Skype ROI Visualised with Animated Infographics

Over the last two and half years we have worked with Skype on a number of projects including some strategic and marketing initiatives. You can read our case studies here. One of these projects was to develop an online Return On Investment (ROI) calculator for Skype’s internal sales team and Channel Partners to show potential business customers the savings they could achieve using Skype Connect. Skype Connect is a service that allows an enterprise to connect its phone system to Skype.

Streamlining the Sales Process

Calculating savings and ROI for telecoms solutions, especially for large enterprises, can be complex. For a sales person, this involves sifting through lots of data such as how much a business is paying to call each international destination. Normally the data is processed manually with a spreadsheet. This is time consuming and can hamper initial sales discussions, requiring a of lot input from your potential customer.

To solve this problem and to keep momentum during initial discussions with customers, Skype asked Voxygen to develop a quick and easy way to provide an indicative savings quote without placing too much burden for information on the customer. Our response was to design an ROI tool that would produce an accurate quote from basic information, which could be shown onscreen in a meeting or sent directly to the customer.

Making Data Engaging

Early on we saw an additional opportunity to utilise data visualisation. This was compelling for two reasons. First, to help the customer to understand and compare the numerical information and facts. We felt that the quote data would transfer really well to a graphic language of scale and form.  Secondly, brand positioning. The design of information is not just about the communication of facts. It also communicates a company’s brand and personality. The intention was to design a quote tool that would reinforce Skype’s brand as an accessible innovator whose products “just work”. There was no tool like this available from other providers.

The data visualisation designs had to work both on screen and in print – a feature of the ROI tool was that quotes could be converted to PDF. We wanted the PDF design to include both the visualisations and the data tables that underpin them. The visualisations also had to cope with a wide range of data, varying according to business size.

Early Concepts

Once the layout of the input form was understood, we worked to design a data visualisation for each of the five sections of the quote. A total of eight visualisations would be needed. Here are some of the early concepts for visualising the Overall Saving. The concept uses form to illustrate change and scale to illustrate cost, supported by simple bold numbers.

 

We opted to develop version three which was iterated into the final version below.


The visualisation for telecoms infrastructure is more complex as it has to cater for more items. We switched the axis in the initial concept so a side by side comparison could be made. This idea was then extended to all the data visuals so that they mirrored the side by side layout. This made the left right comparison a consistent theme of the ROI tool.

As the key information is entered online, each of the five sections of the form can be ‘flipped’ to show the resulting visualisation. Animating infographics was a trend which was highlighted at last year’s Design of Understanding Conference. The medium, which began in print, is increasingly tapping into the possibilities of digital. We engineered the data visualisations so they would animate in real time when the input figures are changed.

Here is the phone calls section where only total minutes and price per minute are needed. As data is entered for each calling destination, the quote tool produces a real time cost comparison and data visualisation, which can be viewed by clicking “show visual”.

 

This section has three data visualisations.

National Savings

 

International Distribution

International Calling Table

 

The data visualisations provide an easy way of comparing the current business solution with Skype, with particular emphasis placed on the potential savings. The eight visualisation designs cover all the key decision drivers including changes to telecoms infrastructure, distribution of phone minutes expenditure both locally and internationally, maintenance and other upfront costs. After viewing online, the data tables and visualisations can be outputted to a single PDF that can be sent to the customer.

The ROI tool enables Skype sales and Channel Partners to quickly produce an accurate and engaging quote for Skype Connect. We think the use of data visualisations both helps knowledge transfer and presents the information in an interesting way.

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