We are visual creatures and so for most of us, Seeing is believing. In the business environment however; seeing is understanding especially where data is concerned.
According to a research by Microsoft, the human attention span has declined from 12 seconds in the 2000s (when smartphones hit us) to 8 seconds today. We are also bombarded by different kinds of information from different sources which means that we need to find new and exciting ways to present data if we want anyone to make anything out of it.
Data Visualization allows us to make sense out of data to understand it and it also has the option of tweaking a few variables to see their effect on business operations, etc. This can be done using a dashboard report which transforms data into compelling insights that can be used to access the company’s future or to make key business decisions.
What is a dashboard?
A dashboard is a tool used in business to extract value from data collected.
The term is adopted from automobiles where in a car; there are a variety of moving parts that affect the car’s performance, and which must be monitored to ensure the car moves smoothly and any faults/challenges are detected before they heavily and negatively impact the user. Likewise, in any business, there are moving parts that affect its performance and monitoring these provide a clear picture of the business past, direction and future. It is then possible to know what is working and what needs to be improved on.
A dashboard can help you make informed decisions with the knowledge of how they impact the business performance and ultimately how they affect your bottom-line.
Types of Dashboards
- Analytical Dashboards– This is a dashboard that contains past data and which businesses can use to identify future trends or make future business decisions. It should be interactive to enable an analyst to deduce different outcomes from the same data.
- Operational Dashboard– This is a dashboard most commonly used in businesses as it contains business metrics that update in real-time hence giving data useful for daily business operations. An example is a sales dashboard that can be inputted by the minute as they trickle in.
- Strategic Dashboard– This is a dashboard used to track a company’s performance based on selected Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The objective of a strategic dashboard is to ensure that any company actions are aligned to the strategy. This is the best kind to incorporate different departments and business sections.
Importance of using dashboards
- Dashboards aid in making better and more informed business decisions that are based on certain factors as opposed to decisions based on opinions or feelings.
- They simplify access and presentation of data especially if they come from multiple sources and for huge amounts of data. This saves on time and energy.
- A dashboard allows one to drill into detail to get a deeper understanding of a particular outcome, certain trends and derive more information from data presented.
- The customizable aspect of dashboards allows each person to derive their own information based on the department they work in or the detail/information they require. This means that a dashboard can have different users and can satisfy different expectations.
- Dashboards are intuitive and hence most do not require certain expertise or knowledge or professionals to enable one to navigate through the data.
- A dashboard compresses many reports into one hence you get to have an overall situation of your performance.
- Dashboards deal with the challenge of making errors which is most likely when you have and are dealing with multiple reports.
- Dashboards help to transform boring report to more exciting and interactive ones.
Do you need a dashboard?
Before you dismiss dashboards as something only the finance or sales people need, here are signs that you too may be required to learn how to use it.
- Your business decisions are based on opinions, feelings or are copied from what a competitor is doing.
- You collect large amounts of data but do not know what to do with it.
- You are not getting a Return on Investment (ROI)
- You want to have a fair advantage against your competitors.
- You feel like your company or business is not exploring its full potential
- You are a job seeker and want to learn new skills useful in the business environment and which can land you that top job.
Where do you start?
Register for our Dashboards Reporting in Excel course scheduled for March 14th and March 15th 2019.