Dashboards are every where, we will look at a lot of them in this post and they are all digital. I'm sure the analyst in you (like me!) is yearning for some segmentation, or at least for some comparisons of current performance to past performance for context. And I don't want you to think that the problem is that the above is a dashboard in a digital analytics tool and has just two graphs. People who are closest to the data, the complexity, who've actually done lots of great analysis, are only providing data. People who are receiving the summarized snapshot top-lined have zero capacity to understand the complexity, will never actually do analysis and hence are in no position to know what to do with the summarized snapshot they see.
Be aware that the implication of that last part I'm recommending is that you are going to become a lot more influential, and indispensable, to your organization. Allow me to visualize the problem above, and leverage that visualization to present the solution. In a perfect world if everyone in the organization had access to all the data, the analytical skills to analyze what the initial blush of data says, the time to deep dive to find the causal factors related to good or bad performance, and take action on the insights, nirvana would exist.
It does not because of this challenge… there is a massive asymmetry between people how have access to data (you?), data analysis skills (you? As you might have guessed, you are at the very left of the above visual, with most access to data, the ability to analyze it (inshallah!) and the organizational relationships to marry with the analytical ability to find causal factors. Your immediate cluster direct or indirect leaders have some ability to look over the data, little ability to do analysis, but a ton of ability to understand causal factors. The VPs of Marketing, Advertising, Product, Public Relations, Human Resources etc., have none of one or two, they have some of three (causal factors, after all they set direction and make decisions). Why would the above dashboard, even if you spent money prettifying it, deliver magical business results?
What will be the impact on the business if the CXO accepts your recommendation and the business takes action?
Your dashboard should have some data, but what it really needs are three sections: Insights, Actions, Business Impact. Your dashboards don't need more wiz-bang graphics or for them to be displays of your javascript powers to sql your hadoop to make big query cloud compute. In-order to win, you and I and our peers are going to have to make a substantial change to our current approach.
They don't have time to go get all the data, but they have the desire to analyze a bit, drill-down a bit, poke and prod. They can get a summary view of the Paid Search performance, and also drill-down and find deeper insights by themselves.
For our VPs (or high enough equivalent in your company, in companies where everyone is a VP this might be the Executive Vice President or some such important title), we will deliver a tactical dashboard.
Each stakeholder getting exactly what they want with some of what they need to be successful. This sexy thing has similar elements as the tactical dashboard, except the altitude is different (full business, end-to-end, performance view on KPIs agreed upon in advance using the DMMM) and you should bring the full force of your brilliance into play by over-indexing on the English words. The glorious part of the strategic dashboard is that when presented the IABI are so enchanting that the entire meeting becomes a discussion about the actions rather than an argument about the data. But it should be crystal-clear that as you go from left to right there is a big shift that takes place. All of my dashboards that you might find helpful have business confidential data so I can't share those as is. Here is an excerpt from a tactical dashboard… this one focused quite heavily on the VP of Marketing for the digital business with a big budget for Search. It will be difficult for the VP to know enough, even from your segmented trends and KPIs, what happened that caused the data to move in the way that it did. The VP will look at the data, understand some of it, not know why stuff is happening, read the analysis, ask some questions and quickly move the meeting to discussing who is going to be assigned which recommendation. The only part that is missing, not uncommon in tactical dashboards, is the impact of each recommendation. Here's a complete tactical dashboard for a VP of Onsite Engagement who might love to see more data and trends. Please click on the image to get a higher resolution version, it is well worth your review.
Along with other things in the layout, also notice the red minus icons and the green plus icons. Here is an excerpted version of a strategic dashboard, but to a small business owner who is still at a stage where they are trying to survive and thrive. Our next example, by Kevin Jackson, is one that demonstrates the above approach, but applies it to a strategic dashboard. I've hidden the IABI, but hopefully the above image (click for a higher resolution version) will serve as a handy reminder of what is expected of you in each section.
In each example we are, to repeat myself again, sorry, I am trying to push you out of your comfort zone of reporting data by summarizing it into pretty graphs and tables.
If you do that, and use as much English as numbers on your tactical and strategic dashboards, your business will shift slowly over time to being data driven, it will be richer, that's going to flow down to you! NEVER leave data interpretation to the executives (let them opine on your recommendations for actions with benefit of their wisdom and awareness of business strategy).
