Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Signs That Your BI Dashboard Needs a Comeback


dashboard-comebackEveryone loves a good comeback. Stories about celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Britney Spears climbing back to the top after falling so far capture our collective imagination. Movies like Rocky and Cinderella Man – about underdogs making a comeback – inspire us to think we ourselves can rebound from any setback.

Is your business intelligence dashboard the underdog at your organization? Dashboards have been around for decades, with some companies not putting the time and effort into updating them regularly to keep pace with the innovations in BI and the growing expectations of users.

Done correctly, BI dashboards are indispensable resources for decision makers, capable of bringing the most pertinent information to the forefront so leaders can take action. Conversely, BI dashboards that fall short of meeting the needs of business leaders will take a back seat in the BI toolbox or be forgotten about entirely. In order to keep decision makers coming back for more, BI dashboards must serve up relevant information, keep pace with new trends in technology, and at the same time maintain visual appeal. Read on for the 3 reasons why your BI dashboard may need a comeback.

Your KPIs aren't KPIs
You've heard this saying time and time again – measure what matters. This principle is at the core of great dashboards. By honing in on the 6-8 most relevant key performance indicators for their role, a BI dashboard can help users quickly access important data and take action. The problem is often in determining what those KPIs should be. KPIs and metrics are not the same thing. KPIs can be an aggregation of multiple metrics; for example, a "Customer Satisfaction" KPI might be the result of product satisfaction scores from customer surveys, the company's Net Promoter Score, and the customer retention rate. Application designers should reconnect with dashboard users to ensure that the right KPIs, not just metrics, are represented on their dashboards and that they're still relevant and represent their current goals.

It's not mobile
Mobility is an undeniable trend that influences the way people work and do business. IDC forecasts that the mobile workforce will exceed 1 billion people (or 37.2% of the total workforce) by 2015. Gartner predicts that by 2015, over 50% of mobile BI users will rely exclusively on mobile devices for insight delivery, and will grow BI users by 20%. What do these trends mean for your BI dashboard? If it's not mobile, it will get left behind. The BYOD phenomenon is very real, and with workers using a range of devices to get their work done, there exists the expectation that important business applications will be accessible on any mobile device. Mobilizing your BI dashboard is likely to increase its adoption rate, usability, and shelf life.

It has a face only a mother could love
People want to use apps that are visually appealing. A friend of mine is an internal application developer for a billion dollar corporation. He created a custom CRM for a division of the company, and despite the many things that were good about it, all anyone could talk about was the poor user interface. Adoption remained low until it got a facelift.

We've established that a dashboard must have substance, but the interface must also be easy on the eyes. Data should be presented using the most appropriate chart type so it can be easily digested by the end user. A pleasing color palette goes a long way (try this online color wheel), and incorporating stoplight indicators that are symbols (checkmarks, Xs, etc) rather than red, yellow and green circles ensures that the color blind are accounted for. Make labels and headings clear, jazz up your fonts to something beyond Times New Roman and Arial, and incorporate mobile design guidelines to keep your dashboards interactive and clutter-free.

Decision makers at all levels want easy access to complex data and dashboards are the perfect vehicle. An old BI dashboard can be dusted off and made ready for a comeback if you understand how user expectations have evolved and are willing to put some effort into meeting them.

Have a story of how you made an old dashboard new again? Leave a comment!

Monique Morgan

About Monique Morgan

I'm the Marketing Project Manager at arcplan and work out of our Wayne, PA office. I'm originally from Jamaica but came to the US for college and I've been here ever since. I'm the voice behind a lot of arcplan's videos on YouTube - check them out here:
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