Creating Mobile Apps Your Consumers Will Love
Creating Mobile Apps Your Consumers Will Love 1024 683 InfoVision Admin

Creating Mobile Apps Your Consumers Will Love

Consider the apps you love most. Think about what makes you love it and use it. Chances are it’s highly-entertaining or informative, or it simplifies your life in a significant way. But good mobile apps don’t just happen. They have to be developed with the end-user’s wants and needs at the center of the design process. And a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work either. Great apps generally fall into one of these four, or a combination of these categories:

1. It makes life easier

2. It’s informative

3. It’s entertaining

4. It saves time and money

That’s a pretty simple formula for success, but creating it and tying it all together with a user interface (UI) that impresses your consumer is no easy feat. It takes a great deal of technical skill coupled with a deep understanding of what appeals to your customer to keep them coming back for more. Incorporate these basics into your app design and you’ll have customers in the palms of your hands.

Consumers love apps that look good and are smart

The app world is competitive. The way an app looks and feels is crucial and it’s likely that you’ll only have one chance to make a good impression. If a user downloads your app and it doesn’t operate well then chances are you’ve lost that customer for good. If there are really cool elements that could be built into the design, first ask whether or not it adds functionality. If it doesn’t, scrap it.  An app should feel intuitive and smart to its user, not clunky, overdesigned or bogged down.

Consumers love apps that do all the work

When designing an app developers must consider how people think things should naturally work and design according to those specifications. Users don’t want to do a ton of work to use an app. Remember they’re drawn to apps that make their lives easier in some way. The best way to determine if consumers will find the app usable is to let them use it. Test it out on potential users. Watch them as they navigate through the app and ask questions. Figuring out design issues early will save time, money and heartache.

Consumers love apps that make “mobile” sense

A presentation by mobility expert Nick Watt says a good app “plays to the strengths of mobile” which he says are: communications, spontaneity, geo-sensitivity, short periods of use and focused activity.  Watt uses Shazam, the music discovery application that utilizes a smartphone’s microphone to listen to ambient music and correctly identifies it,  as his example. Shazam typically isn’t a regularly used application, but it serves a purpose. The app keeps a log of each song it tags, allowing the user to quit the app after identifying a song. The options to buy, listen or share a track via Twitter or Facebook increases interaction time and the likelihood of the user coming back to the app to get the name of the track many times after it was first tagged. What’s not to love about an app that helps you remember the name of that song you breakdanced to in 6th grade!

Testing “lovability”

Finally, to find out how likely it is that a customer is going to love your app, simply ask yourself:  ” Is the app intuitive and pleasing to the eye?” Would I use it again? Did the experience resonate with me? And lastly, would I recommend it? If the answer is yes, yes, yes and yes. You have a winner.

At InfoVision, we have the experience and expertise to develop mobile apps that customers love. To learn more about how we can provide the solutions you need, contact us today.

Consumer protection against security dangers in mobile banking
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Consumer protection against security dangers in mobile banking

Along with other significant advances in banking technology, mobile banking has completely transformed the way the consumer conducts financial transactions. From the “select-and-click” ease by which you can transfer funds or pay bills, to capturing an image of a check for deposit, there’s never been a time where banking has been easier. According to New York Research Firm Frost & Sullivan, 12 million people used mobile banking services in 2009. They say that number is expected to climb to 45 million by the year 2014. However, the convenience of mobile banking has raised a number of security concerns about identity theft. But by adherence to basic protective precautions, you can significantly reduce your chances of theft. For secure banking, at the very least, you should:

  • Download an anti-virus app. Invest in anti-virus protection or use one of the many free versions available to smartphone users. You can also check with your bank about any security or identity theft protection features that you can enable.
  • Enable remote wipe-out services. Most smartphones also offer wipe-out features like those provided by MobileMe for the iPhone, that automatically erase the information on your phone if you claim it as lost or stolen.
  • Immediately log out.  Make sure to go through the app’s formal log off process to ensure your account access information is secure of any bank apps or sites where your financial information is stored as soon as you’ve finished your transaction. Merely exiting a mobile banking application does not mean you’ve safely logged off.
  • Mitigate risk with identity theft protection. Identity theft protection or insurance packages can usually be purchased from your financial institution. Some of these packages may already be included in bank fees you already pay. Check with your bank to find out if you have that protection.
  • Download only authorized apps. Only downloading authorized smartphone apps, like those found in the Apple App Store or Android App Store, can reduce the possibility of downloading malware. This approach doesn’t guarantee virus protection or completely eliminate mobile banking risks, but it will limit the potential of security breaches.
  • Don’t store log-in information: There is no reason to store log-in information of any kind, not even a user ID. Saving user IDs gives hackers less work to do when trying to steal your account information.
  • Contact your service provider. If your phone is stolen contact your service provider as soon as you possibly can. You can ask them to freeze your service to prevent unauthorized transactions and monitor any activities on your account for a certain amount of time to be on the lookout for any suspicious transactions.

