The scale for a graph axis can have significant impact on how an audience interprets a message and is an important part of optimising data visualisation.

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Metapraxis MD Simon Bittlestone on what the WPP story can tell us about effective global management, and how analytics can drive sustainable growth

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Simon Bittlestone, Managing Director, writes on markets and economics

Simon Bittlestone looks at how predictive analytics can be used to gain insight on the progress of industry trends and disruption

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Rachel Russell, Head of Client Service, writes on industry

Rachel Russell looks at the importance of scenario analysis in the energy sector, particularly in the context of potential regulatory change

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Snowy Mountains Image

Justin Duffy, Consulting Director, writes on management and strategy

Justin Duffy looks at how an effective strategic analytics approach depends for its success on appropriate performance metrics

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Rachel Russell, Head of Client Service, writes on industry

Rachel Russell looks at how automotive and other manufacturers can use strategic analytics to navigate disruptive trends in their industries

 

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John Masters, Technology Director, writes on innovation and technology

John Masters considers the FCA’s announcement that it will look at the use of big data in the insurance industry, and what that means for the sector’s use of analytics

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Rachel Russell, Head of Client Service, writes on industry

Following news that some major UK retailers will scale back Black Friday discounts, Rachel Russell looks at more effective approaches to short-term pricing

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Nicola Pastore, Commercial Manager, writes on finance and business planning

Following findings on the full impact of regulators’ sanctions, Nicola Pastore looks at different approaches to assessing regulatory compliance in banking

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John Masters, Technology Director, at Gartner Symposium

John Masters looks back at some of the discussions around the future of ERP at this year’s Gartner Symposium, and what they mean for business leaders

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Rachel Russell, Head of Client Service, from Gartner Symposium

Rachel Russell reflects on discussions around the insurance industry at Gartner Symposium, and where the sector could make better use of existing technology

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Andrew Mosely, Deputy Managing Director, at Gartner Symposium

Andrew Mosely looks at some of the discussions taking place around business intelligence applications at Gartner Symposium Barcelona

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Simon Bittlestone, Managing Director, at Gartner Symposium

Simon Bittlestone takes stock of the excitement around algorithms at Gartner Symposium, and demystifies some of the hype and hearsay around the term

 

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Nicola Pastore, Commercial Manager, writes on finance and business planning

Nicola Pastore looks at recent research on the overseas experience of CEOs, and the challenges of managing local units of a multinational organisation

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Rachel Russell, Head of Client Service, writes on industry

Rachel Russell looks at recent UK and US industry data, and explores how order book and sales pipeline analysis can help businesses respond to market trends.

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Mountains Images

Simon Bittlestone, Managing Director, writes on markets and economics

Simon Bittlestone looks at how processing industries can use simple predictive analytics to prepare themselves for cost changes in key raw materials.

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Andrew Mosely, Deputy Managing Director, writes on design and business analysis

Andrew Mosely looks at the impact of corporate inventories on the most recent US GDP figures, and explores a more objective approach to working capital management.

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Nicola Pastore, Commercial Manager, writes on finance and business planning

Ahead of next month’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Barcelona, Nicola Pastore looks at why analytics technology should be a key concern for business leaders in any industry.

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Rachel Russell, Head of Client Service, writes on industry

Rachel Russell looks at the how supply chain risks can impact on the drivers of value for manufacturing businesses in fast-moving sectors.

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Justin Duffy, Consulting Director, writes on management and strategy

In light of recent comments from the Chair of the Low Pay Commission, on the new National Living Wage, Justin Duffy explores the potential effects on business performance.

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John Masters, Technology Director, writes on technology and innovation

Analysis and data platforms with integrated collaboration tools can help senior leadership teams respond to rapidly-changing market conditions.

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Andrew Mosely, Deputy Managing Director, writes on design and business analysis

Corporate and individual risk, business and lending are inextricably bound up with each other, and moral hazard is an unavoidable by-product.

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Justin Duffy, Consulting Director, writes on management and strategy

How better analysis can help smaller banks prove good risk control to the regulator, even with smaller historical data sets.

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Gartner announces the breakup of the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) market into two distinct segments: finance CPM and strategic CPM. Metapraxis delivers strategic CPM solutions using our Empower software suite.

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This graph entitled “What happens online in 60 seconds” was first published in November 2014 and has been widely redistributed on the internet. It is yet another example of an infographic designer misusing a statistical visualisation format so that it fails to communicate quantitative information accurately.

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An eagle-eyed colleague of mine spotted a couple of mistakes in this table, published on the BBC Sports website today

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A company’s board of directors is collectively responsible for leading and directing its affairs in order to promote its success To fulfill this role,

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An infographic in the Raconteur supplement to the Times published on 11 November 2014 illustrates one of the classic pitfalls to avoid in plotting time series with incomplete data sets.

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Here is another mis-scaled bar chart published in a Raconteur infographic called “The business case for transformation”.

