The world of business always had a healthy appreciation of true and timely information. Maps that charted trade routes containing valuable and sought-after information, and helped people visualise information long before GPS tools. Information about the goods someone would like to trade, and what would they want in return, was also paramount.
In the world before modern communication, information was scarce and valuable. Data points were few and far between. Insights were reduced to the most basic ones. And that kind of a world is completely foreign to us.
With every new day that passes, the world is richer for more than 2.5 quintillions of bytes of data. That's 2.5 billion gigabytes, roughly, of fresh new data that's created every day. Not all that data ends up in various funnels, metrics, or other types of business tools. In fact, fewer businesses are relying on data than you'd think, which is a problem tools like dashboards are built to solve.
Does Every Business Use Data?
Big data gets its name from the sheer volume of information that requires novel ways for computers to process it effectively. But the "big" in "big data" might as well come from the fact that big data is massively popular online. So not only does a Google search for "big data" yield close to seven billion results, but there's also a staggering amount of content online that suggests its usefulness for businesses.
After reading a few of those articles, it would be hard not to imagine every business owner implementing data in every part of their business. But that's not how things are, at all.
Data doesn't reign supreme over the business world. A 2019 survey by NewVantage Partners found that 53% of the survey participants — Fortune 1000 companies — are failing to treat data as a business asset. 31% would say that their organization is data-driven, and only 28% would say that they've created a data culture in the workplace.
The study also showed that nine out of ten businesses are investing more rapidly into big data, so we can expect to see the implementation rates increase. But the reasons behind the poor implementation are not technological in nature. The obstacles are in the people, the procedures, and the lack of organizational alignment.
Dashboards helps consolidate information and provide visualisation of data that's easy to understand.
Why Is Visualisation Important?
Dashboards are visualisation tools. It's their job to take data from any sources you are using and present it in a way that's easy to understand and, most importantly, easy to digest quickly. The improved visualisation can be of tremendous help when bringing data into the workplace culture and work procedures.
It's important to know that, when using large sets of data, you will often have trouble presenting it. Reports are a common way to do it, and they serve that purpose adequately, to some extent. Reports tend to be big and boring, so getting through them can be a time-wasting chore. They can provide a deeper level of insight, though.
The problem is that a deeper level of insight is not always called for. Sometimes, you'll need to take in a large amount of data in seconds, and that's not something you can do with a report. But it is something a dashboard is uniquely built to do.
We know, for example, that using visuals in learning can improve comprehension and that watching visual storytelling is a better learning method than reading an article. We also know that people are strongly drawn to visual content, with customer surveys showing that 91% prefer visual and interactive content. And while there are myths about how much faster the brain processes visuals than text, we know that it's easier to follow a movie than a book, for example. It might be one of the reasons why infographics are such a popular form of content.
A dashboard is basically like an infographic — a visual representation of the crucial pieces of data. The one way a dashboard is better is because it's not static and makes it more digestible. You can see real-time change on it. A dashboard is also highly customizable, which means that you get to see the information you need. And you can understand it better because it presents it with an easy-to-understand visual, be it an icon, a graph, or anything else.
How to Implement a Dashboard and Use Visualisation to better understand your data
One of the best things about using a dashboard is the way you can consolidate the data across your business. There's a wide variety of applications and can be customized to different departments. Such as:
You already know that the dashboard is a visualisation tool, and that also means that it simplifies data representation for users. So instead of long rows of explanations and data points, you get a couple of charts with a few words. It's built and customised to show a small part of all data you need therefore make you focus on the data that matters the most instead of getting lost in the sea of information.
Determining which sets of data matter the most and to whom will help integrate the use of data into processes. Department heads will have to come up with a list of data points, among other requirements, they need from the dashboard. They will have to think about the important KPIs they want to keep an eye on in real time.
That's the perfect time to find a place in the process for the data the dashboard provides. Because the whole point of using a dashboard is to have quick access to essential data, using the dashboard doesn't have to be time-consuming, so it's easy to fit it in. Plus, it will look great, and people like things that look great.
The key takeaway is that by the power of data visualisation, dashboards can solve businesses' issues with big data implementation. It's easier to see multiple data sources at a glance to help understand your data.There's nothing better than having access to actionable data whenever you need to make an important decision. Well, nothing except seeing that same actionable data on a well-designed dashboard. Visualisation really is the best way to use data, and the dashboard is the best tool for that job.