Mobility banking was designed to be a convenient, safe and hassle-free way to process financial transactions.  Taking  these precautions can go a long way in giving you the protection you need for secure banking and without fear of theft.

What Mobile App Security Means for Banking Institutions
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What Mobile App Security Means for Banking Institutions

Mobile banking services represent a significant opportunity for banks to get in front of more customers — the convenience factor is highly-attractive. And it’s fairly common knowledge that consumers  should be vigilant in taking steps to protect themselves when using mobile banking apps. In fact, our previous post outlines several basic precautions that work in concert with one another and go a long way in preventing security breaches. However, consumer usage of mobile apps and some of the possible associated security threats should not only be evaluated by the consumer, but also by the banks behind the applications long before it’s even released.

According to an article recently published by the ABA Banking Journal, the security challenge for banks  is compounded by the fact that technological advancements are outpacing the ability of regulatory agencies to issue guidance in a timely manner. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council continuously updates its regulations and recommendations for standard Internet banking. However, it is still working on mobile and mobile security guidelines which leaves software developers unclear about the features to integrate in order to support compliance.

Experts suggest that bank executives conduct a thorough risk assessment of all the technology behind their mobile banking application and be sure to protect themselves against possible risks.

The process required to adopt and develop a good and secure mobile banking app must be led by qualified mobile security experts and should not be rushed. It is imperative that banks understand that the security and privacy issues related to mobile devices are different, and in many instances, more complicated than any online banking risks. Therefore, the risk assessment and management process is critical in helping banks mitigate the regulatory and compliance risk associated with mobile devices and their software and applications.

The ABA article recommends a comprehensive program that includes the evaluation of six types of risks to develop appropriate response strategies and programs:

Operational risk-Includes loss from inadequate or failed processes, people, and systems. It usually also includes the threat from potential fraud or theft.

Strategic risk-The impact on earnings of poor decisions, the improper implementation of strategy, and an institution’s inability to respond to industry changes or meet customer needs.

Legal risk-Encompasses the potential impact of lawsuits, unenforceable contracts, or adverse judgments. It requires considering potential problems resulting from ambiguous or untested laws, rules, and regulations.

External risk-The possible impact of factors beyond management’s control, including new legislation, natural disasters, and certain macroeconomic developments such as supply chain disruptions.

Reputation risk-Includes the impact that any negative developments may have on company stakeholders, from customers and shareholders to regulators and vendors.

Compliance risk-The impact of violations of law or noncompliance with industry rules and regulations or ethical standards.

A thorough evaluation of these possible risks provides the basis for a strong mitigation strategy. The Infovision team of mobility solutions experts are well-versed in tackling these kinds of complex, business-critical initiatives. Contact us and we can work alongside your risk assessment team to determine and develop the safest and most effective mobile solution for your organization.

Readying your organization for mobile CRM
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Readying your organization for mobile CRM

As CRM spending continues to increase among business organizations, mobile CRM apps continue to gain popularity among companies that need to equip field or remote employees with a high level of mobility. Gartner Research reports that mobile CRM apps will grow a whopping 500 percent by 2014. The report goes on to say that there are 200 mobile CRM apps currently in app stores, but by 2014, there will be 1,200. The rise in demand may be explained in part by Gartner’s findings that, “worldwide PC shipments totaled 79.2 million units in the first quarter of 2013, an 11.2. percent decline from the first quarter of 2012. Global PC shipments went below 80 million units for the first time since the second quarter of 2009.”

