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Why It’s Time to Go Beyond Traditional BI Dashboards in the Digital Age

June 20, 2019 No Comments

By Jake Anderson

All technology builds on that which came before it, and business intelligence (BI) is no different. Organizations aiming to stay competitive are seeking out the best way to capitalize on company data, including the latest in BI technology—like search-driven analytics and dashboard technology.

The goal today goes beyond having BI software available; it’s all about adoption, or how employees are actually able to get and use insights. This is exactly why it’s time to go beyond traditional business intelligence (BI) dashboards in the digital age.

Overcoming Limitations of Static BI Dashboards

Sure, static BI dashboards of years past looked appealing, full of colorful graphs and charts. But then you try to drill down into a data visualization model to get more information and you realize what you see is pretty much what you get. How are you supposed to answer questions—and the inevitable follow-up questions—that way? Well, you probably would have had to ask an IT or data specialist to dive into the data again, then create the data visualization you needed and add it to the dashboard.

As one Inc. contributor writes, “The data needs to move well beyond basic information that is nicely packaged in the form of a dashboard… if it’s going to generate actual value for your business.”

Data is only valuable when it drives good decision-making. This means organizations today need dashboards that tell employees what they need to know. Static is no longer sufficient; businesses need dynamic dashboards capable of interactivity so employees can drill down further and further to go beyond initial appearances.

Users today need a way to answer not just their original questions, but the questions that branch off these as they seek to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. The static nature of more traditional BI simply doesn’t cut it in this regard.

The Rise of Self-Service Data Analytics and BI Dashboards

There’s been a move toward self-service data analytics in the last few years—and for good reason. Now employees can run ad hoc queries, generate reports and create BI dashboards themselves using a self-service platform like ThoughtSpot.

But be careful to go beyond adopting “self-service analytics” that allows users to log in, view dashboards and customize the appearance of the tools they’re seeing. Traditional BI tools often give users the illusion of choice, when really they’re still looking at pre-packaged content they have little control over without the help of a dedicated analyst.

True self-service means users—even those without a technical background in analytics—can easily run their own queries and build dashboards based on their results. It’s no longer a matter of editing existing charts or updating last week’s dashboards. The tools on the market today democratize data by making it possible for all users to ask questions, get answers in seconds and format those answers as part of an interactive dashboard.

Embedded Dashboards Put BI Right into Workflows

Let’s be honest for a second: Whenever you require employees to leave their workflows and take an extra step to access something like a BI dashboard, the chances they’ll do so plummet. Convenience is key to widespread adoption. So, the embedded analytics available today integrate directly with the portals, applications and workflows organizations already use, putting insights where people will see them.

Here’s an example of embedded analytics in action, courtesy of Techopedia: A company has a context-specific dashboard displaying analytics on the likelihood of converting leads into paid customers. It’s embedded directly into its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. These analytics are displayed on a leads page, while a page within the CRM related to invoices displays a different dashboard with analytics related to outstanding payments due for the current time period.

Using AI to Automatically Generate Insights

But what about answers to questions business users didn’t yet ask? Advanced BI platforms today use artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically uncover hidden insights—like patterns and anomalies—and push them to dashboards. This makes the best BI dashboards treasure troves of previously unknown information upon which employees can act.

Long story short, putting an intuitive and dynamic dashboard directly into workflows gives people the best chance of harnessing it to drive smart decision-making. It’s time to go beyond traditional BI dashboards in our digital age because the tools are available—we no longer need to accept rigid one-size-fits-all approaches to analytics.

About the Author

Awestruck by Star trek as a kid, Jake Anderson has been relentless in his pursuit for covering the big technological innovations which will shape the future. A self-proclaimed gadget freak, he loves getting his hands on every piece of gadget he can afford.

DATA and ANALYTICS , SOCIAL BUSINESS

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