Dashboards must truly dash when it comes to business performance
Julie Holmes, director Product Strategist, from the Hubble Team at insightsoftware.com explained: The Model T Ford had just one lever and a single gauge on its dashboard. As Ford had promised of the automobile earlier:
“It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.”
With his simple, well-designed dashboard, he took leading-edge technology and shaped it into a practical tool.
Over a hundred years have passed, and dashboards have evolved beyond recognition. Now we rely on them not only to drive our cars, but also to drive our businesses.
Business dashboards are the most powerful tools to be offered to the enterprise world since the start of data capturing. And yet, despite many efforts to provide such valuable insight, few current solutions offer anything like the full potential for dashboards. Worse, too many rely on a convoluted system that is far too similar to those car dashboards that required an expert to manage them.
What Drives the Need for Business Dashboards?
Data volumes are increasing at ridiculous speeds – from megabytes to gigabytes to terabytes. It’s more important than ever to be able to consume, or reject, information quickly and easily.
A business dashboard is a valuable tool that shapes data into understandable insights through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), metrics, and other critical data points. With graphic data, we can better digest complex information and make business decisions at the actual speed of business.
• The need for visibility: The faster you’re driving your business; the further ahead you need to see on the road. Without clear visibility, you may play safe, slow down, and get left behind. Or you may try to rely on past memories of the route– not wise in a fast-moving world! The best business dashboards can move just as fast as your business and keep the road wide open and clear for you to see the whole way.
• The need for acceleration: In a dynamic business environment, conditions evolve by the second. Time-consuming reporting processes simply can’t keep up. You can’t expect to have time for the back and forth between IT and Finance (and the multiple other departments involved), multiple revisions, data dumps, and pivot tables. It’s a mess. It’s always been a mess. Dashboards allow people to see, understand, and take action on information directly when it’s needed.
• The need for agility: It’s also about reaction time. How quickly can you move focus and direction? In business you need GPS-type agility: an automatic warning if you’re off-course and an instant revision of the route after a wrong turn. That type of agility doesn’t come by sifting through pages of data from static reports.
• The need to stand out: Competitive advantage is key. Let’s be honest—you’re not the only one investing in IT to drive performance. Business dashboards open up a new way to generate revenue and create differentiation. Sharing reliable information between departments helps to align efforts. Just–in-time manufacturing can feed on sales forecasts, while Sales can use a customer’s payment history as part of the negotiation on the next deal. Flexible and easy-to-consume dashboards help distribute information more freely in and between departments. You can even share relevant information securely with customers.
• The need to walk tall: Dashboards bring everyone together on the same page for a shared result – building confidence in the data, your people, and your business.
What Makes a Good Dashboard?
Ease of use. The best business dashboards also predict what a user needs and provide it. Easily.
Business people often assume they just need more data, whether in their reports or their dashboards. Often, what they really need is the right data.
The best dashboards make it personal. A dashboard that is customizable to personal preferences increases usability and end-satisfaction. Decision-making is better served that way than by broadcasting out standard dashboards that users either resent or ignore. A good business dashboard gives every user the flexibility to personalize it on the spot to match their needs or preferences.
Finally, dashboards should keep it organized. Users should be able to group relevant information together to tell a story. Their story, for their department, for their business.
Dashboards are leading business into exciting new territory. As functionality increases, ease and simplicity still hold sway. A well-designed visual display fosters better, faster decisions for your business.
The author of the blog is Julie Holmes, director Product Strategist, from the Hubble Team at insightsoftware.com
About the author:
Julie is a certified KPI Professional and brings her enthusiasm, passion and 18+ years of ERP/Analytics experience to every conversation. With an international background in ERP implementation specialising in Finance, she has the systems expertise to understand the technology. Add to that her time spent as a Financial Systems Director where she acutely felt the pain of getting the right answers to the business and her motivation becomes clear. Formerly the JDE EnterpriseOne Financials Product Manager, Julie has been with insightsoftware.com for almost 10 years leading the Analytics strategy. She loves designing solutions that help customers focus on what really matters to their business through visualised KPIs and scorecards.
Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @ VanillaPlusMag OR @jcvplus
Digital services transformation – are we there yet? New analyst insight report
We’re delighted to bring you our specially-commissioned VanillaPlus Digital Transformation Insight. The Insight contains an exclusive Analyst Report written for VanillaPlus by Stratecast | Frost & Sullivan analysts Karl Whitelock and Troy Morley