By being able to access customer data from anywhere on just about any mobile device, employees can do everything they would typically do from their desktops or laptops. When done right, mobile CRM solutions can benefit organizations through increased productivity and effectiveness throughout an entire sales process including productivity, lead generation, follow-up and conversions. Mobile CRM should effectively streamline the entire process for field employees and improve the entire experience for the customer.

Choosing the right solution

It’s important to note that mobile CRM apps should not be a simple carbon copy of a desktop program. It should be optimized to fit the specific mobile device being used and a custom user experience should be generated that takes full advantage of that device’s functionality.

Choosing the right mobile CRM solution also involves making sure it fits your organization’s specific needs. How many users will need the application and what functionality is required to do the job well are both important questions that will help determine what solution is best for you. Also, knowing what security measures should be in place and how manageable it will be for your organization is key. You don’t want a solution that requires a great deal of IT support and that ultimately adds more work for your team.

Obtaining buy-in from employees who will be using the app is essential. Find out from them how they need the CRM solution to function in order for it to improve the way they work. You’ll also want to know before selecting a solution how quickly and easily it can be up and running within your organization. A smooth, efficient deployment process will help the solution get off to a good start within your company.

As with any good app, mobile CRM apps should be intuitive and seamless in its integration with other applications your organization uses to get work done. If the app is clunky or complicated then it’s very likely that no one will use it. Make sure you find a vendor that is willing to conduct thorough training to get all your users up to speed.

With the right mobile CRM solution, you can revolutionize the way your employees meet your customer needs. Starting with a strong planning, vetting and implementation program will ensure that you get off to a strong start with your new mobile CRM solution.

Understanding NFC
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Understanding NFC

There’s been quite a bit of buzz lately surrounding NFC, Near-Field Communications technology.  And while it has yet to be widely adopted at this point, NFC is starting to gain traction particularly as power players like Google are using it for applications like Google Wallet that allows users to send money via email, store financial information, make in-store purchases and buy on-line.

How it works

Often referred to as “contactless” as opposed to “wireless”, NFC technology is based on radio waves. In a recent article for, wireless computing expert Craig Matthias explains how it works:

NFC’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) technologies have been used for many years in manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and other applications involving short-range, low-bandwidth, point-to-point communications and the tracking of physical objects. Designed for low cost, NFC is generally effective over a distance of only a few (four is a commonly-noted number) centimeters. The current standard, ISO 18000-3, operates at 13.56 MHz. (very low relative to the 2.4 and 5 GHz. of Wi-Fi, for example) and at a data rate of up to 424 Kbps (also very low relative to most other contemporary wireless technologies).

Since NFC is based on RFID technologies, one side of any given connection can be passive – no batteries or other power required, but both sides can be powered (this is called “Active Mode”) for improved reliability and enhanced utility.

Put another way, active devices have the ability to both read and send information. These devices are usually smartphones containing a SIM card or NFC tag. Passive devices containing NFC tags are able to send information but not read it. The communication between these devices is controlled through a secure channel. This communication with encryptions allows for immediate exchange of information. The minimal range required to transfer information is great for security and privacy.

Where it’s used

It’s likely the biggest use for NFC technology will come from consumer financial transactions. The convenience of being able to use your phone as a credit card, authorization for financial transaction, or to securely allow access, like keys, to your home, car, etc. of course, is all very appealing. In stores, customers would simply tap their phone to the NFC terminal and checkout using whichever credit card or debit card they select.

Google and a number of other Android-based devices already support NFC. Overall, adoption has been greater in Europe and Africa, and would likely take much longer in North America because of the infrastructure that would need to be in place to a make a go of it. Large numbers of retailers and financial institutions would need to install and implement the technology, and the time it will take for this to happen on a large scale is not known and certainly won’t happen overnight.

However, according to an article originally published by SAP,  there are many international banks adopting NFC and working with retailers and mobile providers to explore this new market. The Canadian debit network Interac and Royal Bank of Canada have partnered with McDonald’s and Blackberry to demonstrate a contactless application on an embedded chip in a blackberry device. And five Taiwanese banks are to receive approval from regulators to distribute mobile credit cards that are downloaded over the air via SIM cards in NFC mobile phones. These trials and similar demonstrations are popping up around the world.

So while a successful future for NFC technology is still questionable, it’s certainly poised for widespread adoption. We’ll be watching.

