We are always looking for software applications that can enhance presentations and enable listeners to understand the speaker's message without falling into an hypnotic sleep. One of the biggest culprits of sending us all into the deepest of slumbers is DATA - line charts, pie charts, histograms, radar charts, scatterplots, the list can feel endless. Add a cacophony of colours and font sizes aimed at mice and it's hard to tell whether the company is flourishing or heading for bankruptcy.
During the height of the recession we spent some time working with one of the world's largest banking retailers who managed to to subdivide a slide into four quarters, thus reducing any monetary impropriety into insignificant specs…
That's why we really like Chartcube. The program grabs data from Excel and produces clear uncluttered charts, that enable you to drill down to find out more about what's going on. Although stunningly simple to use, the algorithms that make it tick must be pretty complex. The various charts are available within a cube display that can be flipped through to reveal differently ordered and filtered charts. Like many social media programs it enables users to very easily comment and share - allowing for further insights and discussions.
Founded by some of the former brains from eBay, Prezi, and Evernote, Chartcube is, at the moment, a free iPad application. We can't imagine it will always be free, so it's worth downloading and seeing what you can produce with it. Their promotional video is also well put together with its understated humour.
The inspiration for Chartcube came from Pankaj Tibrewal, who was formerly the COO of Pantaloons, one of India's largest fashion retailers. Pankaj got the idea whilst laying on the floor of a Pantaloons store desperately trying to explain what the retail metrics that had been printed on vast sheets of paper meant to his team. Here he explains:
"Managers typically spend 10 to 20 percent of their time making data-driven decisions. They review data in Excel, share insights in PowerPoint, and discuss with their teams in email. These antiquated tools make it difficult for people to get on the same page and the result is a 'Cycle of Indecision'. Chartcube helps by bringing together the data, the story and the discussion into one mobile app, so teams can make data-driven decisions with unprecedented efficiency and fun."
What Chartcube is really good at is the combination of data from Excel and say, Powerpoint, into one easy piece of software. It really does make it much easier to tell the story of the data - and if there is an anomaly then it's quick to spot it and make recommendations. At the moment data is pulled in from Excel via the Mail app or Dropbox, although we imagine other sources will come online in the coming months if not weeks.
The next time you need to display some data to a group try hooking up Chartcube to a display and flipping through your options. We’re pretty sure you’ll get your message across.