I have written before about the need to draw a line between the data analysis and data delivery layers. I have also covered the importance of catering to each and every type of “information consumer” when choosing appropriate dashboards or insights, insisting on leaving operational metrics out of the enterprise reporting picture.
Applying both ideas takes serious effort on the part of data analysts. In particular, they are being asked to accept that:
a) There is a serious divide between analysts and business stakeholders, and the latter do not often find the time or drive for the insight discovery process, as a result asking for straight facts and quick answers instead of powerful slicing-and-dicing capabilities
b) Everybody will consume data in a different manner, with people closest to specific domains and processes demanding real-time updates on micro-measures and those higher up the chain (and closer to business objectives) requiring clear status updates and insights through considerably fewer, more meaningful metrics.
Not easy. It brings memories from all those TV shows where, invariably, a “data nerd” is throwing an unintelligible amount of information at the cool detective only to get interrupted with “Cut to the chase, speak English!”.
But I must now add something that I believe we should aim for in the Enterprise Reporting picture: a focus on performance.
Data is so widely available these days that we sometimes forget why we want it handy. We consume vast amounts of data for entertainment purposes, and plenty of it for educational ones, or just to stay up to date.
Now, Enterprise Reporting is not about entertainment. It is about meeting our objectives through data. Organizations are on a mission to be more profitable, sell more, increase their market value, cut costs, deliver the best possible customer service, etc. Since each process should be feeding into that mission, we should be capable of building a cascading structure of scorecards/dashboards that represents the backbone of our data-driven muscle.
A focus on performance is achieved when that backbone is in place. Only then do dashboards or reports allow KPIs to rule over graphs, tables or ad hoc storytelling. Only then does every possible vehicle for status updates and insight delivery become truly scalable.
The following chart illustrates the depths of Enterprise Reporting, as well as the flavors available to us.
What are your thoughts?
Not Another Dashboard.