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Continuing the theme from the “chart police” post, more discussion on gauges/speedometers/dials over on the Dashboard Zone site:

Dashboard Zone

Consensus from discussion around the chart police post seemed to be that these sorts of thing really ARE pretty gimmicky, and that there are better ways to get attention AND convey data.  I think I mostly agree, but I never say never 🙂

Been busy with the FAQ site over the weekend and today.  Tomorrow, I have to choose which PowerPivot topic to dive back into.  So much to choose from, my OneNote overfloweth! 🙂

Rob Collie

Rob Collie

One of the original engineering leaders behind Power BI and Power Pivot during his 14-year career at Microsoft, Rob Collie founded a consulting company in 2013 that is 100% devoted to “the new way forward” made possible by Power BI and its related technologies. Since 2013, PowerPivotPro has rapidly grown to become the leading firm in the industry, pioneering an agile, results-first methodology never before seen in the Business Intelligence space. A sought-after public speaker and author of the #1-selling Power BI book, Rob and his team would like to help you revolutionize your business and your career.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Context is everything. Every automobile dashboard has a few gauges similar to your example, and nobody has ever complained to me that this was gimmicky. Factories and power plants still have plenty of dial gauges in use. I wouldn’t use these constantly, but they have their merits. Gauges are familiar, and fairly close to a linear representation. If they are used in a straightforward way, gauges can be very clear graphic representations of data.

  2. “Gauges are familiar, and fairly close to a linear representation. If they are used in a straightforward way, gauges can be very clear graphic representations of data.”

    And herein lies the problem. Consider how a gauge is used in a car, plane, factory etc. It provides *real-time* information. My speedometer doesn’t show my speed yesterday, last week or last month. Yet, a lot of gauges used in BI dashboards show lagging measurements. Again, a bullet graph takes up less space and conveys more information than a gauge. It’s a no-brainer really.

    1. Everything in BI dashboards shows lagging measurements. It’s a limitation, to be sure. That’s what launched the predictive analytics biz.

      If you like bullet charts, if you find them informative, use them. Vaya con Dios. As for me, not one of the thousands of clients I’ve spoken with over the years has ever expressed a desire to use bullet charts. Granted, I could choose to educate them, but I feel there are more valuable topics for the limited time available.

  3. “Everything in BI dashboards shows lagging measurements”

    Hence the reason why a gauge is the wrong choice. Outside of BI dashboards, gauges show real-time information – not lagging measurements. The BI industry has taken hold of the dashboard paradigm and applied the gauge thing incorrectly. Some software goes so far that they include reflections on the gauge – something you wouldn’t want to see in a real gauge.

    “not one of the thousands of clients I’ve spoken with over the years has ever expressed a desire to use bullet charts”

    Out of the “thousands of clients,” how many have heard of bullet graphs? Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of software out there supporting bullet graphs, but they are easy to create in Excel.

    I’ve done comparisons of bullet graphs and gauges on dashboards. Because bullet graphs take up less space, you can include more information on a single display. That, plus the fact that you can show more useful info per graph make bullets an easy winner IMHO. The clients I choose to educate (all of ’em) agree.

  4. “Everything in BI dashboards show lagging measurement”

    Would the “lagging” be the user using old data instead of using real time data? The dashboard is the output function not input so we shouldn’t blame the dashboard but the user in this case.

    As for being useful, I believe this was written already where content is the key and also most important is that if your report has no need for it why use it?

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