This past week, iDashboards brought its 8th annual conference back to our hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Not far from our office headquarters in Troy, our team headed downtown for a full two days of breakout sessions, customer panels, and informative presentations about the next generation of iDashboards with the release of v10. Throughout our time together, we were able to share with our users some of the great things the Mitten State is most known for – from Faygo ‘pop’, Vernor’s floats and Coney Dogs, to walking through the Motor City and giving directions using our hands as a map.
The conference opened with our keynote, Josh Linkner. A five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, two-time NY Times Bestselling author, venture capitalist, and well-respected jazz musician, he fired up our conference with his insights for driving creativity, innovation, and reinvention.
His takeaways provided our attendees with the motivation to discover fresh ideas and be innovators in their own organization, for example:
- Every barrier can be penetrated
- Break the rules to get the jewels
- Seek the unexpected, consider Option X (not just A, B, or C)
- Fall seven times, stand eight
Positioning Your Dashboard
One of our breakout sessions that coincided well with many of these takeaways was delivered by iDashboards’ very own Principal Pre-Sales Engineer, Jerry Stowe. On Thursday, Jerry spoke to users on Positioning Your Dashboard for Success, where he utilized his vast experiences with customers to discuss the business value that dashboards have across virtually every industry.
The core of Jerry’s session was centered on getting the most value out of dashboards helping data driven enterprises stay competitive, improve processes, and become more efficient. He, like Josh Linkner, recognized how individuals and businesses can often be skeptical of change, of barriers that may be holding them back from innovation and the discovery of new perspectives. Jerry explained that dashboards can allow for those new perspectives to not only be uncovered but also supported when they prove how crucial they are for the business as a whole. He said, “If your dashboards are delivering outstanding value to your organization, they can earn the respect of the business and can enjoy sustained success.”
Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time. And, working within a dashboard environment where the data can be managed as efficiently as possible, or data collection can be automated, eliminates manual processing and makes the information more real-time for the decision-makers. Time no longer needs to be spent analyzing each individual spreadsheet to develop one report, and instead be spent on analyzing the data visualizations at hand.
The next value Jerry went into is that of visibility – making sense of the data being used and its connection to other trends and overarching goals. Dashboards that are well designed across a variety of elements (such as color, chart type, layout) as well as use a variety of features (drilldowns, parameters, Interactive Intelligence) will provide great visibility, better understanding and insight, and ultimately better value for the audience of dashboard users.
When you can see the performance results of your KPIs in real time, your business can optimize on making data-driven decisions, identify opportunities for growth and improvement, and discover areas where improvements will drive success. By making use of the measurable results your dashboards provide, you can see relationships across your data and perform what-if analysis to better understand ways your business can work to improve. Similar to Josh’s point of ‘breaking the rules to get the jewels’, it’s important to consider other possibilities that can better reach the organizational goals or improve business processes.
PERFORMANCE AGAINST PLAN
To paraphrase Jerry’s next point of value, he explained to our users that “Everyone has goals and forecast plans to follow through with, but it’s important to be able to execute on that plan.” Just as you can see the performance of your KPIs in real time, you can then compare your business plans to those real-time performance results. Dashboards allow for the comparison across any set time-frame and/or number of metrics you choose so that necessary changes to plans can be made as soon as possible. Jerry advises to step back and keep the end user or consumer of the dashboard in mind. By doing so, new or more developed strategies can be considered and allow for that ‘Option X’ Josh spoke about to no longer be seen as impossible.
Another value Jerry iterated to users was that of focus. It’s not only essential for organizations to be unified in their focus and chosen KPIs, but that their data is unified as well. iDashboards’ Data Hub allows for all data to be combined and cleaned from across different sources such as databases, CRMs, web applications and spreadsheets. This is just another way for your business to have immediate data insight and more focused decision-making capability. By narrowing the scope of KPIs and intended goals, outliers will emerge quicker, and understanding the factors connected to certain results all in one place on the dashboard becomes invaluable.
The last category Jerry educated users on was productivity, something that is valued among every industry environment and across all departments. No matter the structure of an organization, employee productivity is what drives the day to day activities to successfully reach overall goals. Through the use of dashboards, comparisons of productivity KPIs can be over time, among employees of one department, or across departments as a whole. Once variability and potential areas of improvement are noticed, a business can assess where a related learning/growth opportunity may be necessary – whether at the departmental, leadership, or individual employee level. Jerry also explained how productivity measurements can also help encourage desired positive behaviors by motivating employees who are viewing their levels in real-time. Employees who are motivated are then more willing to ‘fall seven times, stand eight.’
Jerry, among many of our other iDashboards team enjoyed sharing their insights and hearing all the amazing value our users are getting with their dashboards and data visualization projects. iDashboards prides itself in bringing it all together for our clients, and we want to thank everyone who helped do the same for us, making this year’s conference a memorable one!
To reiterate what Jerry said, “iDashboards would love to see what your organization is doing and take your stories further.”