Business intelligence (BI) dashboards have served a useful purpose in the evolution of executive decision-making. For starters, they’ve provided senior management with a glimpse into business and operating conditions that can be discussed and potentially acted on.
If an area of the company is underperforming, or if a dashboard indicates that a segment of the company’s customer base is dissatisfied, these insights could prompt management to conduct a deeper dive on the problem, typically with the assistance of the IT department.
Therein lies the rub. Although BI dashboards have provided some level of information to managers and executives in the past, they’re archaic tools for meeting the needs of today’s real-time business leaders. Because there are numerous shortcomings associated with BI dashboards, it’s probably best to break these down.
One of the greatest limitations of dashboards is that their information is often days, if not weeks, old. To keep pace with customer and market swings (e.g. negative customer sentiment regarding service quality), or a sudden change in operational efficiency (e.g. a recent drop in employee productivity), business leaders need to view and decipher operational and market conditions as they occur in real time.
The Data Isn’t Actionable
Another drawback with dashboards is inherent in their designs and the processes used to support them. In most cases, data is gathered by a data analyst or someone from the IT organization who generates a report, or a series of reports, that’s then entered into the dashboard for a team of managers or executives to view.
The information that’s presented is typically one-dimensional, where the users of the dashboard aren’t able to manipulate the data themselves or probe more deeply into the data. They can only view the information that’s presented and make their own best judgments against it.
Dashboards Don’t Inform
Perhaps the biggest drawback with dashboards is that they fail to provide direct knowledge about the data. Dashboards are typically comprised of bar charts, scatter plots, pie charts, or line charts. Dashboards don’t provide story lines that tell viewers what’s happening.
These charts typically require executives to interpret results, but they don’t offer correlations between data points or visually connect trends as they’re occurring (e.g. a recent fee change made by a retail bank that has resulted in customer churn). They also don’t offer executives the next best action that they can take based on a comprehensive analysis of the data and events.
Ultimately, dashboards fall short for senior executives and other decision makers. They don’t allow business leaders to drill down into the data, gain deeper insights into what’s happening with the business, or spot correlations between trends and outcomes.
To keep in stride with ever-changing business conditions, managers and executives need real-time predictive analytics they can use themselves, allowing them to probe data and make visual connections between emerging trends and current conditions.
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