The question of who owns and controls our data has been in the press a lot these past weeks. But while Cambridge Analytica and Facebook both have serious questions to answer, in other sectors – including work, education, retail and energy – data harvesting is empowering organisations. While analytics teams have traditionally been made up of data scientists tasked with gathering, cleaning and preparing data sets before delivering insights, relegating Business Intelligence (BI) to the IT department is perhaps the biggest mistake an organisation can make. Data should be treated as a strategic asset, available to all employees. Otherwise, centralised data will be a hindrance to company performance, turning decision-making into a slow, laborious process confined to those ‘in the know’.
While analytics teams have traditionally been made up of data scientists tasked with gathering, cleaning and preparing data sets before delivering insights, relegating Business Intelligence (BI) to the IT department is perhaps the biggest mistake an organisation can make. Data should be treated as a strategic asset, available to all employees. Otherwise, centralised data will be a hindrance to company performance, turning decision-making into a slow, laborious process confined to those ‘in the know’. Decentralising an organisation’s data means taking this power and insight away from the hands of a select few and encourages individual perspectives to be brought forward, leading to better decision-making. Ultimately, it empowers employees, helping the workforce to become more effective at their jobs. However, for this to be successful, all data must be connected.
Interactive dashboards have changed the way organisations leverage data
The answer to better connected data comes in the form of data visualisation tools. These accessible and easy to use reporting dashboards give even non-technical employees access to targeted information and real-time reporting. They give users a better understanding of the company as a whole, with the added functionality to drill down to specific details. Presentation is a major advantage of dashboards, too. Excel is no longer good enough for reporting because businesses need ways to present data more dynamically. Combining graphs and charts with business analytics means that data can be shared across the business. This not only enables all departments to see quickly and clearly how the organisation is performing in real-time, but also to take the necessary corrective actions earlier to prevent small issues becoming bigger problems as well as harness opportunities. When data is fragmented, it can be difficult for the board to understand which departments are providing the best ROI. Dashboards can quickly bring all the relevant information together and make it more accessible, lending transparency to KPIs and ROI, and leading to more accessible board reports that provide an overview of the entire business and how each department’s return fits together.
When data is so easily accessed and analysed, it is clear that business intelligence is no longer just for senior management. Everyone should have access to dashboards to view their own performance and see how it relates to the organisation as a whole. This creates a culture of company-wide accountability and, with the right data at their fingertips, empowers employees to be more proactive, making informed decisions based on real-time data. Decentralising data is also a core catalyst in driving productivity. Employees are under increasing pressure to work more efficiently but most organisations don’t even measure productivity. Without measuring productivity, it can’t be managed and employees won’t know what their productivity expectations are. Providing staff with access to their own performance data has been proven to drive productivity and can be used by organisations to motivate staff on an individual, team and management level. In addition, by defining expectations, individuals are made to feel accountable and organisations will see a significant cultural shift.
We’ve recently updated our dashboard software to help organisations build dashboards that are aligned to the needs of their business and employees. Our latest updates focus on making the dashboards as clear and as informative as possible, so that anyone regardless of technical ability can access, understand and take action from their data. Our tool enables organisations to brand their reports too, so that company colours, fonts, and labels are consistent. Organisations can now also print their personalised dashboards – or elements of it – exactly as they appear and export them to various forms according to end user needs, such as Word, PowerPoint, PDF and JPG. Organisations no longer need to rely on the IT department to slice and dice data. Accurate information can easily be accessed and embedded into any document regardless of format with the simple click of a mouse or tap of a screen. This makes reports more compelling and means departments can show they are in control of their numbers and reporting – and ultimately their business effectiveness. The bottom line is that, with more insight into data, everyone across the organisation can make smarter decisions. And in today’s business landscape, tackling the challenges of Brexit and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), any technology focusing on actionable intelligence should be a top priority for organisations looking to improve productivity and performance. Here is yet another reason why easy to use and interactive dashboards have become a necessity in today’s business climate.