US 6169534 Graphical user interface for customer information management

ABSTRACT – A method and apparatus for displaying information regarding an event are provided. The method and apparatus meets objectives of increasing sales and marketing efficiency and efficiency of technical and customer support by providing a multi-dimensional display of event information to a user. As such, a radar screen-like presentation of data is generated that allows the user to see a visual representation of the best prospective opportunities based on the strategic business importance of an event. The method and apparatus functions by determining at least one event to be displayed and generating for graphical display an event object and label corresponding to the event. The radial location of the event object on the display is related to the stage of the particular corresponding event. The location of the event object on the display can also be indicative of other characteristics of the corresponding event. Each event object has variable size, color, and shape, all of which are indicative of characteristics of the corresponding event. In addition, a displayed event object may have an object tail which is indicative of characteristics of the corresponding event. The radar screen-like display may be comprised of sectors, and the location of an event object in a particular sector is indicative of a characteristic of the corresponding event. Each event object provides an electronic link to detailed information about the corresponding event.


The invention relates to the field of graphical user interfaces. In particular, the invention relates to a method of presenting event data on a graphics display.


In order to facilitate accurate decision making, it is desirable to be able to consider a maximum amount of available information in formulating a decision. Maximizing the amount of available information, however, often increases the difficulty of the decision making process, thereby reducing the accuracy of the corresponding decision. This is because the amount of information to be presented, assimilated, and considered in the making of business decisions can be significant in light of the current information age. Therefore, it is desirable to maximize the information presented to a decision maker while presenting the information in such a way as to be readily understood by the decision maker.

One approach to presenting information is to present raw information or statistics to a decision maker. This approach is generally not preferred because the large amount of time expended by the decision maker in understanding just what information they have is unacceptable.

Another frequently used approach is to organize the material for presentation using graphs and charts of the information. Many different forms of graphs and charts have been used in this approach, depending on the type of information to be presented. This approach can work well if the information is the type that is easily organized in graph or chart form. Again, however, information presented in graphs and charts can be difficult for the decision maker to assimilate, particularly when information relevant to an event must be compared with information relevant to other events.

Often, when there is a need to compare information from numerous events or transactions, there is a requirement to look at the historical statistics of a particular event. When the historical statistics of an event are relevant, it requires the concurrent presentation of historical data of the same type and format as the current data. It becomes extremely difficult to display historical data concurrently with current data in the same format on the same display using traditional graphs and charts. One reason for this difficulty is the limit in space available on a chart or graph. With limited space, for every historical characteristic that is displayed a characteristic of the current data must be deleted. This is especially true in the areas of business transactions, customer support, and sales where there is a large amount of relevant data for each event, and historical event data are critical to efficient decision making by sales and marketing personnel.

Therefore, it is desirable for everyone from the sales and support personnel to the chief executive officer to be able to take a quick look at significant transaction data and make an efficient determination as to the best potential business prospects to pursue or the most serious support problems to fix. Consequently, it is desirable to have an information presentation scheme to increase the efficient presentation of information in the general area of customer information management systems and contact management.


A method and apparatus for displaying events in a computer system are provided. According to one aspect of the invention, an event is determined for display. An event object is then generated for display corresponding to the event. The corresponding event object is displayed a determined distance from a central point on the display. The determined distance of the displayed event object is representative of one of a number of possible stages of the event. The central point of the display is representative of a final stage of the corresponding event, where the final stage can represent any event goal.

In one embodiment, the event determined for display may be a business transaction, for example a sales deal or a service to be performed. The size, color, and shape of the event objects are each indicative of characteristics of a corresponding event. An event may be displayed as a corresponding animated event object, with the animation showing the progression and regression of the corresponding event over a specified period of time. In addition, a displayed event object may further comprise an object tail. The length and direction of the object tail are each indicative of characteristics of the corresponding event. The display may also be divided into sectors in which the location of an event object in a particular sector is representative of another characteristic of the corresponding event. An event object provides an electronic link to a detail page which contains detailed information relating to the corresponding event.

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the accompanying drawings and from the detailed description and appended claims which follow.


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