a high rate of visual perception: the time necessary for the reader to oversee und understand the situation illustrated by the charts and tables of a dashboard is a valid quality criterion. Similar to a car dashboard, it should support the reader (driver) in understanding the situation within very short time.
The charts, tables, texts and pictures posted on a page are called (communication) objects. Communication objects represent an analytic view of a situation and can stand alone with or without a corresponding message. When people think about visualization, they think about tables or charts used in a dashboard.
The next blog entries will describe the usage of communication products and objects as well as the notation guideline approach and who it has developed in the past.
About Tobias Riedner
Tobias Riedner foundet WYCDWD.com 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.