Whether a retailer wants to open a new location, start a new product line or tweak a supply chain—or make any changes to her business at all—she first needs the right data. But not all business professionals have access to the data they need. As we see in Domo’s “The Big BI Disappointment” survey, 93% of professionals report that they rely on data to do their job well. But the number of professionals that can actually use their data is a different story:
- 57% don’t have access to the data they need
- Only 20% feel that the data answers their questions
- 68% regularly have difficult making sense of their data
But the biggest problem I see is that some retailers don’t even realize that they have a data problem. That’s why I want to hit three quick points about how a dashboard can bridge the gap between the data you have and the insights you need:
1. Get all your data on the same page.
Before you can use your data, you have to be able to trust it. That almost always involves a mess of data sources and one huge spreadsheet as you try to reconcile what different data sources are telling you. I see these three problems every time a retailer relies on cobbling together data by hand:
- Inaccurate data — It’s hard enough trying to compare data from multiple systems. The data isn’t configured to work together, human error is rampant and the analysis takes a long time (think “apples to oranges”).
- Incomplete data — It’s tough to see the big picture when there are missing pieces of the puzzle. Putting all your data in one place helps you see everything you need, when you need it.
- Stale data — Retail data changes constantly, and you can’t afford to act on data that no longer represents the current state of your business.
A dashboard (if it’s any good) will get between you and your data sources so that you don’t have to do the legwork of gathering and reconciling data.
2. Get data in real time
No matter how well you have handled business without real-time data, you’re virtually guaranteed to improve efficiency when access to your data is available as business happens.
It’s like having a flat tire—you can fix it several days later, but driving on it is going to cause more problems than if you had found it and fixed it immediately. So if there’s a hitch in the supply chain or a change in sales, you need to fix the problem before you end up losing revenue. Any delay in getting that information and making the right decisions translates directly to dollars lost.
3. Make data visible to decision-makers
We’ve grown accustomed to waiting for reports from several places, and BI teams or IT teams are often the gatekeepers to all the data. We executives have been happy to let them hold the keys, because we just don’t have the time to deal with multiple systems.
But abdication is not delegation—and where data is concerned, we can’t afford to abdicate access to our most important asset. Now more than ever, retail leaders need access to critical data without having to go through another department to get what they need. That means your dashboard has to make the data accessible to the people who need it most.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
We all invest in data. But we’ve been trained to accept inefficiencies in how we access, consume and use the data in which we’ve already invested. We can generate more revenue and run a more efficient business when we get all our data in one place. Retailers don’t have to accept the status quo of separate systems and confusing reports: demand more from your data experience, and you’ll find the system that is built to fit the bill.