Getting Started with App Monetization
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Getting Started with App Monetization

Now that your organization has decided that it needs to develop a mobile app, you’ll want to consider whether your mobile strategy should include monetization. There are a number of ways to make money from apps and we’ve assembled a list of the top methods to consider:

Paid downloads

Charging users to download your app is probably the simplest and most obvious way to monetize. The upside to charging for apps is that you’re paid every time someone installs it and there’s guaranteed revenue per user.  The downside is that competition is high and your challenge will be to rise above the noise so that your app stands out to users who may have hundreds of choices.  Some apps like games, books and productivity tools are better suited for the paid route.


Another way to make money is by running ads. Although ads can interrupt the user experience, if they’re relevant and strategically placed they can be effective without being annoying. You’ll want to make sure users are engaged by interesting, fresh content so that they come back multiple times.  Ad click rates can range from half a percent to five or six percent depending on the offer, so rather than generating a download you have to generate maybe a hundred ad impressions; however, there’s no limit to how many times a user can click through and ultimately purchase. The most popular ad networks for iOS is iAds  and Google’s Ad Mob, but there are many others.

In-app purchases

In-app purchases are purchases made from within a mobile application. Users will usually make an in-app purchase in order to gain special content or features in an app like, restricted levels, virtual money, special characters or boosts. Purchasing is completed directly from within the app with the mobile platform provider facilitating the purchase and taking a share of the money spent. The rest goes to the app developer.


Sponsorships are similar to ads, but you sell your own sponsorships and have more control over content, frequency, placement, size, etc. With sponsorships, one company might sponsor the entire app and their branding is seen throughout the experience. So that the experience is less intrusive marketers and developers can work together to create content that flows naturally within the engagement.  It is important to find a sponsor that is a fit for an app’s target audience and know what products or services that they would be interested in. You want to be sure that sponsorship integration is organic and authentic so you won’t run the risk of turning your audience off with information that’s irrelevant to them.

Affiliate sales

Another way to make money in your app is an affiliate sales relationship which is when a third party pays the developer each time they bring a user to the third party’s product or service. Popular affiliate marketing programs are offered through LinkShare, Commission Junction and One Network Direct.

Big Data’s Big Challenges
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Big Data’s Big Challenges

The term “big data”, originally described by Doug Laney of Mega Group, is widely accepted to represent data sets where the three Vs—volume, velocity and variety—present specific challenges in managing these data sets.

Velocity refers to the speed with which data is created. Every 60 seconds, 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, Twitter users send 100,000 tweets and Instagram users share 3,600 photos — that’s data velocity.

Variety is the result of all this activity. Obviously it’s not limited to these social media platforms, but it can include all the various ways we consume information and the formats by which we take them in or disseminate them. Additionally, organizations are collecting and storing more data so that they can get better insight into their business and customers in order to fully optimize productivity, customer engagement and revenue opportunities. And consider all of the “smart”, industry-specific technology used like electric grids or city traffic systems. All of this information demands innovative ways to access it  and store it. Old school databases aren’t able to adequately handle and process the information which has given way to powerful, robust new technologies.

Volume represents the size of all this data and is more difficult to define because it can constantly move and change.

Although big data is revolutionizing the way we live, conduct business and forecast for our futures, the abundance of information it provides that we can use to enhance everything from healthcare to education to advertising is not without its issues. A recent report in Washington Technology,  outlines some of the overall biggest challenges we face with big data:

  • Data acquisition
  • Storage
  • Processing
  • Data transport and dissemination
  • Data management and curation
  • Archiving
  • Security
  • Workforce with specialized skills
  • Cost of all of the above

For companies specifically, the challenges center around the fact that the way we live and technological advancements in general require that this data be processed faster than ever before so that we can respond faster, and in many cases, be able to respond in real-time. Moreover, this information comes from  a wide array of channels. To mange it all, organizations must have:

Solid Technical Infrastructure

Big data requires a solid technical infrastructure including storage, bandwidth, CPU, etc. Organizations have to be prepared for the variation in workload it requires. The Cloud is certainly suited to accommodate big data needs — the challenge in this case is primarily associated with finding the right provider with the right, cost-effective solutions for your needs.

