Case study: Using a Big Picture to bring complex data to life


isfpicClient: Information Security Forum

The ISF (Information Security Forum) is a not-for-profit membership organization providing syndicated business consultancy and advice on information security to over 300 members.


ISF embarked on a project called ‘The Role of Information Security Enterprise’ (RISE) to explore where information security should sit in an organization.  The project involved a series of meetings around the globe talking to senior executives to discover what they wanted from information security, where they thought it should go and how it could help the business.


This research generated a massive amount of complex, multi-dimensional data in a wide variety of formats – from anecdotal to powerpoint presentations and survey questionnaires.  The challenge facing ISF was to present this in a compelling and different way because a standard report format simply wouldn’t be able to convey the complexity, enthusiasm, passion and vitality that the results had.


ISF decided that a way to preserve the vitality of their data was to express it in the form of a road map or journey.  A search for ‘rich pictures’ quickly led Adrian Davis to Delta 7 but an initial challenge was to convince his team that a visual output was the best solution.  However, within the first hour of meeting Delta 7, the ISF team had the basis of the rich picture and in Adrian’s words: “Everyone took one look at it and went: ‘That’s it!’. There was no argument after that.”


Adrian Davis: “It had it all. It had the visual simplicity yet it had all the things we wanted to really bring out. So even though the rich picture is quite a detailed drawing when you look at it, all the key points are there. They’re all there. They all are different from each other and they all stand out from each other. And people just got it straight away. People just looked at it and went: Yep, I get this.

What made it work was a good data set that was well-organized, good mental model of what I wanted – and then Delta 7′s ability to take raw numbers and statistics and words and turn them into pictures.

It’s one of the most, if not the biggest downloaded item from our members-only website.  We’ve used it at our own member events and we’ve used it as part of our marketing and everybody stops. Everybody stops.

Even if people who don’t like it or don’t really get it, it’s fabulous for getting the conversation started and it gets people engaged, which is exactly what a rich picture should do. Overall, the time it took was very short really, from me thinking about it to getting it all done was probably less than a month.  I still think it’s probably been the best money I’ve spent in the last 3 or 4 years on a project.  It’s got the wow-factor;  it’s got all the facts and it’s got all that engagement you just don’t get with slides and printed reports.”

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