The premise behind data visualization is that looking directly at the numbers is not always the best way to understand the data. Data visualization is the process of converting raw numerical or tabular data into a graphical depiction of the data. One of the main goals of data visualization is to support decision making through the use of properly designed graphical representations of information. When information is presented in a visual format, it allows users to more quickly perceive patterns or properties that may not have been anticipated or even discovered had the data been displayed differently - allowing users to draw valuable conclusions more intuitively, holistically and rapidly. In relation with KPI visualization and representation graphical approaches adopted by the public and private sector include:
This is an analogue of a vehicle dashboard or aircraft cockpit display. The intention is to provide the person with a graphical representation of key PIs that enable them to take action. Techniques applied include digital, ribbon and dial displays, moving bar graphs, and ticker tape analogues. Dashboards, which provide graphical depictions of up-to-the-minute key performance indicators (KPIs) across a company, are becoming increasingly vital. Customized information relating to the KPIs can be integrated from multiple components into a unified display. The goal is to respond faster to change and put out fires before it is too late. Dashboards may be customized in a multitude of ways to display various data points and provide a powerful way of monitoring the organization's performance in real time.
By visualizing data through the use of charts, graphs and maps, properly designed dashboards provide a high-level view combined with the ability to drill down into underlying information thus making it easier to identify trends and locate exceptions to the trends The proper use of colour in a dashboard cannot be underestimated. For example, some managers might like a display that looks similar to a series of stoplights, which is populated with KPIs such as daily sales or hourly factory output. If all systems are green, the situation is fine. If one turns red, there is a problem that needs immediate resolution. Thousands of separate measurements can be abstracted into relatively simple representations. Drill down allows the decision-maker to dig into the red light details without getting bogged down with departments which are working fine.
â— Traffic Light
When reviewing the measurement indicators, colour signals, are used to visualize the difference between the current situation when it is compared to the desired outcomes. This is an effective tool for communication. Red signals visualize that immediate action is necessary, while yellow is used to express that close attention is needed. Green is used when the relationship between current and target measures are satisfying.
These are particularly useful where the PI is most informative when viewed as part of a trend or when compared with other linked or comparable factors.