Is It Time to Switch to a Dashboard Model for Data Analytics?

October 30, 2015

6:00 pm

When it comes to storytelling, there’s no better story than one that’s being updated on the fly. Data can often be a complicated set of graphs and numbers that aren’t particularly compelling to look at. No one wants to pour over key performance indicators if they’re presented in a way that’s unappealing. Beyond that, analyzing data shouldn’t necessarily give you a headache. It should, however, be informative. So, how do you strike a happy accord between the two?

Dashboards represent a growing area of data analysis and presentation that has heretofore been absent in traditional options. Standard spreadsheets filled with information technically get the job done, but they can be confusing and tedious to read. PowerPoint presentations might bring more intrigue, but they may lack the depth offered with dashboards. Even mobile apps such as KPI Alerts are now getting into the game.

Why Dashboards?

Part of the reason that dashboards are so efficient at conveying information is that they are eminently user friendly. Software allows the dashboard to be viewed from virtually anywhere, and the relevant data and KPIs are displayed with convenience in mind. This allows your intended audience to absorb key details and make appropriate decisions based off of them.

The amount of data now being processed and understood is simply too large for most standard data analytics to comprehend. Dashboards allow users to synthesize information into convenient tables, graphs, charts, and other appealing data presentations. Data can no longer be ignored and companies in all industries are now developing dashboards as analytic tools.

“There are multiple strategies that can be employed to get the process underway, and most organizations are focusing first on developing a KPI dashboard that allows,” says Jonathan Cho in a post on Managed Healthcare Executive.

Dashboard Storytelling

Storytelling is an art that few people have mastered. Being able to synthesize a story into the most relevant information is one of the hallmarks of a good storyteller. The same concept applies to data analytics. In most cases, drowning your audience with information isn’t going to help them make decisions or provide them with many insights. Instead, it may leave them scratching their heads.

Dashboards allow you to pinpoint the most relevant data for the most appropriate audience. For instance, your shareholders are likely not going to need a row of pie charts detailing the specific buying habits of women aged 22 to 24 (even if that information is available to you). With apt storytelling, data can be organized for those who have the best chance to use it.

According to the OnePercentBlog, dashboard storytelling is vital for communicating with readers. In a post back in 2012, it states, “dashboard storytelling can provide a way for real-time communication using videos, geo tag photos, blogs, sms and apps on telephones.”

One company that specializes in dashboard storytelling is datapine, a Berlin-based company that offers dashboard software that makes it easy for businesses to coordinate and present a wide swath of data in numerous unique ways. Perhaps the ideal thing about datapine’s “Business Intelligence” software is that virtually anyone can use it. Although it’s written in an SQL code, no SQL understanding is required.

Screenshot of datapine software.

Of course, you can create your own corporate dashboards from scratch which is similar to creating a website from scratch. It is recommended to use a software program that you can customize to your own needs. This is similar to creating your own website from a WordPress theme which is much easier and cost effective.

Real-Time Data Monitoring

With dashboards, you also get real-time data updates. After all, what good is real-time data without the ability to monitor it? Even Google is recognizing the importance of real-time data, expanding its reach with Google Trends earlier in 2015.


Other data presentation platforms are often static and can’t provide the up-to-the-minute results that fast-paced businesses may require. Faster data analysis often results in better data analysis, because users don’t have to wait for new information to come their way. When it comes to storytelling, there’s no better story than one that’s being updated on the fly.

In the end, dashboards provide a much needed resource for businesses looking to make the most out of the data they compile. There is simply no other option like a dashboard, and that’s why many small and mid-sized businesses are making the leap toward a “dashboard culture.” “Big data” can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. With dashboards, you can synthesize the most relevant pieces of information and ensure that the most relevant people can apply their insights.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Bill Ecksel is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has been a journalist for over 10 years. He has written for numerous local and regional publications and is the Chief Editor for Industry News Corp. He has written on many topics over the course of his career but is currently focusing tech and startup companies. In addition to writing, he has a wife and three children and is a huge Wolverine Football fan (Go Blue!).