In the case of Tech Image, a public relations firm, its client-facing PR-activity dashboards are designed to display a campaigns success, current status and progress toward goals. Each client selects the KPIs most important to their campaign objectives. For example, they may elect to monitor media coverage, quality of the story, overall tone of the article, content and budget to ensure the results are in line with the cost of the program.
Coupling the ability to quickly view and assess information, the benefits realized from these dashboards include opening up more time for strategic planning, removing the guesswork of assessing each activitys impact and providing users with insight to determine if goals and objectives have been met or if they remain on track. With 24x7 access to data about the program, near-real time reporting, and the ability to spot trends over time and make adjustments, these dashboards let clients recognize the value of their campaigns.
In addition to providing the insight needed to tailor activities to ensure success, the dashboards empower users to map PR activities directly to lead generation. Quantifying the connection between increasing brand awareness and an uptick in sales has long been a contention between PR firms and their clients. Until now, it has been nearly impossible to prove. Using dashboards to track specific activities and their results enables users to see the correlation and the results the PR campaign provides.
Address Dashboard Challenges Before They Become Obstacles
Like with any software application, dashboards are only valuable when populated with the appropriate data. Therefore, it is critical that organizations identify the metrics or KPIs that best represent the health of their company. For example, a financial institution must track risk management and net income, whereas a manufacturer needs to monitor its supply chain and the production of goods.
The process for defining the KPIs that will bring the intended insight can be difficult and will certainly be time-consuming. However, if this step is not given the full attention needed, the dashboard will not offer optimal performance and cannot support users in smart decision-making.
Dashboards are powerful tools. Sometimes the results or the fear of what the data will show creates conflict. In one case, a health care provider found that deploying this technology to track patient satisfaction created an intense backlash from clinicians and an initial distrust of the process. Complete transparency of the initiative and why it is being implemented is an important part of the rollout process.
It is also important to note that because dashboards display critical KPIs in a very straightforward and clear manner, there is a chance that decision-makers may observe trends that put them in a difficult position. The ineffectiveness of a particular part of the organization can be made very obvious and indicate the need to dissolve a department or arrange for a function of the company to be better serviced by alternative means.
Dashboards Full Throttle
It is clear that dashboard technology is taking a larger role in the BI initiatives of organizations. With the amount of data gathered and stored it is imperative that tools designed for the express purpose of providing visual intelligence be seen as a valuable resource, not a toy or an option that may or may not be deployed. Tracking, monitoring and analyzing the information that makes up the backbone of a company is the only way to ensure a businesss ongoing health and prosperity. Visually rich applications that make this insight available in near real-time, drive quick, intelligent decision-making.
Shadan Malik, president and CEO of iDashboards, has worked with hundreds of businesses and global enterprises to address their specific needs and architect dashboard solutions for organizational scorecards, finance, operations, customer service, quality control and supply chain. He holds two patents in the area of data visualization for dashboards. As an expert in this field, Malik authored the first book on dashboard best practices, Enterprise Dashboards: Design and Best Practices for IT.
Dan Germain is senior executive of strategic business development with Alexandria, Virginia-based nonprofit software provider Advanced Solutions International.