Strong Applications

Finding the right applications to support your organization’s big data needs can also be a challenge. You will need to consider integration with your existing tools, learning curves and having a powerful enough operating environment in which to manage all of the various pieces. Many of the applications currently on the market are new and have many kinks to be worked out.

The Right Knowledge-base and Skill sets

In addition to having the right application, you will need the right team to manage your data. You need people who understand the business side of big data, who know the right questions to ask vendors and understand and can communicate your needs. You also will have to identify the right technical staff to manage the infrastructure and applications. And you need “data scientists” that can understand the numbers and algorithms behind the data. This team also has to have the right attitude for experimentation and research that is tied to business objectives.

Your organization must also find a way for the big data team to work effectively with organizational data that is often inconsistent and siloed, making data difficult to capture and analyze.

Clear Valuations

Another challenge for companies is being able to ascribe clear value to outcomes so that you can prioritize activities. This is of extreme importance so that the investment and experimentation yields a return.

When your organization is able to build a strong infrastructure for big data manned by knowledgeable, flexible experts and skilled technicians who can help your organization see what information is valuable in reaching your business goals, you’ll be on your way to getting the big results you want from your big data.

KPIs for CIOs
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KPIs for CIOs

For most chief information officers, your role within an organization encompasses no less than executive responsibilities — making sure your departments are contributing to the profitability of the company; innovation, operational excellence, change management, and perhaps many more depending on your company’s specific needs, and of course, there’s an expectation that you deliver on all fronts. Given your responsibilities and their associated demands, it’s imperative to have KPIs in place to help ensure that you’re providing the information technology functions within your organization with the leadership needed to be successful. If setting KPIs has been a challenge for you, consider these five commonly used, general performance measures for IT departments and use them as a guideline to establish and build out your own comprehensive structure:

Commonly Used IT Department KPIs:

  • Optimized infrastructure and applications
  • Efficient staffing
  • Timely response times
  • Successful system implementation
  • Value and cost management

Optimized infrastructure and applications

An IT department’s first priority should be to ensure that the organization it supports has a solid infrastructure in place to handle existing application and processing capabilities. Using performance and cost information, the CIO can then assess where there are opportunities for process and cost improvements. This can be achieved in part by evaluating areas like hardware and software problems that are impacting more than one user, incident reports and resolution, scope of problems, response times and trends.

Efficient staffing

It’s also important to make sure that available staff resources are being utilized efficiently. This is done by analyzing turnover rates by position, reviewing open positions that are negatively impacting projects and support, as well as considering any overstaffing and use of contractors.

Timely response times

Another IT department KPI, is how quickly you can respond to and resolve issues. Backlogs can be measured by type, size, hours, etc. You’ll also want to graph completed requests in reporting periods, late responses, on-time performance, budget overages for projects — these measures will be impacted by the size of the project.

Successful system implementation and change management

The successful implementation of infrastructure changes or new applications is another important KPI for IT departments. This can be measured in time, costs and success rate. It can also be broken out by planned application changes, emergency application changes and enhancement changes. You’ll also want to consider issues that arise from changes, work hours associated with changes, as well as any downtime.

Value and cost management

CIOs must also be vigilant in managing the cost of delivering IT services to make sure that maximum value and customer satisfaction are achieved by the available resources.  Most IT departments have limited funds and fixed budgets, and are expected to provide solutions and meet conflicting demands. The IT department must be able to work across the organization to ensure that resources are efficiently and effectively being deployed to support the initiatives that deliver the most value.

If you need help building a strong, IT department contact Infovision’s Strategic Resources team.  We can be deployed either on-site at a client at any location worldwide, at one of our several on-shore facilities in USA, or at our off-shore facility in Bangalore, India or any combination thereof.

Is it time for a security audit?
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Is it time for a security audit?

For most organizations, the security and protection of its information ranks high on the list of importance, however, often times there’s an assumption by leadership that its “taken care of.”  And while your IT department may work diligently to make sure proper security measures are in place, it’s critical for the organization to go beyond simply installing security software and applications, but also to develop specific processes designed to assess risks and institute controls and countermeasures to mitigate them. By conducting regular security audits, managed by a team with technical and business knowledge of the company’s IT assets, your organization will be able to take security to the next level and preventively protect valuable company information.

