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Performance management: Deep impact with rapid data visualisation

A picture says a thousand words, which is why performance management without quick, interactive graphical data visualisation has very little impact.

So says Paul Morgan, managing director of ASYST Intelligence, a focused provider of strategic business intelligence and data management solutions to southern African companies.

"Performance management (PM) and data visualisation go hand-in-hand. It is far easier to manage and drive organisational and individual performance if you can deliver relevant and useful information about what's happening in the business in a visually appealing way. That's because a dynamic graphical representation of data has much more impact than a spreadsheet, with some colour highlighting. And, because it has bigger impact, it gets employees, executive, supplier and customer buy-in."

He points out that while PM tools as a rule have the ability to graphically represent data and deliver it via colourful dashboards to users across an organisation, companies need to have a central data store in place to support these PM applications before they can use them for data visualisation.

"This is a problem for companies that are still struggling to implement enterprise data warehouses and disseminate information throughout their organisations because of poorly integrated systems. We are also increasingly seeing the manual input of information into PM systems, but without the underlying reporting structures in place, the information cannot be distributed in a meaningful fashion to whoever needs to see it.

"As a result, PM can sometimes look lacklustre because people aren't getting information that is relevant and in a format that makes sense to them. People want a quick, at-a-glance, accurate overview of what is going on in the areas of the business that they are concerned with. If PM tools are unable to deliver this, they lose impact," says Morgan.

He continues: "In addition, time to deploy is critical. People like to see results quickly, and they will be more likely to buy-in to the concept of performance management if they can rapidly see and measure results of organisational or individual changes. If performance information can be deployed quickly in an eye-catching way across the organisation, everyone in the business can see how their area of the business is performing. It creates a sense of competition. That's why data visualisation drives performance management."

Morgan says there are data visualisation tools available that allow companies to deliver information about business performance in an attractive, interactive way - and they can do it fast.

Solutions such as Business Objects' Xcelsius can take dry data from Excel spreadsheets and other disparate databases and display the information with high impact. Dashboards can be very rapidly developed and customised according to the area of the business and type of information being represented.

"These kinds of solutions bring PM to life almost instantaneously, get buy-in fast, and add momentum to a company's organisational objectives. They should be an imperative to any business focused on managing, monitoring and driving performance management," concludes Morgan.

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ASYST Intelligence

ASYST Intelligence is an empowered South African company providing experienced consultancy and specialising in the provision and improvement of business intelligence and data management systems. ASYST Intelligence is a Business Objects Enterprise Partner and a Microsoft Certified Partner and boasts an established client base, incorporating household names such as Anglo Platinum, Eskom, Mutual & Federal, ABSA, Investec, RMB Private Bank and the Department of Public Enterprises. More information about ASYST Intelligence can be found at


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