Dashboards and Data Viz

I apologize in advance for this total ‘blog geek out’ about to happen, but bear with me – there is an analogy and purpose. If you’ve ever played any type of RTS or Strategy PC game in the past couple decades, you might be familiar with the term ‘Fog of War.’*If you’re not familiar, let me explain. In the PC gaming world, this essentially represents the part of the screen, dungeon, cosmic empire, etc. that you can’t see. The information is out there, but you just can’t see it yet. In the video game world, most of that information tells us essentially where the bad guys (and sometimes good guys) and your special resources are.

Businesses across the world, big and small, are collecting a lot of data. They have information funneling in from CRM, Accounting Applications, Marketing, Point of Sale systems and numerous other sources and reports. It is good news that we have a lot of data out there, data that we can use to make those immediate adjustments to improve our processes and ultimately our objectives and goals. What are we going to access all of this information with? How do we cut through the “Fog of *Data* War” and see what’s truly out there?

We have reports and resources that can tell us what’s going on in any given area of business, but let’s not kid ourselves – when you take into account that the average executive (and by that I mean the person who can respond and make the appropriate changes based on this massive amount of information) works roughly fourteen hours per day, how many more hours can he or she dedicate to sifting through multiple reports and spreadsheets? You’re never going to see the whole landscape when you track a bit here and there no matter how hard you try (back to the Fog of War metaphor). Sometimes you can spend an entire game searching for that threat or resource or you can cheat, turn off the Fog of War and focus your energy on that particular area. Businesses both big and small do a lot of work sifting through multiple reports, searching for that ‘special something’ or breakdown in structure. Sometimes, we catch a crisis early because we’re savvy and lucky. Sometimes, we don’t put out the proverbial fire in time and end up having to fight a (data) fire.

Read next: Exploring The Theories of Data Analysis: EDA, CDA, and Grounded Theory

There’s a way cut through the (data) fog though – hooray for technology! Call it dashboarding or data visualization; ultimately, it is a tool to easily see what you do not see every day. It is a way to immediately recognize that resource or threat before it goes away or potentially hurts your business. When you’re playing a video game, exploring the unknown and facing new threats from outside worlds can be all kinds of fun. In the real world, it is aggravating and many times, costly. So turn off the ‘fog,’ see your entire landscape and take action swiftly – dashboard through your data fog. Be the hero. Always get to the next level.

*The original term can be attributed to military theorist Carl von Clausewitz –War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent. The first thing (needed) here is a fine, piercing mind, to feel out the truth with the measure of its judgment…

Dylan Johnston – Account Manager, Cloud Sales, iDashboards


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