When it comes to key performance indicators, segments and your recommendations make sure you cover the end-to-end acquisition, behavior and outcomes. Not everyone knows that you can link your graphs directly into Power Point, so when the excelsheet that isn't even open, is updated, the power point is updated as well. It is quite pretty (important), and I really love the capacity to filter using day of week (so clever). To qualify as a Tactical or a Strategic dashboard, Vida.Io would have to assist in solving for providing IABI (insights, recommended actions, business insights).
Tactical dashboards (based on your DMMM) equal insights and recommendations which in turn will lead to continuous improvement!
But there is a collection related to forecasting that is one of the key facets of impact on business growth. For example, a social media manager may value an engagement metric where the CMO doesn't understand that metric or even care. For my dashboards on social, I simply focus on four simple metrics across all social networks in the world. It should be management's responsibility to stop glorifying the dashboards and start looking to analysts for insights.
But I am afraid I put more onus on us (Marketers, Analysts) for focusing obsessively on delivering IABI.
A key challenge I often run into: Everyone wants to see every report and dashboard that gets created.
Anyway, I think this is one of your best posts in years (with deniable foreshadowing included).
At Market Motive for our final dissertation defense (you see a couple of examples in the post) we have the student have the strategic dashboard as page one and then five to six pages of individual detailed analysis (a la tactical dashboard) for each KPI.
We use six because I encourage two each for Acquisition (what are we doing to get traffic to our site), Behavior (what is the experience once they land) and Outcome (what was the result of the visit).


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You need access to data, the ability to analyze (slice, dice, drill-up, drill-down, drill-around) interesting data points that your performance throws up, ability to understand what caused the performance (often by understanding who did, what and where in other parts of the organization), and the power to make decisions. Your CXOs are at the far right, very little of the three things you have (because they have other responsibilities, and also because they are paying you!). If only they got something that was not a data puke and had enough starting points (sounds like a dashboard, but wait!). These will sound like: Metric x is down because of our inability to take advantage of trend y and hence I recommend we do z. Actually, we don't really create dashboards for them strictly speaking so we are simply going to have to stop calling them that. Our customized data pukes, CDPs, can come directly from our digital analytics tools (this will be important because our actual dashboards won't).
For example, this post Google Analytics Custom Reports: Paid Search Campaigns Analysis, has three great CDPs for your Paid Search team. You are not delivering anything beyond data (none of your insights, and hence no actions or business impact either). I mean, identifying specific insights which lead into the recommended actions with a clearly computed business impact.
But in this section I want to share a collection of public dashboards, or examples of work submitted by students of Market Motive Web Analytics Coached Course.
It might help someone feel good there is data, but it is such a generic slather of things, it helps no one. In the Analysis section (in this post we've called it Insights), the Analyst clearly provides hidden causal factors.
For example if we implement SEO strategies for Ohio Health Care and Ohio Health Insurance keywords, what outcomes can we expect? There is a lot of detail, perhaps too much, but it would not be difficult for the business owner to be attracted to your findings, in English, and your recommendations, in English.
Among other things, notice how the altitude changes, the KPIs are strategic and the use of business goals.
Covers the complete end-to-end picture of the business (non-ecommerce in this case) by showing KPIs for acquisition, behavior and outcomes.
They also will have a sense of urgency, based on the $362,000 economic value increase computed by you, to take action.
Great dashboards leverage targets, benchmarks and competitive intelligence to deliver context. But as you also pointed out text is actually the most insightful, the charts and graphs are just helping you to have solid arguments.
You can pull data from API's, SQL databases, FTP, Excel files etc, so the possibility of integration more datasources are numerous. Which means that the graphs and charts are in Excel (from the analysis I do to identify the causal factors – see orange image above), and I simply add text boxes for the IABI. Without IABI, this does not serve the purpose of junior or senior leaders (even as it will help the Data Analyst). I have already ditched the CDP's (previously sent to senior management) in favour of a strategic dashboard. The key is understanding immediate past performance, accommodating for seasonal factors, identifying what new actions the business is planning to take, and finally improvement from your new insights. It goes to show that actionable insights still come from data analysts that have put thought into making sense of all the data being collected, and that this process cannot be fully automated without running the risk of building a CDP. Most clients love talking about themselves and their business and will appreciate your questions. But in many companies analysts don't get enough business context and access to the strategies to make recommendations and derive better insights from data.
It is after all our job, and in most cases the management team does not know to ask for what they don't know about. Is it a punt to BI, to the DomoBimeBirsts of the world, manu-mation, Drivexcel, all, none, it depends? I limit the total to about four KPIs, because I typically cannot expect mgmt attention beyond that! All six pages can be presented to the management team, but page one usually is with subsequent pages for the various owners of each KPI.


