What is an analytic dashboard? Do you agree it needs all 5 elements?

Just like your car’s dashboard, an analytic dashboard brings the firm’s key market-based metrics into a single display. In the book “It’s not the Size of the Data, It’s How You Use It: Smarter Marketing with Analytics and Dashboards”, I define a dashboard as

coverpagea concise set of interconnected performance drivers to be viewed in common throughout the organization

Let’s break down the 5 key elements of our dashboard definition:

1)         Concise set: a dashboard’s purpose is to help users focus their attention on a few metrics. However, different users often focus on different metrics (typically the ones they can influence and/or that they are evaluated against) and some people are comfortable with more metrics than others, much like an airplane pilot navigates a bigger dashboard than a car driver does. Dashboards solve this issue by allowing users to ‘drill down’ to different page views with more detailed metrics and to customize the display to the user’s preferences.

2)         Interconnected: a simple scorecard of metrics does NOT a dashboard make: the dashboard should help users understand how the business works and how their (proposed) actions can change the (predicted) performance! To this end, a dashboard needs an underlying (back-office) model that connects the metrics. Just like car drivers, dashboard users need to know what happens when they hit the brakes or shift gears, but they do not need to know exactly how the engine operates under the hood. Still, the existence of the engine is crucial….

3)         Key performance drivers: the presented metrics have been shown to be important drivers of performance, either by experience and/or by scientific testing in the underlying model. We have seen many cases in which managers got obsessed with metrics that did not drive results. A good dashboard refocuses its users on the metrics that truly matter.

4)         To be viewed: dashboards visualize information through devices such as gauges, charts, and tables, often color-coded for easy summarization.

5)         In common throughout the organization: a dashboard makes it easy to share information and to get all stakeholders on the same page (often literally). Plenty of room for discussion on how to interpret the facts and what to do next, but at least it is clear what the facts are. Many companies also share dashboard views with partners such as suppliers, agencies and customers, which helps to align the supply chain around common goals.

Integration is key to each of these 5 elements, and the clear but tough-to-achieve answer in today’s challenging times.

What is your experience with dashboards? Which of the 5 elements is most crucial to success? Anything that the 5 elements are missing?

To join the conversation, please comment or email me at koen.pauwels@ozyegin.edu.tr.

To check out the book, please go to Amazon.com in the U.S. and McGraw-Hill.co.uk in Europe.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Koen Pauwels

Professor of Marketing

Ozyegin University, Istanbul

www.marketdashboards.com

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