REVIEWER: Ken Krause, creative director for Tech Image.
BACKGROUND: Tech Image is a Chicago-area high-tech public relations firm.
PLATFORMS: Windows Server.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Deployment of client-facing dashboards empowers Tech Image to solve the number one pain of its clients - access to quantitative and qualitative data that proves the success of PR campaigns.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Tech Image PR dashboard program enables each client to closely monitor three to five key performance indicators graphically demonstrating the health and progress of PR campaigns. These client-selected KPIs are built into a display and illustrate the programs performance. Clients using Tech Images PR dashboard program have realized various benefits. First, the actionable insight gained is tremendous. Dashboards provide data in near real time, ensuring that users can easily track performance of PR initiatives and spot trends that may indicate a need to change course. Another benefit is rapid reporting. Instead of waiting until the end of the month to see what occurred in the past, dashboards provide an ongoing measurement of press releases issued, clips generated, quality of a product review, PR spending versus Web hits and other parameters. Users find this invaluable, especially in the current economic climate. With one simple graphic showing everything that has been accomplished in the last 12 months, there is no guesswork regarding how the campaign is running. Offering up-to-the-minute insight of performance and the ability to spot trends that may indicate a need to change course, dashboards provide actionable insight not available from static reports.
STRENGTHS: Due to iDashboards offering standalone dashboard technology, Tech Image can easily deploy it to its clients without the expense and complexities associated with installing an end-to-end BI suite, while ensuring the benefits associated with business intelligence are realized. The ease-of-use and customization capabilities have allowed Tech Images clients to quickly adopt this innovative tool and rapidly achieve results. Additionally, the visual intelligence offered empowers users to easily assess how a PR program is affecting lead generation and Web site traffic.
WEAKNESSES: A weakness we have found has to do with the pie charts. We were not always able to display the information the way we wanted due to how the data must lay out on the Excel spreadsheets. Information from the columns does not agree with the labels, i.e., the pie segment for health care might be labeled manufacturing, which is the next column over. The workaround was to turn that labeling off.
SELECTION CRITERIA: The Tech Image team reviewed several options for enhancing its reporting capabilities. The first lesson learned was that offerings from the PR sector were too similar to what was already in place. They would have caused Tech Image to supply a dashboard based on the information the suppliers could obtain rather than what the client wanted to see. It was not until the team went outside the industry, to the world of BI, that a robust tool coupled with a visually appealing user interface could be found.
DELIVERABLES: iDashboards provides a unique dashboard view of key performance indicators. These show up as charts over the Web. Tech Image uses a variety of charts bar, pie, speedometer-like gauges, combination charts (line and bar together) depending on what the client needs to see. They are based on data in Excel spreadsheets, which can be viewed if the client so chooses. Normally, however, they prefer to focus on the dashboard itself.
VENDOR SUPPORT: iDashboards support was excellent. They sent a resource to install the product, working with our parent companys IT department, and then spent two days training our personnel on how to use the product. By the time the trainer left, we had a strong understanding of how to prepare data, upload it and create dashboards. The product has been extremely easy to work with and intuitive, so we have not had a lot of need for technical support. On the occasions when we did, they were prompt and thorough in their answers. Probably the best part of working with the vendor is that the product works so well we dont need to contact them a lot. They also do a good job of checking in with us to see how things are going.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand. The biggest challenge was getting deeper into the functionality of Excel in order to minimize data entry duplication. Once we understood that, and how to create conditional cells, the rest was easy.
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