Don't be a data dinosaur

In today’s pressurized environment, decisions not only have to be right, but they also have to be made quickly. But with so much information coming from numerous different sources, it can be hard to pinpoint the important data.

Since its launch in 1985, Excel has undoubtedly transformed the way businesses operate. However, over 30 years later it has not evolved to meet the speeds and efficiencies of other, more automated, solutions. Recording, analyzing, categorizing and reporting thousands of changing data points back to stakeholders is far more complex than plugging numbers into a table. Consequently, the cutting-edge technologies of yesterday are now seen by many employees as archaic and prehistoric when compared with today’s instant digital information experiences they have come to expect in their personal lives.

The problems with legacy IT

The inefficiencies of using spreadsheets and other legacy IT systems can’t be ignored. Research shows that almost 40 minutes per day are wasted by employees in UK offices, costing businesses over £2,100 ($2678) per employee a year, or 21 days a year, due to slow or inefficient technology. Poor IT means poor productivity; but it is no longer necessary to rely on outdated technology that doesn’t meet business needs. Automated dashboards provide a single, unified view of data across a business, focusing on delivering specific business outcomes and meeting KPIs.

1. Data capability

At our current pace, we are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data; 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. To accommodate the massive data troves that most businesses must handle today, dashboard solutions were built. Social media, transaction data, customer records and web analytics are just a few examples of the mushrooming data that pushes beyond Excel’s capacity limits every day.

2. A single view

Dashboards have the advantage of allowing you to see all of your data on one page, enabling all the factors that impact a question to be viewed together. Establishing filters and drop downs that are easy to create and navigate makes it easy to interact directly with your information. Not only do dashboards reveal relationships between key analyses, but they also let you drill down in real-time to specific data points and calculations to answer questions that are raised by seeing your information in one place.

3. Real-time data exploration

As much as we try to account for all the possible inputs we will need and all the questions we will ever want to pose, it’s impossible. Yet in today’s fast-paced world, accurate decisions need to be made faster than ever - in real time, 24/7. The more regularly your data is refreshed, the more accurate your results will be. This not only saves you time and reduces human error, but it allows you to make decisions without having to depend on a report that would have taken weeks to compile.

4. Accessibility and transparency

Our brains can process images 60,000 times faster than text, so having a visual representation of data that can be viewed on the move is essential. Additionally, Excel spreadsheets offer no way to dig deeper for further information. While dashboards provide you with quick snapshots that can be completely understood at a glance, they also let the reader choose the level and complexity of the data they want to view so that nothing gets overlooked. Transparency and accountability is crucial; if something looks out of place, dashboards enable you to quickly discover why.

5. Map your efforts

Geographical mapping is standard functionality in dashboards -- an option that isn’t available in Excel. Mapping your data reveals patterns -- from product profitability to customer penetration and everything in between -- to inform your decisions and guide next steps.

While spreadsheets can still have their place, as businesses require deeper analysis and insights, dashboards provide the edge. If you’re looking to upgrade your reporting, dashboards will not only save you money, ensure you keep up with the competition, have the tools to attract and retain the best talent, but also provide hidden insight. Simple.

Photo Credit: Christian Baloga/Shutterstock

Robert Dagge is Managing Director at Dynistics and drives the business intelligence company’s significant growth strategy. He spearheads and manages both technology and commercial growth in new markets and new geographies, forging relationships with customers and partners and recruiting and developing its people. He has over 15 years of experience of new markets, expanding customer base, significantly increasing revenue and improving brand positioning through strategic sales and marketing initiatives.

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