Since the dawn of analytics, the dashboard has been the primary window into the metrics and numbers that describe your business. Today the dashboard is beginning to fail as a tool since the data describing your business has exploded so quickly. You need to start thinking beyond the dashboard.
Dashboards don’t show you the whole picture
The typical analytics dashboard can capture somewhere between 6 and a dozen metrics about your business. Even so, most companies have many different dashboards that cover different aspects of the business and different functions allowing a company with 10 dashboards the ability to constantly track almost 100 different metrics every day.
That sounds like a lot, but the average business has roughly 250k dimensions of their data. These dimensions include customers by age, gender, location and products by type, price, etc. If you were to track 100 metrics across 10 dashboards you still only follow 0.04% of the metrics of your business, which is almost nothing at all. Even if you track your overall revenue, you aren’t tracking all the different components of revenue and all the drivers that might affect it in the future. You are looking in the rear view mirror instead of the windshield.
As data continues to explode, the number of dimensions is growing faster every quarter, and adding more and more dashboards is not the answer. How many dashboards can you really have? One company we know spent 3 hours every Monday reviewing 36 executive dashboards and still didn’t have a strong sense of how the business was changing.
The answer is to focus on insights instead of the dashboard. You need a way to sort through those 250k dimensions automatically and let you know when and if you should focus on any of them, without the need to check dozens of dashboards every day.
Dashboard confessionals: Find Surprises Outside your Dashboard
An excellent example of thinking outside the dashboard is a large quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain that uses Outlier to analyze all of their point of sale (POS) terminal data. With hundreds of products per store and thousands of locations, it is impossible to analyze the sales of each product in each store manually, but Outlier does that for them automatically with its Automated Business Analysis Platform.
Recently, Outlier identified a 2x jump in fountain drink sales in a single store that had been closed for renovations for a few weeks. It turns out that the staff at this store had not set the layout back to the original after the renovations and had accidentally stumbled upon a much better layout! This type of insight would never have been found by a human, but Outlier’s Automated Business Analysis platform found this insight and the QSR is exploring rolling out this new layout to more stores.