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Dashboards : The yoga of analytics

Digitisation is the brick and mortar of modern day business with analytics as a strategic component; Underlying analytics are scores of algorithms, call it machine learning or AI that help to determine and in a way modulate customers’ behaviour. In addition, assist in decision-making. The potency of analytics is in the design of dashboards specific to a business objective and for a role in an organisation.  

I attended a recent vendor presentation on analytics focused on banks and financial institutions. The capabilities were excellent. However, the presenter spent 90% of the product demo time in explaining the use case showing a motley collection of analytics visualisation and mentioned the word ‘dashboard’ in passing towards the end. The ‘dots’ were all over the place. The beautiful 3D graphics revolving suddenly stopped in my mind. I had the ‘inception’ effect and had to turn around and ask for the story line.

Is this analytics at all?

I have used the word yoga with specific reference to the popular ‘Sun Salutation’. This has primarily 10 (there are other variations) postures. Each posture has an individual excellence; however collectively the effect is very different. It is rhythmic; more pronounced and has a multiplier effect. The ‘Sun Salutation’ must be the design guidance for dashboards.

Much of the analytics content that passes, as dashboards are so disparate it is challenging to form a meaningful interpretation. In addition, there is little knowledge of strategic and operational dashboards. (I am assuming there exists a deep domain understanding) The ‘what next’ drill downs (or in) from the analytics content are akin to the strange stories we read about excessive dependence on GPS to navigate us through new territories.

To illustrate, Each dashboard must have an underlying business theme and collectively a symphony of business woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings, like an orchestra. 

The main ‘CXO’ level dashboard must focus on business parameters at the organisation level. The ‘X’ ofcourse is the role in the org structure. The ‘what next’ must be in relation to these business parameters. The secondary dashboards will have an option to drill down to business specifics; this may be operational business.  Therefore, the ‘C’ level personnel will have multiple related dashboards.

The persons in operations will have dashboards based on their specific roles to improve efficiency and quality in operations. The ‘what next’ will be continuation of business workflows.  The relationship manager straddles between strategy and operations and such roles will have strategic and operational dashboards.

The big picture ‘story line’ must precede the design. Each individual dashboard story must resonate with the 'big picture'. 

It is time for the ‘first entrant’ organisations that have pioneered adoption of analytics to relook at the current analytics portfolio and rehash the dashboards to meet business objectives. It is important to underline that the dashboards are dynamic and will change over time to align with business. For once, we need ‘old wine in a new bottle’. The ‘old wine’ in this case is appropriate comprehensive information to assist in decision making, just like old days; or shall we call it ‘New vintage wine in old Bottle’.



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Vishwanath Thanalapatti
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Vishwanath Thanalapatti



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04 Jan 2018



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