“Can’t see the forest for the trees” is a saying that virtually everyone is familiar with. In essence, it describes when someone is so focused on the details of a situation that the big picture—the overall scope of the situation—completely eludes them.
Unfortunately, for many companies this saying perfectly sums up their attempts to use data for financial planning and reporting.
At the root of the problem is the method which most companies still use to represent real-time data—the static spreadsheet, that fabled, almost hallowed software that dutifully represents data in columns and rows. With its modern roots in 1960s-era IBM computers, the static spreadsheet has become a ubiquitous tool for financial departments around the world.
The fact remains that spreadsheets are a valuable part of the reporting paradigm. It’s hard to beat the flexibility of the medium and the ability it offers to crunch and analyze data on-the-fly.
In spite of this, static spreadsheets are not the ideal option for every situation. Much of this has to do with how the human brain processes information. The brain’s visual cortex is responsible for immediately recognizing something so we can take the appropriate action. In contrast, the cerebral cortex is the “deep-dive” portion of the brain, responsible for processing data.
Unfortunately, while the visual cortex can immediately recognize data presented in a spreadsheet format, the cerebral cortex must be engaged to actually make sense of the data. In fast-paced, ever-changing circumstances, this adds a layer of complexity and processing that could be avoided.
The key to faster, more efficient use of real-time data is to provide the same data in a visual format that allows the visual cortex to process the data more rapidly. In other words—use pictures, charts, and graphs.
There are a number of advantages to this approach:
- Business leaders are often able to grasp the information and its implications much faster, especially in situations where time is of the essence.
- Because the information is more self-explanatory, visual data saves time and money by freeing up individuals who would otherwise be explaining the data.
- Recent research from IBM shows that as much as one-third of all business leaders don’t trust the data they use to make decisions. Presenting information using a medium that is clear and promotes quick and easy assimilation will help build confidence in that data.
The insightsoftware Advantage
In spite of these advantages, not all solutions are created equal. Hubble by insightsoftware is the industry leader in business performance management. With a real-time connection to your JD Edwards and Oracle E-Business Suite ERP, Hubble software has access to all the data necessary to generate visual reports on demand, giving you the ability to interact with vital information more efficiently than ever before.