In today’s pressurised environment, just making the right decision isn’t good enough anymore; it also has to be made twice as quickly. But with so much information coming from numerous different sources, it can be hard to sift out the data that’s important.
Since its launch in 1985, it would be fair to say that Excel has transformed the way we do business. However 32 years on it has not evolved to meet the speeds of other, more automated, solutions. Recording, analysing, categorising 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.
Overcome inefficiencies of legacy IT
If you’re looking to streamline processes, the inefficiencies of using spreadsheets and other legacy IT systems soon become apparent. Research from Sharp reveals almost 40 minutes a day are wasted per employee in UK offices, costing businesses over £2,100 per employee a year, or 21 days a year, due to slow or inefficient technology. Poor IT means poor productivity.
The answer? Streamlining your reporting with automated dashboards. Here are seven ways dashboards beat Excel spreadsheets hands down:-
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data; 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Dashboard solutions were built to accommodate the massive data troves that most businesses have to handle today. Social media, transaction data, customer records and web analytics are just a few examples of the mushrooming data that push beyond Excel’s capacity limits every day.
Dashboards have the advantage of allowing you to see all your data on one page. All the factors that impact a question can 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 telling 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.
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. Digital dashboards can be scheduled to automatically compile reports from all of your systems 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.
Ever tried opening an Excel spreadsheet on your phone? Dashboards are not only easier to view on mobile, but our brains can process images 60,000 times faster than text.
With Excel spreadsheets, there is no way to drill down 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.
While Excel allows you to make charts, if you want to change the data sources or the type of chart you are building, you have to start again. Dashboards enable you to create charts quickly and easily – adding data, modifying calculations and changing scenarios – as you go. This enables you to see the implications of your analysis in real time.
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.