A data-driven business is a successful business, but only if that business is able to extract insights from its data and then act on those insights in a timely matter. In turn, the insights you’re able to gain from your data depends on the tools you’re applying to that data. From relational databases to big iron UNIX mainframes, companies have ridden each new technological wave to gain a competitive advantage from their data.
Although they might seem like a wise investment, business intelligence (BI) KPI dashboards have neither lived up to their hype nor do they provide compelling value to the companies that have implemented them. Why? Because they fail to provide actionable insights into your data, due to their many inherent flaws.
The Four Fatal Flaws of BI KPI Dashboards
First, BI KPI dashboards are unable to provide actionable insights because those insights almost always arise from discovering and correlating many individual clues which lie in the granular data for all your individual metrics. The “Aha!” moment comes when all the pieces come together. KPI dashboards, by design, are unable to intelligently correlate the clues buried deep in your company’s data. They assume you will do that.
Second, in order to present you with the “single pane of glass,” plenty of things must be omitted. Thus, dashboards visualize only a few metrics (the KPIs you’ve chosen), which give an overall sense of your business’ performance. The real analytics must be performed with a separate tool that is able to drill down to the granular data required to find out why the KPIs are the values they are. These dashboards can give only limited insight into how your company is generally performing, but are unable to give the precise insights into why.
Third, BI dashboards can only report and visualize KPI. They are not monitoring or alerting tools. The fact that they can’t proactively discover important signals in your data means you must continually watch them. KPI dashboards waste a lot of your team’s time because they’re unable to support an event-driven workflow. In order to stay one step ahead of your competitors, you need a BI solution which is proactive, not postponed.
Fourth, these KPI dashboards are very seldom fed up-to-date data. Instead, their source data is pulled from reports and tables that can be weeks old by the time they are consumed by your dashboard. You can’t have real-time decision-making without accurate, real-time data. If your eCommerce site experiences a sudden spike in cart abandonment on Cyber Monday, you need to find out and fix the problem right now. When millions of dollars are made on a single day, stale data is worthless data.
Dashboards Aren’t the Turnkey Solution Businesses We Were Hoping
As if that weren’t enough, real-time AI analytics vendor Anodot explains that actually implementing solutions that include these KPI Dashboards for Business Intelligence is commonly a long process that includes lots of secondary costs, often not mentioned by the BI vendor’s slick sales pitch.
Many of these additional costs stem from the fact that these BI platforms require lots of custom integration with customers’ systems, or additional costs in the form of data connectors from other providers. Custom integration requires the time and expertise of programmers, data scientists and data analysts — labor that doesn’t come cheap. Oh, and that doesn’t include the time invested by the CTO, CDO and your IT staff, which surely counts for something.
Such complex, large scale integration is a major project that requires not only new code to be written, but also extensive testing before going live. The long timetables, inevitable delays and integration costs means these BI tools have a very long time to value.
How long will you end up waiting for insufficient BI?
As we’ve seen in the four flaws discussed above, even when a traditional BI system goes live, it is unable to give you specific, actionable insights in real time. These systems require separate tools for analysis and alerts. Their dashboards connect to stale data and are unable to scale beyond a dozen metrics, forcing you to decide which metrics to measure and thus opening the door to missing vitally important signals. If you can’t react at the speed of your business, why bother?
Proactive Analytics to the Rescue
Unsurprisingly, BI KPI dashboards are steadily losing ground to AI analytics solutions which use machine learning to correlate and collate the subtle (and not so subtle) signals in a business’ time series data. Because they are able to monitor millions of metrics and provide concise, real-time alerts, they make KPI dashboards obsolete, freeing up your analysts to perform actual analysis. These full-stack analytics platforms multiply the productivity of your executives and analysts by taking them out of an infinite monitoring loop.
This shift to intelligent, event-driven, proactive analytics is finally providing companies of all sizes the real-time actionable insights they need to grow their revenue and reduce their losses.
About the Author
Debbie Fletcher is an enthusiastic, experienced writer who has written for a range of different magazines and news publications over the years. Graduating from City University London specializing in English Literature, Debbie’s passion for writing has since grown. She loves anything and everything technology, and exploring different cultures across the world. She’s currently looking towards starting her Masters in Comparative Literature.