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Watch the video below which re-enacts Kathy McAfee's "Green Shoes Story" presentation at the YWCA In the Company of Women luncheon on March 26, 2009 in Hartford, Connecticut. Read about the six imperatives of grassroots innovation in this article Is Your Business Weird Enough? You no longer are required to spend lots of money on TV advertising appealing to the masses to create opportunity for yourself. They will graduate with hands-on experience in business and a confidence in their own abilities to be successful. Think of how easily it would raise the right questions, which, when answered, would lead to more informed decisions. Dashboards are no longer thoughtfully processed analysis of data relevant to business goals with an included summary of recommended actions.
No real appreciation of the delicious opportunity in front of every single company on the planet right now to have a huger impact with data. These are your Directors, your owners of the Paid Search strategy, and other functional leaders.
Or: We missed our target for customer satisfaction because our desktop website performs horribly on mobile platforms hence we should create a mobile friendly website.
A small part of the problem is that Analysts often don't have the skills to compute impact of the recommended actions. For our Directors, Marketing Owners, Campaign Budget Holders, and others in our immediate vicinity, people who have clearly defined siloed responsibilities to make tactical decisions, we are going to create customized data pukes. It will come from being a knowledgeable person about what to do with the data, what actions to take. There are lots of unique situations in the world, you'll adapt my recommendations as they best fit your environment.
Each student, to earn the certification, has to submit two dissertations – comprehensive analysis of two websites (one ecommerce and one non-ecommerce).
Additionally there are no words with IABI (impact, action, business impact), hence it is uniquely useless. Then she takes it to the next level and provides recommendations that are specific and rank ordered (from the most important to the least important).
It leverages the assisted conversions report from Google Analytics, and includes a module of the distribution of macro and micro-outcomes.
You are not really showing I've looked at what will likely happen if you do y by looking at the past, understanding current business plans and taking into account market conditions.
I'm trying to push you to, like the best analysts out there, get very good at computing business impact (put your money where your mouth is).
Will your company be open to adopting our three layer structure of CDPs, tactical and strategic dashboards? But remember, if you are trying not to data puke, if you are trying to include the so why did this performance happen and what should we do as a company, that simply cannot be automated to scaled. On the very far left of the orange box in our visual, we have users who could benefit from an effect CDP. The Marketing Motivators at Kmc Brand Innovation, LLCA have a few thoughts to share on the subject of innovation and its role in our business success.
So rather than focusing so intensely on driving up your share price or crushing the competition, why not focus some of your time, talent and energy on Helping Others be more successful. They can see it, the graph is right there!!) Rather, what caused graph one to be up or down – the reasons for the performance identified by your analysis and causal factors.
Or: While revenue is up by 48% profits have plunged by 80% because of our aggressive shift from to Cost Per Click as the God metric, this has brought increased sales of our loss leading products.
These people know how to take it from a customized data puke, CDP, to getting insights that drive action which will have a business impact. Ideally also indexed against a previously agreed upon target for the key performance indicator (KPI). The shift, massive, is in data being sent around and people feeling a vague sense of happiness to data being actually used to improve the business (for profit or non). We teach the students how to create great dashboards, of course (!), and I'll share some of their work.
They do allude to what the possible impact might be, though it would be better if it was specifically computed. The yummy part I wanted you to look at (beyond all the underlining!) are the sections on analysis, recommendations and impact on the business. I'm trying to push you in to a role where you will be seen as a key business strategist and not just a business analyst.
What have I overlooked in terms of reality on the ground, a facet of convincing people, working with companies in my recommendations in the post above?
With the help of the Internet, we now have an accelerated word-of-mouth marketing vehicle within our grasp. Your customers care about more than just the features, benefits and price point that you offer them.
Look it has things I recommend: trended segments (OMG, OMG!) and sparklines (with YOY and MOM comparisons!). For both categories, especially the valuable second kind of dashboards, we need words – lots of words and way fewer numbers.
But, what better way to create a sense of urgency than tell the CXO what the expected outcome will be if they do based on your insights and recommended actions? Go three levels, or five, inside the organization to the Senior Leadership, would they get anything out of this?
I recommend a shift to Profit Per Click and Avinash Kaushik's custom attribution model. An exception might be if you leverage some apps, like Google Analytics Apps and do the work required to meet our definitions above.
The case studies in the attached white paper are PROOF thatA positive results can be achieved by employing of the principles of Grassroots Innovation.



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