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A management information dashboard is an interactive device to enable the monitoring and comparison of performance.

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An absorbing and thought-provoking book by Hunter Whitney published in 2013, called “Data Insights: New Ways to Visualize and Make Sense of Data”, contains a useful framework setting out some of the primary roles for data visualization.

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TrendA

The most important application of colour in visualization is to indicate different categories.

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A client sent me an email this morning asking if I could explain the chart that was published in today’s edition of City AM.

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The Raconteur supplement in today’s Times newspaper contains another example of a bad practice.

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A number of visualization techniques invite the reader to use angle judgments in order to decode the data.  The most common example of this is the pie chart.

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In 1834, the psychophysicist E. H. Weber formulated one of the most fundamental insights into human perception, known as Weber’s Law.

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Having defined and explained the fundamental dimensions of MI, we can develop a chart chooser for each of the seven categories.

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Here is a good example of a mis-scaled bar chart – it is from a recent Raconteur infographic called “Top 10 trusted countries for outsourcing legal work”.

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We can’t use an MAT for a stock type item (like Accounts Receivable or Headcount) or a statistic (such as GrossMargin % or the £/$ Exchange Rate) because totalling these items over time periods doesn’t make any sense.

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Profit Margin Analysis

I’ve previously commented on a scatter plot that was part of an online demo of Microsoft’s Power BI product in the Data Visualization section.  I’ll now say a few words about one of the charts in the bottom of the dashboard.

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Readers of this blog will know that I frequently find fault with published infographics, but today it is the turn of Microsoft’s Power BI team to be the subject of my criticism.

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Developing an understanding of performance trends and identifying turning points is fundamental to managing the future.  So what is the best way to spot the underlying trend in a data series that includes actuals, prior year actuals, budgets and forecasts?

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The infographic in the Raconteur supplement distributed with today’s Times includes a chart that aims to make quantitative comparisons through the use of circles of different areas.

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Analysis of Management Information frequently includes transforming discrete period by period data from the raw numbers, in order to find insight.

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The media company Raconteur published a report on employee engagement this month, which contained an infographic.

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In a last month, we looked at the phenomenon called “pre-attentive processing”, an automatic parallel process within the brain that enables certain visual features to be recognised in less than 0.1 seconds.

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I’ve previously stated the rule that numbers within tables should always be right aligned. There are a few extensions to this rule that are worthy of mention.

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The infographic in today’s City AM (reporting the sales growth and market shares of the major UK supermarkets) has taken some positive evolutionary steps forward since I last noticed a similar graphic in the same newspaper last September.

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I have recently been working with a client organisation which usually presented values in data tables centred within the columns.

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Smoothed line chart

About 18 months ago, a large business in the FTSE 250 asked us to give constructive feedback on an executive dashboard that their IT project staff had created using tools from the Cognos suite.

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Manufacturing Contribution to EU Market Chart

The supplement in today’s Times newspaper published by Raconteur contains a large centre spread infographic entitled “How UK compares to European rivals”.

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It seems strange that the management accounting profession has yet to invent a universally recognised collective noun for the different types of data like actuals, budgets and forecasts.

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Developed, Developing and Emerging graphic

Look at the first picture in this article.  Does something pop out at you that you really can’t miss?

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This post concerns tabular data rather than graphs. The design of a table is at least as important as the design of a graph, and in many ways there is a lot more that one can get wrong in a badly designed table.

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This article discusses what the information in most conventional financial reporting consists of.

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This article contains a simple 10 point checklist that we give Metapraxis analysts to use when they create an executive dashboard.

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Defining business success has never been much of a problem for managers. If you deliver above-sector profit growth, together with positive cash flow and a growing dividend, you are certainly succeeding. But just how are you supposed to do that?

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Returning to the subject of the dimensional structure of Management Information, today we will look at the characteristics of the item dimension.

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We introduced the dimensional structure of MI in a post earlier in the week.  It turns out that the following dimensions are common to virtually all organisations, irrespective of their size or sector.

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A colleague has drawn my attention to this infographic in today’s City AM concerning the cost and value of communications services in the UK.

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Several generic classifications of graph types exist which are designed to assist us in choosing the appropriate chart for portraying the message in our data.

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Raconteur PLM - Spending by industry graph

The graph at the top of this article appeared as part of an infographic published by a media company called Raconteur, which was distributed as a supplement to today’s copy of The Times.

 

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Thinking about MI in the form of multi-dimensional cubes provides a very useful means of classifying the various distinctions that describe the data we are working with in graphs and tables.

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Yesterday’s blog post looked at an infographic that used an area chart with misleading scaling to emphasise the continued increase in total weekly hours worked, a measure of UK employment.  Today I’m looking at how we can improve on this.

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Infographics are generally designed to do a different job from the visualization of MI in business – their primary purpose is to engage or entertain through design-focused visuals rather than to provide actionable insight.  That said, visualization and infographics are on a continuum.

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