DIY Analytics (more professionally known as self-service BI) is within everyone’s reach especially with great tools such as Tableau and Qlik – But is this what end users want? Do the mere existence of dashboards make an organization data driven, or is it the application of data learnings to business strategies that make the impact.
The challenge is rolling out tools that people will use! Multiple filters allow users to uncover insights, without needing direct access to the underlying data. There is no one size fits all, perfect dashboard – Trust me, I have created my fair share (and searched high and low for inspiration)
Insightful dashboards are an art form –hence the emergence of data designers. You think you have created a masterpiece, but then each user has a slightly different requirement; additional filter here, extra data caveat there, data parameter preferences, and then you are left with a diluted version of something that once resembled a streamlined dashboard. My tip would be to try not to please everyone in one dashboard – Create another version, one with a clear objective.
We are at a strange crossroads where in one direction, we are giving people the power to discover their own insights, in the other we are running AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithms directly on the data to automate alerts, risks, highlighting performance areas for improvement.
Here comes another analogy to explain one of the uses of AI, it’s like booking a holiday – in an era not so distant, you flicked through a brochure, had a rough idea of what you were looking for, and then visited a travel agency. The agent provided you with the best option. Fast forward a few years, and we all spend hours, if not days mixing and matching the perfect flight and hotel mix, scouring review sites, before we settle on first hotel we looked at (maybe that’s just me). It’s at that point that we all wish we had someone to just do it for us! Hence AI – Search and Recommendation engines were one of the first mainstream uses of AI and machine learning. The same can be applied to analyzing data.
In the process of data analysis, there are many experts who can help. What’s performing well? What is driving your sales down? Web? App? a specific product, poorly performing campaigns or marketing investment mix? You look at the data, dig a bit deeper and decide based on the numbers you see if front of you. In its simplest term, Artificial Intelligence allows you to program such rules – therefore rather than having to make that call repeatedly, you can create alerts such as ‘Warning – App is underperforming; this is much more efficient then manually slicing and dicing the data, looking for the golden nugget. Just like a travel agent can give you the best option for you, rather than inundating you with too many options you just get a bit lost (see abundance in my previous article)
This can be the case with many data professionals (hands up, I have been guilty of this in the past) we want to show all the hard work and clever models we have run, when most users just need the answer to five simple questions
1. What happened?
2. What is likely to happen in the future?
3. What is causing this?
4. What action do we need to take next?
5. We took the action…Did it work?
I believe it’s about understanding the requirements of the user and the message you are trying to deliver. Dashboards, reports and AI can work in harmony. Here’s a few examples of what to use and when:
Overview of current sales /performance trends – Dashboard it!
Understanding who to target and when or answering specific business questions – Get digging into that data and create an insightful report
Tracking KPIS – Utilize AI, set up alerts to identify when you need to act and how
Whichever way you decide to deliver your results, make sure they are actionable (data buzz word bingo anyone?)
Remember – you can have access to the best data, resource and tools in the world, but unless your end users act – your just another organization showing lots of numbers on aesthetically pleasing charts.
I’m not claiming to be an expert, I’m just trying to make it simple!
Extra Note: Booking online travel doesn’t have to be painful, visit tajawal.com or download the App for hassle free online flight and hotel bookings.
Written by Louise Blake, Head of Data, Tajawal (UAE)
Working in the data and analytics field for the last 13 years, across multiple industries has enabled me to understand how to (and not to in many cases) use data and tools to really drive business forward. I truly believe that analytics should no longer be silo-ed as a ‘specialism’ but should form the core of all business decisions. I am most successful when I can offer tools and insight to empower organizations and promote a data centric culture . Smart decisions are built on data foundations, and provides organizations with the ability to be creative without the risk