In my last post, I ruminated on the problems that plague business intelligence dashboards. Traditional dashboards simply haven’t evolved as quickly as modern businesses, where decisions are made by many levels of management and need to be informed by various areas of the business – finance, marketing, sales, operations and more. If your dashboard is confined to your department’s metrics alone, it’s doing you a disservice. Dashboards of the future will require cross-functional views of KPIs to really be effective. And they’ll embed more self-service options than ever. The good news is that future-proofing your dashboards is possible. Here’s how:
1) Make your dashboards searchable.
Key performance indicators are essential for monitoring business performance. Last time, I talked about how “KPI overload” – common in so many businesses I’ve worked with – can cloud business insight. However in some cases, having hundreds of KPIs may actually be necessary for understanding and managing your performance. If you need KPIs from many parts of the business in order to make good decisions, it can become a complex task to find the information you need. So consider making your dashboards search-enabled so that users can easily find the metrics they’re looking for. Searching is how users find information; “Google” is a verb for a reason. So why should your BI system be any different?
2) Make your dashboards personalized.
Dashboards serve as a point of reference for business leaders, many times per day or at least a few times per week. Either way, your dashboard should be one of the things you look at the most in a given week (besides your husband, wife, or kids of course). From a personalization perspective, there’s something we can learn from a social medial platform like Pinterest…
Business intelligence dashboards are stuck in the past. It may be controversial to say but it’s true – not much has changed over the past few decades when it comes to BI dashboards. Sure, we’ve defined some decent design rules, some guidelines for developing good, traditional dashboards. But a lot of the dashboards I see as VP of Solutions Delivery at arcplan don’t adequately address the needs of today’s executives, who need cross-functional views of KPIs from various departments in order to make good decisions. We aren’t living in a silo’ world; decision makers need regular access to KPIs from finance, marketing, sales, operations and HR to make good decisions. Do you have a dashboard that enables this kind of view?
If not, let’s examine what’s wrong with your BI dashboards:
1. Their silo’d foundation is a hindrance.
In the early years of data warehouse development, data was stored according to functional areas or departments. Finance, Sales, and Operations each had their own data marts and corresponding dashboards for each department. In today’s business environment, dashboards that are silo’d like your data don’t accommodate your needs. With hundreds or even thousands at KPIs in use at your company – and limited time to access and evaluate them all – a silo’d approach to data access is problematic. You need to access important information at a moment’s notice, not waste time logging into individual systems or viewing separate dashboards to get the data you need to make informed decisions. You’ve probably quickly grown weary of this process and you may even be settling for whatever information is most convenient to use, which – needless to say – is usually not the best option. An ideal dashboard solution bridges multiple information sources to give you a holistic view of the organization – one that matches your role and includes only relevant KPIs.
2. There’s a “Where’s Waldo?” element to finding the right KPIs.
Recently I had a meeting with one of arcplan’s customers in the US, who explained that their arcplan system has grown to manage 4,000 KPIs in just 5 years.
The Future of Dashboards
Speaker: Dwight deVera, SVP of Professional Services at arcplan
There’s something wrong with dashboards – they’re stuck in the past. They’re designed for functional areas or departments, but as a modern decision-maker, you might need to view cross-functional KPIs from finance, sales, operations, marketing, and HR to make good decisions. So how do you reconcile the dashboards you have with the views you actually need to be effective?
In this webinar, we demonstrate:
- Why dashboards need to reflect the matrix-style way decision-makers are working today
- The “31 flavors problem” and how dashboard users can distinguish the signal from the noise when it comes to thousands of potential KPIs
- How our internet-fueled, “zero attention span” lives must influence dashboard design
- A simple way to make dashboards more effective by empowering users to develop their own “Pinterest-style” dashboards
It’s time to rethink what dashboards should be. Peek into the future with us in this webinar!
Advice for using business intelligence to keep winning
I like to channel surf, and one day I got sucked into the game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” I never watched it when it originally aired, but now I’m addicted! The show is set up like a school quiz, with contestants earning money when they answer questions correctly. The kicker is that the questions are based on things we learn in elementary school…things that are quickly forgotten since they’re not tested in everyday life. Once I really got into the show, I realized there are business intelligence lessons to be learned from it.
On stage with the contestant are a few 5th grade students who can help if the person chooses to “cheat” as they pursue the $1,000,000 prize. Let’s examine how each of the available cheats tells us something about BI dashboards.
Peeking is encouraged. If a contestant is unable to answer a question on their own, a “peek” allows them to glance at a 5th grader’s answer and decide whether or not they would like to use it. How does that relate to BI you wonder? Think about the predictive nature of BI – it allows you to peek into what may happen in the future so you can take corrective action today. Especially valuable for businesses whose markets are volatile and sales growth may change from one quarter to the next, or for businesses whose production costs fluctuate depending on circumstances – predictive analytics, what-if scenarios, and break-even analysis eliminate some of the randomness from your decision-making. Luckily with solutions like arcplan, it’s easy to add predictive elements like regression analysis and Monte Carlo simulation to your dashboards. So really, peeking on “5th Grader” isn’t that different from modern BI.
Copying is expected.