The convergence of technology with business tact has accelerated the application and opportunity that data presents in tackling business problems. As the volume of data grows exponentially, the sophistication required to present and discern the same increases multifold.
The ability to comprehend and draw inferences from data has exponential potential. As it gives businesses a colossal advantage amidst the volatile competition. This ‘game-changing’ advantage creates an incumbent demand to fuse business fundamentals with data and analytics.
Progression into a Data-Driven World
Before contrasting dashboards with reports, let’s take a minute to understand the need and importance of precision data analytics amidst changing business landscapes. Over the years, businesses have adopted data management systems for obtaining, monitoring, analyzing, and gaining actionable insights to either identify new revenue opportunities or streamline internal processes. Therefore, data analytics presents a two-fold goal:
- One the one hand, to look for high-risk and high-impact models to expand operations, and,
- On the other hand, to effectively deploy data analytics to increase the efficiency of a business’ core models.
Over the past few years, data analytics has altered business dynamics, and this will only get better as data scientists around the work divulge deeper into machine learning. The ability to draw inference from customer interactions is a ‘business superpower’, because it generates information. And in an age of data, information is everything.
Fueling businesses with data insights would mean:
- Data generation and collection: Underlying the operations with a data architecture
- Data aggregation & analysis: Weaving analytics through the organization to derive data and data insights from data
- Data-driven performance: Incorporating data insights to direct business operations and actual workflow
While this sounds simple in theory, practically not all businesses are to capture the real potential of data and analytics to actually make/draw data visualizations that matter. And there are two sides to this story:
Emerging market leaders thrive on data:
The new industry leaders such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, etc, have been conceptualized based on data, and analytics features as a core in their operations. As opposed to spending billions on factories and manufacturing units, these companies invest in creating digital ecosystems, circumventing traditional barriers such as land, machinery, etc. The fluidity and flexibility of data in a digital ecosystem allows these companies to enter and disrupt markets at lightning speed.
Data analytics and the ability to draw data insights (through data dashboards) gives these businesses the ability to expand their operations, so much so that, they are able to dive into traditional businesses. For instance, Apple and Samsung have developed financial products. Inversely, can we imagine American Express developing smartphones?
Yesteryear companies to face serious hurdles tackling data-transformation:
For companies that have spent years in perfecting traditional methods, the transformation into data can be jumpy when done without a strategy. Years of traditional operations have to be transformed, and this can be difficult without the right organisational changes.
Evolution to Dashboards
As a result of innovation, Business Intelligence has led to the evolution of Dashboards from reports. Dashboards are a powerful visualization tool that enables the crème de la crème of businesses to decipher and interact with bits of cluttered data, fusing them into one solid ‘Big Picture’.
Why Choose Business Dashboard over Reports?
Dashboards give the convenience of ‘at-a-glance data’. When data is presented holistically, it helps the management see how their team is performing and how goals are being met. This gives significant value to businesses as they are able to get actionable insights.
The analysis of data that dashboards enables isn’t otherwise feasible through traditional spreadsheets and reports. Static documents don’t offer the flexibility of managing data and interacting with it in a way to draw conclusions. Apart from that, most dashboards are cloud-based and enables real time data visualisations.
|Reports are comprehensive static documents that contain blocks of text, tables, and graphs.||Dashboards help in dynamic data visualization, with the ability to display customized data based on specific metrics, KPIs, etc.|
|New reports are usually created periodically, meaning, data isn’t available in real-time.||Dashboards can be integrated in such a manner to show real-time changes by the minute.|
|Reports show the complete ‘slice’ of data, without giving the reader the ability to manipulate the representation as required.||Dashboards can be customised to be as narrow or as broad as required. It gives the flexibility to sort and organize data based on specific needs.|
|An organization having multiple departments would have diverse data requirements, leading to several reports. None of which can be interlinked||Since dashboards can be as narrow or as broad as required, they can be standalone or interlinked based on the needs of the organizations.|
Through dashboards, organizations make data-driven decisions. This is done by:
- Quickly identifying current performance and draw parallels from historical performance
- Set goals and right metrics that help analyze performance (Also, choose the right KPI)
- Identify and rectify performance issues
Dashboards offer Functionality
Successful dashboard implementation can save time across the organization, and thereby reduce unnecessary operational costs.
Dashboards give a visual correlation and causation between sets of numbers and this helps identify anomalies, which can be corrected through quick action. Since dashboards are linked with real-time data, which is regularly updated, it can prompt quick action in critical situations. With reports and spreadsheets, businesses would have to invest in long hours of analysis and long-wound communication, which is a serious business challenge.
When data is visualized in the form of charts, graphs, tables, and gauges, it helps keep a track on the health of the business through simpler representation. Complex strings of data and numbers can be made simpler to understand and monitor. For instance, even straightforward data like the volume of orders can be made visually informative by adding intuitive symbols to show decline or decline, etc. Benchmarking offers the ability to compare data points, draw inferences, track and analyze customer behavior, etc.
Reduce Human Errors
Data entry and data transfer errors are not unheard of when large amounts of data are manually handled. Data dashboarding is supported by data automation, this helps organize structured and unstructured data in a more meaningful way, minimizing errors that would otherwise compromise data integrity. When data is accurate, organized and structured, it helps the organization increase operational efficiency.
Purpose of a Dashboard isn’t Data Overload
Dashboards are not just to make reports aesthetically appealing, their purpose is to give recommendations and actions that would translate to business impact using the right context. A dashboard tells a clear story, therefore, assumptions and interpretations become unnecessary.
The biggest ‘sell’ of dashboards is that it gives real-time comprehensible information, anywhere and at any time. However, the fact of the matter is that despite their undisputed prevalence, dashboards aren’t given their ultimate due. The biggest barrier being the fact that companies are about to extract the value of data analytics because they struggle to draw data-parallels that would help them incorporate actionable insights to improve operational efficiency.