The best article I’ve read recently, Is the business intelligence dashboard dead? by Marius Moscovici. This article challenges the status quo around what a dashboard is, why it exists, and what business users want from their analytics.
"Can a dashboard help you pry open a new market? Can it help your IT team in India address an urgent data center problem? At this point, it can do neither."
End users don't want to slice & dice
The article puts forward the view that business users don't really want to work with dashboards. Dashboards push information to users with an expectation that they will take the time to analyze the data so they can make decisions. But the reality is that most people prefer to be fed rather than cook from scratch. They don’t want to spend their time slicing and dicing data looking for insights.
"There is simply too much data for businesspeople to know what matters most, and in which context...Executives can glance at dashboards all day long and still not know which important changes are taking place now."
Why not an analytics feed?
What they want is an analytics feed that tells them what they need to know, similar logging onto LinkedIn or Facebook. By regularly feeding the user insights that are important and interesting in real time, business users can respond with the right action. This idea really resonated with me.
The dashboard article is two years old, but it shows how long the industry has been aware that dashboards are not the ideal way to communicate analytics within an organization. They just don’t deliver the experience that most business users want. The problem is that the industry has a huge attachment to the dashboard. They’ve been around for 30 years and analytics vendors are traditionally dashboard vendors. While dashboards do support some use cases, they don't support all of them.
The move towards automation
As a vendor, I know how hard it is to break that mindset and make that shift from being a dashboard vendor. At Yellowfin we’ve struggled with this - if we’re not a dashboard vendor, what are we? I think this is a question that the entire industry needs to reflect on as we move towards automation. We need to think beyond the dashboard towards new ways of delivering analytics and insights to business users.
Earlier this year, Yellowfin’s version 8 release moved us towards delivering the product that this article talks about. Instead of dashboards, we deliver new information through signals and stories that give business users insights that are interesting and important to them as they happen. They are just two products in the Yellowfin suite. This shift brings automation to analytics and changes the experience our users have with their analytics for the better.
Get the paper by Computing Research: The Rise of Automated Analytics and the Demise of Dashboards