IBCS connected design rules with music notation

Several days ago, I was attracted by the this Meetup title “IBCS® — What Data Analysts and Report Designers Can Learn From Musicians”. Then I immediately decided to attend this event for three key words that I believe I belongs to : data, design and musician.

Dr. Jürgen Faisst (bio)
Managing Director, IBCS® Institute (website)
Managing Partner, HICHERT+FAISST GmbH (website)

(source from eventbrite)

YouTube video talking about the same topic.

Okey, here is the brief introduction for the IBCS. IBCS stands for “INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION STANDARDS”. It’s open source and community friendly. IBCS claimed that they actually is not the organization to create the rules but the community does. IBCS has their software support company called SAP Analytics.

SAP YouTube channel

It took musicians 500 years to come up with the specific notation system but IBCS people understand these standards way faster.

Some key notes from the presentation.

  1. Introduced Warsaw Concerto. Brought the question of how do musicians recognized notation patterns easily without thinking of the note?

2. Take several business reports for example: Swiss Post, PWC, Phillip, etc. Some of them did a good job in their business report however some didn’t by not following the semantic notation / design rules.

3. Standards: Titles, data (not timeline based) needs to be vertically aligned, pay attention to color usage, decrease the application of donut / pie chart since it’s hard for us to compare between the two or more. Another point is fairly unnoticeable but still practical: if the data is big and there is no further space, don’t shrink the bar graph, increase the whole space, making the bar graph readable is more important than anything else.

The whole presentation gave me a whole different impression than the ones I attended before. It’s more a financial feeling instead of a tech/design feeling. In fact, I am the only designer who was in it, strangely no bankers , most of the audiences are business managers. It indicates that more and more financial managers pay more attention to the importance of readability and coherency in design. And they are not so satisfied with the static data visualization, they are thinking about embed the interactive data visualization into their report also, maybe in the near future. Moreover, user testing part using eye tracking technology will contribute more in their business report design.

From a business stand of view, how to persuade people to revamp their whole report? Get their CFO in table. lol..

Last but not least, the Meetup was fun, but no food! Give us food next time, haha.