Has your business intelligence software under-delivered on value? I don’t only mean the ROI of your BI – I also mean simply how valuable BI is to your organization. Is its use engrained in your company culture? If it’s not, you’re in the majority. By some estimates, 80% of corporate data isn’t accessed by BI users. How important to your culture can BI be if it’s only touching 20% of your data? But this isn’t an article about big data or social data – this is an article about changes you can make this year to improve how valuable BI is to your company, to increase the number of users who rely on it, and to make it essential to your everyday operations. You’ve likely paid between $100,000 and $1,000,000 for your BI system – why not squeeze every last drop of value out of it?
1) Pump customer data into your analysis
Is there a company in the world who can say “We have access to all the data we need about our customers”? A 360 degree view of customers is something every company seems to be chasing. Though it might seem like an elusive goal, you can take the first steps by integrating data from your CRM, accounting and customer support systems into your BI dashboards and reports to enable analysis of customer growth, profitability, and lifetime value. Understanding these KPIs can help you spot trends, identify opportunities to cross-sell, up-sell or simply target them more effectively. Your BI platform likely connects data from multiple sources, so why not take advantage of this inherent value by getting your platform to assemble the necessary data for you so you don’t waste time manually integrating data from all these different systems. It might not be quick to incorporate customer analytics into your BI initiative, but more companies are finding it essential to the continued value of their business intelligence and the success of their company.
Learn more about customer analytics in our blog series, which starts here.
2) Set up alerts and delivery
Everyone 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…
There’s a lot of discussion happening in the BI world right now over data visualization. On the one hand, you have analysts pushing the idea that data visualization = visual data discovery = self-service BI = advanced BI. I’ve seen Gartner and Aberdeen both touting the idea that data visualization and data discovery are the same and that they’re the key to unlocking analytics for more users in your enterprise.
On the other hand, you have organizations who think data visualization = dashboards. They want to present their data graphically, have some interactive capabilities like drill-down and drill across, and use advanced features like animated graphs and motion charts.
At arcplan, we offer our customers all types of data visualization, from sophisticated desktop and mobile dashboards to visual ad-hoc reporting. Today let’s examine some of the dynamic, interactive visualizations you can employ in your BI dashboards to enhance data visibility and tell stories that are more expressive than static charts.
Motion Charts for Trend Analysis
A motion chart is a dynamic chart that shows the flow of data across a dimension – for example, time. It’s a great way to look at large amounts of data at once to discover patterns.
For example, a sales manager may want to conduct a trend analysis for the company’s product line over the course of a year to analyze profits and losses for a set of product categories. A motion chart provides a more dynamic option than a table of numbers. By simply sliding the time bar along the x-axis, the sales manager obtains a visual of the fluctuations in the product categories over time. It’s the difference between reading a book and watching a movie on the same topic: though the information is the same, a visual aid allows some users to better absorb it.
Zoom Line Chart for Dynamic Drill-Down
Don’t be fooled by this ordinary looking line chart…
arcplan’s Senior Vice President (and frequent author on this blog) Dwight deVera is featured on TDWI.org for his article, How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards. He covers how Responsive Design, HTML5, Self-Service and Collaboration are already beginning to influence BI dashboard design and why you need to get on board with these trends. Check out the article and let us know what you think!
How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards
Dashboards equal business intelligence (BI) to many people. They have been around for decades without substantial changes. Over time, we have refined the rules of dashboard design, deciding what makes dashboards most functional and efficient. Times are changing and dashboards must adapt to shifting user requirements. Mobility is encroaching on traditional dashboard usage and users are demanding self-service capabilities, less IT interference, and a greater say in what corporate data is useful and relevant. Future-proofing your dashboards is imperative if they are to continue delivering value.
Responsive Design + HTML5 = BI Anywhere
According to TechRepublic’s BYOD Business Strategy Survey, 62 percent of companies either already have Bring Your Own Device allowances in place or plan to by the end of 2013. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices in daily life, workers have become accustomed to switching between gadgets according to the task at hand — smartphones for calls and quick searches, tablets for Web browsing and e-mails on the go, and laptops for more time- and labor-intensive activities. However, switching devices and accessing BI apps is not always so effortless.
A new design concept is making it easier than ever to build and deploy BI apps that can be used on any device without the need for extra development…
In my last post, I ruminated on the problems that plague business intelligence dashboards. Traditional dashboards simply haven’t evolved as quickly as modern businesses, where decisions are made by many levels of management and need to be informed by various areas of the business – finance, marketing, sales, operations and more. If your dashboard is confined to your department’s metrics alone, it’s doing you a disservice. Dashboards of the future will require cross-functional views of KPIs to really be effective. And they’ll embed more self-service options than ever. The good news is that future-proofing your dashboards is possible. Here’s how:
1) Make your dashboards searchable.
Key performance indicators are essential for monitoring business performance. Last time, I talked about how “KPI overload” – common in so many businesses I’ve worked with – can cloud business insight. However in some cases, having hundreds of KPIs may actually be necessary for understanding and managing your performance. If you need KPIs from many parts of the business in order to make good decisions, it can become a complex task to find the information you need. So consider making your dashboards search-enabled so that users can easily find the metrics they’re looking for. Searching is how users find information; “Google” is a verb for a reason. So why should your BI system be any different?
2) Make your dashboards personalized.
Dashboards serve as a point of reference for business leaders, many times per day or at least a few times per week. Either way, your dashboard should be one of the things you look at the most in a given week (besides your husband, wife, or kids of course). From a personalization perspective, there’s something we can learn from a social medial platform like Pinterest…