The topic of dashboards has quickly transformed from a luxury to a necessity
Inspired by the need to visualise data for executive management, nowadays pretty much every department is clamouring for data that is digestible in a glance.
While dashboards are no doubt sleek, not everyone will understand the details let alone know what they should do with data.
As dashboards multiply, the life of an analyst will get easier & harder at the same time: easier due to faster, cleaner dissemination of data; harder due to requests popping up from new recipients who are suddenly part of the data ecosystem.
The easier the data to merge, the more company data is interesting to company employees, the more the top-level involvement, the more dashboards you will see in your daily work.
That leads to following new assumption:
The quantity of dashboards will increase year by year, project by project. This will get more brains thinking in the language of data, which is good, but will also give voice to people who never handled data in the pre-dashboard days.
If a future dashboard does not have recommendations included, it will be a useless graphic. Recommendations about what to do next or even what to expect will happen next will be every bit as important as engaging design.
Data action is still the key element missing from most dashboards today. The next step of the dashboard development is including smart recommendations to further improve the communicated numbers.
The bigger the surface of the triangle below, the more you will need to find a solution to communicate data in a meaningful way:
If you apply this to your current situation:
– How easy is it to integrate data in your analytics tool?
– How easy is it to merge data?
– How engaged are you with company data?
– How many power users vs normal users would you have in your company?
– How involved is top level in understanding or acting on data?
If power users are focused solely on analytics, you might not even need a dashboard: They would already know what the data tells them.
Dashboards will solve old problems (merging and visualising data in a comprehensible way) as it creates new ones (introducing complexity outside of peoples normal comfort zone). They are a turning point that change how we consume data, not a tipping point that enable anyone-and-everyone to suddenly be an expert analyst.
Brainpower will still be needed to dive into data deliverables, expertise will still be needed to link different sources and create a more powerful overview.
A dashboard that turns pure figures into colourful visualisation might be a nice first step, but will also not solve your mission: maximising profit, acting on data, recommending upcoming actions.