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#63: Using Heatmaps

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 03, 2009
How can a consultant use "heatmaps" to display information?

Consultants absolutely must have strong command of a variety of ways to displays data. Previous Daily Tips have discussed these different styles and formats but not heatmaps. Heatmaps are two-dimensional representations of data that combine position, size and color for a rich presentation of complex data in a simple format. An example of a heat map for stocks shows sectors and subsectors (position), trading volume (size of blocks), and price trends (text and color). This allows, at a glance, to see what subsectors and sectors are advancing or declining, where trading is concentrated and the exact current share price movement. Although color is often the primary feature of a heat map, the layout can take the form of a grid, map, or table.

Tip: Several companies offer software to generate heat maps, some of whom also provide tutorials on their use. Think about a complex consulting engagement where you need to present status and trends for dozens of items and want to show al the data at once. For example, you have just evaluated thirty company offices in four divisions and have sales volume and trends data. A heat map will instantly show which stores in which sectors are most attractive and which ones are problems - much more effective than with a table.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  data visualization  presentations 

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