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3 Principles of Good Visualization

Posted on November 15, 2018 at 7:45 AM

In today’s competitive world, role of data in the financial services sector has become extremely important. The question many financial institutions face is how to utilize this data to make informed decisions. Since data analytics is a hot topic for all financial institutions, it is helpful to know that good visualization approaches, tools and projects can accelerate the journey to data analytics and predictive models. While not necessarily a precursor to it, identifying the underlying and hidden patterns and meanings in analysed data give credit unions a head start in the right direction.


What is visualization? Often called Business Intelligence (or BI), it is a technique where information processed from data is presented in charts, diagrams, and images to understand and explore complex phenomenon’s, or in simpler terms, it is an organized representation of the information in your data. The primary goal of visualization is to create an actionable insight. The challenge here lies in laying the analysis in a clear and an unambiguous manner to facilitate decision making. The good news is that various tools are available in the market like SSRS, Tableau, PowerBI, Qlikview, Domo, etc. that can help us in quick reporting, and produce interactive customizable charts that absorb real-time data.


More Credit unions are adopting analytics but resorting to data visualization can up the game for them. Why should they use visualization? It can help them take decisions with greater confidence and accuracy on activities related to enhance member experience, growth, loyalty, and engagement. Once a credit union understands the value of visualization and that they need it, the journey is just beginning. Right at the onset the credit union should internalize the three most important principles of good visualization - the 3s: Standard, Simple and Scalable.


Simple: It is the ease with which the visual reports can be interpreted. No need to over explain, the key metrics should be on the top with the chart and graph headers simple and to the point. All detailed information should be at the end with the labels visible and ordered in a consistent manner. Supported tools should be laid well encouraging users to use them in a systematic way to draw additional outputs for easy decision making. For the more daring credit unions, this is where design thinking could play a role, for example, making the displayed information pertinent to the user’s role, storing frequent information in memory and allowing sophisticated searching capabilities.


Below is the dashboard screenshot for a balance transfer campaign of a Minnesota based credit union of 500 MM in asset size.



One quick glance would have made you aware of the campaign results. It presents all metrics in a simple and concise manner with all important details, expectations and achievements in one place making it easy to track the progress of the campaign. This is simple yet compelling visualization.


One quick glance would have made you aware of the campaign results. It presents all metrics in a simple and concise manner with all important details, expectations and achievements in one place making it easy to track the progress of the campaign. This is simple yet compelling visualization.

Standard: Good visualization needs standardized data structure and elements. The complexities and disparities in presented data should be handled flawlessly and the redundancy eliminated. Using common abbreviation, proper formatting, and identical scaling for charts along with consistent layouts across your data visualizations will help convey clear and concise insight. The dashboards will become much easier and quicker to understand when the information is standard and concrete. It will also create consistency across your organization.


Scalable: Scalable refers to a visualization project’s ability to accommodate growing volumes of data and data sources without a hitch. The increase should not impact the speed and performance of the reporting platform. In fact, the increase in data should make the visualization process and data model more efficient, effective and accurate. To increase visual scalability, proper selection of charts and diagrams should to be done and the right underlying scripts need to be written and presentation techniques should be utilized. These days tools have a lot of pre-defined visualization capabilities which were absent 5 years ago that give you a good head start; but this should not stop you from exploring opportunities to customize for interactive exploration of insights in real-time.


The campaign analytics tool shown above has the capability not to track one but as many campaigns as the credit union wants. The best part is that any added data from future campaigns helps make the base model more effective and scalable. The quantity of data has a positive relationship to robustness and reliability of insights. A highly scalable visualization tool will never disappoint by always providing better and useful insights.


Credit Unions might mistake buying a good visualization tool as their only hurdle to start utilizing it for better decision making. They still need access to technical and analytical resources and knowledge to create true business intelligence that best matches their needs. This is where third-party vendors and partners can play a vital role and be an invaluable resource. Irrespective of credit unions deciding to take up visualization as a DIY project or utilizing a third party for building it, they need to remember the 3s Standard, Simple and Scalable, on their journey of serving their members by drawing decisions based on useful and insightful visualization.

Categories: Credit Union Analytics, News Room