/ The New School of Dashboards

I like old school. Sometimes.

Cars, clothes, shoes, art…they can all be cool with a throwback style. But business intelligence, and dashboards in particular, is a different story. Cobbling together a few disconnected charts, throwing in a couple of stoplights and waiting for it all to refresh once a day used to qualify as a dashboard. Now, things are different.

Companies expect, or at least should expect, more from a business intelligence dashboard. I think there are many areas where traditional BI dashboards fall short. In particular, here are five reasons why solution seekers may want to reconsider their approach to choosing a dashboard:

1. Functionality — In the old school, self-service is an empty promise. While the website may tout ease of use, if you’re anything less than a computer science Ph.D., well, good luck with that. New-school dashboards shouldn’t be controlled by corporate gatekeepers. Why should we have to wait days or weeks to get a new piece of data in the dashboard, when I can go to Google and search millions of pages about why ice floats or find the perfect Family Guy clip for any situation in under a second? But that’s just a simple search, and it’s public information, you say? Shouldn’t matter.

2. Accessibility — Did you ever see the show Air Emergency on the National Geographic Channel? It examines plane crashes and explains what happened. And in almost every case, the accident occurred not because one thing went wrong but because six things went wrong at the same time. Business is no different. If the leads aren’t coming in or the deals aren’t closing, it’s usually because a lot of things are going wrong. If BI data isn’t accessible to a broad audience, and if that platform doesn’t let those people actually do something with the data and communicate about it, things aren’t going to improve. At least not quickly enough. New-school dashboards aren’t departmental, and they enable more than just seeing the data.

3. Flexibility — My wife is incredible, and we’ve been married for a long time. She’s still the most important person in my life, but the moves I used 15 years ago aren’t the same ones that work today. I still say, “I love you,” but nowadays I usually follow it up by cleaning the kitchen too. It’s the same with business metrics. If you’re a customer-service manager, you can’t rely on old-school customer-satisfaction surveys to assess your results. You now need a way to gauge social media sentiment. You need to hear what people are saying on Twitter and Facebook to understand how your company is viewed by customers. A new-school dashboard needs the flexibility to accommodate the changing ways we manage success.

4. Usability — We have a few dirty words here at Domo. Taboo phrases that’ll get you in hot water with our CEO. One of them is “that shade of blue is close enough,” but that’s a blog post for a different day. Another is “pivot table”. It’s not that pivot tables don’t have their place, but executives shouldn’t have to use them to evaluate the health of their business. Instead, new-school dashboards should deliver data in a simple, attractive format without requiring any kind of manual manipulation, beyond just drilling down to know more.

5. Honesty — I love a good massage, but if you start massaging my data before it gets to me, I get tense. As an executive, I want the straight story. The good and the bad. That’s how you affect change. Static, old-school dashboards can be manipulated to make the boss happy. I don’t want to be happy unless there’s something to be happy about. Give me a direct view into our data sources, no middle-management massage required. That’s the new school.

As you can see, at Domo, we have a very specific idea of what a business intelligence dashboard should be. If you’d like a little more background on our unique approach, I’d encourage you to download the executive brief, “The New School of Dashboards: 5 Reasons to Reconsider Your Approach.” Helpful reading for framing your strategy and requirements. Good luck.