Generally speaking, these audits consist of interviewing key personnel, conducting vulnerability assessments, creating catalogs of existing security policies and controls, and examining assets covered by the scope of the audit.

In many cases, audits rely on technology tools to conduct the audit and focus on answering questions such as:

  • Are passwords in place and are they hard to crack?
  • Are there access control lists for network assets?
  • Are there access logs that specify who can access what information?
  • Are adware and malware regularly scanned for on personal computers?
  • Who can access backed-up media?

Of course, this is only a sample list of questions that a security audit should cover. Auditing should be an ongoing process that helps your organization make continuous improvements that optimize IT performance. It should not only address security compliance, but also the quality of the policies and controls that are in place since technology is rapidly changing and security measures can quickly become obsolete.

The basic components of your audit should include:

Defining the perimeters of the audit

Perimeters may be organized around logical groups like datacenter specific LAN or around business processes such as financial reporting.  This allows the auditors to easily manage and focus on the assets, processes and policies being audited.

Defining the process scope of the audit

Make sure the process scope is not too broad or too narrow because this can lead to stalls in the audit process or inconclusive assessments of risks and controls.

Conducting historical assessments

Another critical aspect of the audit is to do your due diligence in assessing historical events like known vulnerabilities, security incidents that caused damage in the past, and any recent changes to IT infrastructure and business processes. Past audits should also be reviewed and taken into consideration.

Developing the audit plan

A good audit is guided by a comprehensive audit plan that includes a description of the scope of the audit, timelines, and project ownership.

Assessing security risks

The core of the audit is the risk assessment phase. It should cover:

  • Prioritization of the assets to be audited
  • Identification of potential threats
  • Vulnerabilities/deficiencies for each asset
  • Current security controls
  • Specific risks and probability of occurrence
  • Potential impact of a threat
  • Risk calculations

Reporting audit results

All of the information gathered should be reported in detail and presented for review. Documentation should include an executive summary, findings, determinations, required updates/fixes and supporting data.

Developing new and/or updated security controls

Ultimately, your security audit should result in specific recommendations for improving business security. Your organization should come away from an audit with recommendations for new or updated controls, as well as deadlines and ownership for deployment.

Data Visualization Best Practices
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Data Visualization Best Practices

Data visualization is the term used to describe technology that lets end users see visual representations of data in order to help them gain a clearer understanding of the information, put it in a business context and use it to meet business objectives. Visualized data can be displayed in business intelligence (BI) dashboards and performance scorecards that give users a high-level view of corporate information, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). But models alone aren’t effective unless they are able to help clearly interpret and understand the results. So to ensure that your data visualization interface does more than simply provide great looking visuals, here are a few design-phase best practices to follow:

Start with user needs

The best way to develop user-focused analytics is to start by finding out what the user’s needs are, working backwards to create an interface that effectively and efficiently supports those needs. Ultimately, this will lead to the analytics for the interface.  By including end-users early on in the process — even if they don’t always know what they really want or need — you increase your chances of designing a well-suited interface.  On the front-end, users may not be able to describe how a good interface will look and operate, but they certainly know what a bad one is.

By including users in the planning process, designers can identify successes early on and be looped into needs and/or challenges they may have never anticipated without user involvement. It’s also helpful to include a diverse set of users to weigh in on the design phase, as varying skills and abilities can impact how broad usability will potentially be.

Determine how the results will be used

Analytic interfaces should be developed out of a deep understanding of how the results will be used. When working with users in the design phase, discuss the design based on the varying roles within the organization, allowing sensory cues to determine actions for key or critical information.

Use pictures

Leverage the human ability to quickly understand and draw relationships by size, position, colors and other visual and sensory means. Pictures can accomplish immediately what numbers require a considerable amount of time and processing to accomplish.

Provide actionable analytics

Effective analytics produce results that drive what step or what multiple steps should be taken. Your interface should alert users that something should be done or it should make real-time answersavailable. For example, rectangles can be designed to indicate an increase in warehouse deliveries. A larger rectangle can represent an increase in deliveries and a smaller rectangle can represent a decrease. The color of the rectangle might represent forecasted versus actual deliveries, and so on. The point is the information should be easy to understand and interpret and spur users to take some action.

If your organization is looking to harness the power of data visualization tools, contact the experts at Infovision to see how we can help find the BI solution that’s right for you.

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