“Things get done only if the data we gather can inform and inspire those in a position to make [a] difference.”
– Mike Schmoker, Former School Administrator, Teacher, Coach, & Author
Mike Schmoker is an education improvement guru. He knows data makes a difference in improving education. But using data to inform and inspire those in positions to make a difference is just as important in business as it is in education.
Truthfully, every employee at a company can make a difference with their decisions. In order for them to make the biggest impact, they need the instant visibility business intelligence (BI) dashboards provide.
Today, companies use a variety of tools and apps to track social presence, marketing and sales efforts, financial information, web traffic, and more. Each tool tracks and stores information about individuals’ interactions with your brand along with company performance. This information creates a level of visibility into company efforts not previously available, helping improve work processes and tasks. However, each tool or app stores its information separately, creating a major problem—scattered data.
Think of all the tools you use to track your marketing data. You probably spend money on a few of the social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, or Twitter. You probably also run some Google Ads and track your website and blog visitors with Google Analytics. You also have a tool to track your email marketing efforts. That’s just the tip of the iceberg—and that’s only for marketing. The other parts of your business will have different apps to track their data and measure performance. (Honestly, I’m getting tired just thinking about reviewing all of it.)
As you can see, the workload quickly escalates and gets out of control. But if you don’t want to deal with incomplete data, you’ll have to take the time to retrieve the data you track from several different locations. If you don’t have a central location, like a BI dashboard, to review your scattered data, you have another problem—information silos.
Information and Organizational Silos
Information silos create constraints, impeding organizational, departmental, and team collaboration and communication. 86% of employees and executives blame workplace failures on a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication.
If you can’t easily compile your company data in one location for review, you are creating both an information and an organizational silo. An information silo occurs when data is not easily accessible. An organizational silo occurs when employees at each level don’t have access to data relevant to their positions.
Without the right tools to help you break down information and organizational silos, you’re imposing constraints on your company’s ability to succeed and facilitating failure. Some constraints can’t be helped. But with BI dashboards, data visibility doesn’t have to be one of those constraints.
Every company has a data solution. At some companies, the data solution consists of the CEO or a department head manually collecting and sorting data to produce reports with Excel. At others, IT takes on the role of manually preparing data for leadership to review. Whatever the solution, many companies rely on some sort of manual process to get the data they need.
Manually collecting and sorting data is a major drain on time, resources, and competitive ability. What happens when you want to view your data a different way or from a different time frame? Whoever collects and prepares the data now has to go through the whole process again. When it’s manual, it’s not going to be fast. And if it’s not fast enough, you’re going to have to do some guessing come decision time.
Company decision makers at every level need access to the right data at the right time if they hope to make the best decisions. Depending on your analytics solution, the information you need to guide your decisions could be available in two weeks, or a month.
What opportunities are missed while you and your team wait for the necessary info? What problems are you having to guess how to correct because you lack the necessary data to accurately access and correct them? If you guess at strategy, you’re guessing at success.
The instant visibility BI dashboards create help companies to succeed in today’s fast-paced business world. A BI tool provides companies with more time, better data, and better visibility, helping them create more revenue.
To keep up with today’s business world, companies need the ability to combine data automatically. Doing so on a BI dashboard allows them to see a more complete picture of company performance. This empowers employees to conduct their own analysis so they can provide better results with data-backed decisions.
Combine Your Data Automatically
Gathering and sorting data are necessary steps so companies can review their performance, but that doesn’t mean an employee has to do it. BI dashboard reports are available when you set them to automatically update—every week, every day, or every 30 minutes, etc. Companies don’t have to run on bi-weekly or monthly reports.
Automated dashboards provide significant benefits.
- Cost savings – Even if it’s not your job to aggregate your disparate data, someone is being paid to do it. Automated reporting can save a minimum of half of what it costs to hire a data analyst.
- Time savings – Automated dashboard reporting gathers your data for you. This allows employees (or yourself) to skip the gathering and sorting steps and get down to analyzing and executing.
Investing in BI dashboards helps companies save time, money, and resources and still get the data they need.
Insights with Data Mashups
BI dashboards provide insightful data mashups, giving leaders at-a-glance views of company performance—everything from financial and customer data to marketing data. Data mashups combine and display separate but related data sets to create metrics. When displayed on dashboards, these metrics clarify and enhance the insights data provides.
At Grow, we have a leads vs. website traffic metric. The leads info is pulled from Salesforce, the website traffic info is pulled from Google Analytics. Combining the data from two separate sources creates more meaningful analysis.
The data mashups available with BI dashboards open the door to several other insightful data combinations. These combinations help companies identify connections and correlations in their data so they can correct negative trends and capitalize on positive ones.
Workers Conducting Their Own Analysis
Every member of your team makes decisions that influence the direction of your company. However, it’s hard for them to make decisions that lead to big wins if they’re expected to guide their decisions with month-old or even two-week old data. Making decisions with old data likely means the opportunities that data reveals have already come and gone.
If your lead collection method stops working, like it did for us when Marketo went down for a day, you’ll be missing leads and losing money until you see the data revealing the problem. If that report showing the problem is two days out and the problem lasts for more than a day, that can equate to significant losses. With the help of our Grow dashboards, we caught and corrected our leads-capturing problem that same day and were able to quickly get back to collecting leads.
BI dashboards empower employees at every level with data relevant to their position while it’s still applicable. With that info, they can analyze their own efforts and figure out what to change to achieve better results.
BI dashboards break down information and organizational silos allowing companies to execute on business strategies as a whole.
Data backed decisions
Andrew McAfee and Erik Bryniolfsson of MIT said, “The first question a data-driven organization asks itself is not ‘What do we think?’ but ‘What do we know?’ This requires a move away from acting solely on hunches and instinct.” BI dashboards increase a leader’s level of “What do we know?” so he/she can better answer the question, “What should we do?”
BI dashboards don’t just foster better decisions, they facilitate faster decisions. Companies using analytics are five times more likely to make faster decisions.
When data is easily accessible, decisions aren’t simply faster, they’re smarter. A recent Aberdeen report showed 63% of best-in-class companies that implemented BI experienced improvement in time-to-decision over the past 12 months.
With BI dashboards, companies have the ability to make smarter, faster decisions so they can compete in today’s fast-paced business world.
“The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.”
– Arthur C. Nielsen, Market Researcher & Founder of ACNielsen
Marketing-research revolutionary Arthur C. Nielsen brings up an important point. Both light (knowing) and darkness (not knowing) have a cost. The price of knowing how your company is performing is much cheaper than not knowing. BI dashboards are the key to instantly knowing how your company is doing.
The rise of self service analytics and dashboard reporting tools have made instant visibility possible, and affordable.
BI tool costs vary from $20 to thousands of dollars each month. The cost fluctuates based on a number of variables including:
- The amount of users who will be accessing the tool
- The amount of metrics you want to track
- Possible consulting and implementation fees
- The addition of customized features
- The amount of rows of data you need pulled, etc
You don’t want to overpay for capabilities you don’t need, but you also don’t want to underpay and not receive needed functionality. It’s important to choose a BI tool that can easily scale with your company as it grows. That way, you don’t have to learn to use a new tool after experiencing some growth.
Companies actively using BI have tapped into their data to produce the following results:
- 126% profit improvement over competitors (McKinsey)
- 50% higher revenue growth (Dell Global Technology Index)
- $13.01 return for every dollar spent on average (Nucleus Research)
When you contrast the price of using BI dashboards with the cost of running your company without them, it’s easy to see that Nielsen is right. “The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.” And not only do BI dashboards become very affordable, they also become very desirable.
By: Jake Young, VP of Sales at Grow