While my personal specialization is in dashboard design and data visualization, I’m finding that there are a lot of tools and options to choose from. Although I have focused on several of these, it is important to understand the overall market trends and the benefits/comparison to the alternatives. Gartner’s 2013 BI Magic Quadrant is a great place to start, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the corresponding job market for some of these tools. To accomplish this analysis, I used the trends feature on Indeed.com. For a current snapshot, the following chart shows the number of listed openings by term searched. I’m sure that there are duplicated positions and such, but it gives us a nice order of magnitude demand for these skills. The accompanying comments and opinions below are my own.
While PowerPoint may be considered a necessary evil, the reality is that you start with a blank screen. I believe it is the responsibility of the presenter to deliver interesting content, regardless of the tool. With the hopes of seeing better presentations in the world, I’d like to point out a great set of templates from Infodiagram.com.
Recently I rebuilt my Balanced Scorecard in the mobile version of SAP Dashboards (Xcelsius). While I learned a great deal from this exercise, the true lesson is that you should be designing for mobile first! While you can export to both desktop and mobile with the same file, most ‘desktop’ dashboards are over-complicated and overcrowded. Trying to convert those files to mobile will impact both usability and performance.
Since becoming a full-time BI consultant focusing on dashboard development, I have found that mockups and wire-frames are critical tools of the trade. While I have tried other tools (I particularly liked Balsamiq), I’ve realized that I always come back to PowerPoint. Why? Well for a number of really good reasons…
1.) It’s Powerful – shapes, layers, and hyperlinks to mimic navigation
2.) It’s Universal – Everyone can move stuff around, add comments and share with others, without needing special software. Images and PDFs are also pretty universal, but not as easy to edit.
3.) It’s Reusable – Many elements can be reused for different dashboard wireframes, and best of all, I can use backgrounds and custom shapes from PowerPoint as image components in SAP Dashboards.
4.) It’s Familiar – After using PowerPoint for 15+ years, it has become the fastest way for me to produce a good wireframe.
On the other hand, it can be frustrating and inefficient when you start to have a bunch of custom shapes and diagrams spread across numerous PowerPoint files. While I have several ‘template’ files, but works as well as the PowerMockup add-in. It gives you a separate menu to store custom diagrams and comes with huge stencil library on it’s own. And when you’re done, anyone else can open and edit the file and see the stencils as native PowerPoint shapes.