Business Intelligence (BI) has long been delivered through dashboards that promised self-service, but adoption rates remain low among business users. While adoption may be low, more organisations are looking towards using BI and data dashboards in the future.
In a recent Sisense report, ANZ state of BI and Analytics 2020, 67% of respondents view BI and analytics programs as more or much more important to business operations now than before the pandemic.
The report also says marketing, operations, finance and HR are making the biggest inroads in their use of analytics and employing business intelligence to inform decision-making.
What it Means to ‘Go Beyond the Dashboard’
In a recent blog post, BI Is Dead; Long Live BI author Boris Evelson, VP Principal Analyst at Forrester, explained the perception of legacy enterprise BI platforms comes with some legitimate stigma and baggage.
"It’s technology first, not business-led," he says. "The interface-based user experience doesn’t address ease of use for all business decision-makers; there are too many underutilised reports and dashboards floating around in the enterprise; and signals produced by BI applications aren’t actionable, resulting in a disconnect between BI and tangible business outcomes.”
Dashboards offer numerous benefits across businesses with data that promotes operational efficiencies, better customer service, more value in products and new revenue streams. However, sometimes dashboards come with pitfalls.
If dashboards are not easy to use, and relevant, they can be under-utilised, too broad to address multiple needs, and are often difficult to customise. There also can be too many insights or conflicting insights to provide for in-the-moment needs.
A main challenge of dashboards is that they require an inefficient and focus-intensive deviation from a user’s central workflow. Dashboards also lack inherent analysis or guidance; they describe what has occurred but don’t prod users to make decisions or recommend particular choices based on data. That’s the missing link for companies to become truly data-driven.
The pandemic has also put a spanner in the works when it comes to companies utilising dashboards. The Sisense ANZ State of BI and Analytics report notes over 30% of respondents see workforce issues and new ways of working as a challenge during COVID-19.
12% of respondents also find adapting to shifts in the economy, market, driving revenue and managing cashflow challenging as a result of the pandemic.
Fast-Tracking Actionable Insights and Digestible Data
While analytics and BI superusers love dashboards, most users just want the bottom line in real-time. Users want data and analysis in digestible bites for actionable insights. They need versatile and bite-sized analytics with functionality that fits into their workflow.
According to the Gartner Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021, “Dashboards will be replaced with automated, conversational, mobile and dynamically generated insights customised to a user’s needs and delivered to their point of consumption. This shifts the insight knowledge from a handful of data experts to anyone in the organisation."
Unlocking the Power of Embedded Analytics
Each business and user type has different data and decision-making needs. The “beyond the dashboard” analytics solution they use has to be versatile and personalised enough to suit their unique requirements. This is accomplished by embedding, customising, and integrating with other apps.
The standalone analytics utilities described above are designed to go in a user’s workflow anywhere the info and insights are most useful. That could mean they sit in an application, a process or a workflow, giving the user constant updates on KPIs that will drive decisions and actions throughout the day (with appropriate functionality built-in).
Embedding analytics within applications that users live in every day puts the information they need and the actions they need to take based on that information right in the same place. While dashboards might not be dead, switching between an analytics platform and a work application certainly is.
Whether the end-users are internal collaborators or external customers, embedding analytics into applications and products can help visualise insights to the point of decision, creating increased value to end-users in the context of their role. In return, organisations benefit from the information that empowers them to disrupt markets and innovate, top-line growth and improvement to their bottom line.
The ‘Smarter’ AI Experience
When we think about going beyond the dashboard to what an ideal data analytics experience should look like, we have to touch on AI. It’s not about automating humans out of the process, but supercharging what’s possible.
AI provides a new level of understanding that extends what existing analytics platforms can achieve. That’s because platforms with AI can learn from the patterns of data they analyse. AI can extrapolate insights and suggest new phenomena that may not have been anticipated. It can be leveraged to power exploration widgets and drill down deeper into data to answer business questions — current and even unasked.
According to Gartner Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021, “Smarter, more responsible, scalable AI will enable better learning algorithms, interpretable systems and shorter time to value. Organisations will begin to require a lot more from AI systems, and they’ll need to figure out how to scale the technologies — something that up to this point has been challenging.”
AI algorithms scan entire databases and make suggestions based on both analysis and the usage patterns of dashboard users. As AI algorithms collect more input from users’ activity, suggestions will become insights specific users can act on.
A dashboard or a widget is published with the hopes that people will find it and use it to make informed data decisions and take action faster. This is a good starting point but adoption takes more. Highly customised data experiences that are pushed to users in an automatic way have the best chance of utilisation.
Good business intelligence now breaks down existing barriers of analytics adoption so that organisations can achieve growth and success through delivering actionable insights when and where people need them.
Sisense goes beyond traditional business intelligence by providing organizations with the ability to infuse analytics everywhere, embedded in both customer and employee applications and workflows. Sisense customers are breaking through the barriers of analytics adoption by going beyond the dashboard with Sisense Fusion – the highly customizable, AI-driven analytics cloud platform, that infuses intelligence at the right place and the right time, every time. More than 2,000 global companies such as GitLab, UiPath, Tinder, Nasdaq, GE, Rolls Royce and Philips Healthcare rely on Sisense to innovate, disrupt markets and drive meaningful change in the world. Ranked as the No. 1 Business Intelligence company in terms of customer success, Sisense has also been named one of the Forbes’ Cloud 100, The World’s Best Cloud Companies, five years in a row. Visit us at www.sisense.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.