I will come out and say it, I hate dashboards! Today’s business Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are changing so rapidly that dashboards become obsolete very quickly. Dashboards provide end users with summary metrics that are supposed to lead to accurate decisions. However, miscommunication between the dashboard creator and end user could cause inaccurate decisions. Dashboards miss the communication that is so critical between the analyst and the decision maker.
Web analytics platforms come with easy to configure dashboards that are created in seconds (example above). So what? An amateur looking at a dashboard without full knowledge of how data is collected and summarized is more dangerous to an organization than a monkey with a grenade. Dashboard end users are getting a summary of data; they are unable to see the statistical significance behind the numbers needed to make business decisions. In most cases, you need multiple views of data to conclude a decision you are making that will affect your business.
As an example, the image on the left shows that conversion rates are going down. Anyone looking at the image will state that February conversions are lower than January. However, users do not realize that it takes 3 months to make a trend. In March, conversions increased and are now trending upwards. Analysts understand that data has seasonality, caveats, and needs to reach statistical significance before it can be used in analysis.
Data You Can Use
Organizations need to work with analysts who can turn data into action. Analysts make reports easy to understand, visualize, and provide clear outcomes for decision makers. If you leave decision makers trying to guess, they will steer towards not making any decisions. Thus, lots of wasted time and effort in the organization. Analytic insights are about knowledge that leads to fact-based decisions.
Dashboard data without context is not helpful to anyone. Analysts provide reports that take the data to the next step, action. It is not enough to look at a dashboard and state that 61% of our traffic is organic. Stating that 61% of our traffic is organic and provides 75% of our site KPIs is a far better argument. It allows the decision maker to gauge how important organic traffic is to the business.
Next time someone offers to build you a dashboard, tell them no! You want to work with analysts who can provide you with analytics you can use.