The best dashboard ever

There's hunger for dashboards outside. You can buy books about creating dashboards, you can hire consultants to create dashboards, you can spend a lot of time and a lot of money hunting your dashboard dream. The truth is, the best dashboard is very simple.

The only dashboard that anyone would ever need has three pieces.

At the top, there's a line chart, and the line goes always up. There's no explanation of axis or whatever (you can guess time is running to the right and money is running to the top but who knows and who cares). The only goal of the chart is to make you happy. The line's going up, hurray!

Then there are traffic lights on the left. The light tells you how you're doing. Is it green? Perfect. Is it yellow? Do something. Is it red? It's too late to do anything (however the line's going up, so you have enough time to pack your box and quit the job in a decent way).

Finally, there a text box telling you what to do. If the light is green, it's telling you what to do to keep it green. If the light is yellow, it's telling you what to do to make it green again. (If the light is red, don't waste your time reading the text box, just go, go!)

Now there's more than a joke in this dashboard. A friend of mine who's running a very small business has recently told me that BI tools are useless for her. "I don't need to slice and dice my sales, I don't need to measure how good my campaigns are," she has complained. "I just need to know what to do next."

Her point was clear: It's good to know your sales are decreasing for the last 6 months. And it's better to know that it's all because 85% of your existing customers in South Africa have declined your renewal package. Maybe you knew it without BI, maybe not. However even if it's a new fact for you, it's not telling you how to deal with it, how to fix it.

Davenport, Harris, and Morison are describing it in their recent book Analytics At Work as a shift from information to insight. Fully automated BI tools can help you with information: what happened, what is happening now, and what will happen.

To understand how and why did it happen, what's the next best action, and what's the best/worst that can happen, you need something more. You need people who can make the shift: understand information, and get insight out of it.

These people will create the dashboard discussed above, and it will be the best dashboard ever.

1 comment:

Rafael Alencar said...

Well said, very good text! Congrat