Author:Kevin Hamilton

February 9, 2022

O Dashboard, Dashboard, wherefore art thou Dashboard?

Don't let good business intelligence get lost in a sea of tools and links.

4 min read

Create an internal marketplace by sharing dashboards within your organisation, leading to synchronised tools and more use of designs.

O Dashboard, Dashboard, wherefore art thou Dashboard?

While I don't think it is necessary to deny thy father and refuse thy name to find the right business intelligence, the current state in many organizations can be disheartening for not only end-users and executives, but also the designers and analysts themselves!

No designer wants to spend time building a tool that is not used.

In a previous blog, we've talked about surfacing tools to decision-makers and how we need to focus on the importance of good design (more to come on that from Matteo Felici in future posts) so that end users can rapidly understand how to engage with the analytic to get to an answer or chart a path forward to solve a problem.

But what about designers and analysts who spend time crafting beautiful tools that people cannot find?

I was reading an essay the other day about how web3 (Crypto/blockchain for the uninitiated) will revolutionize the acquisition of talent by empowering creators to connect directly to businesses, while maintaining control over the value of the marketplace. For those interested in web3 (I'm a big crypto nerd/enthusiast), it's a great read, albeit a bit long as Packy's writing can be. While I love that idea for the future, it got me thinking about the need for an internal marketplace for business intelligence within the walls of an organization.

Many organizations are moving toward, or have already arrived at, a more decentralized business intelligence function where analysts are embedded within a business unit and may report up to a central BI leadership in a matrix format.

I think that's a good way to operate; keep the analysts sitting with the end-users to improve the co-creation process and help the analysts gain expertise in the specific area they work in. But from this model, how do we ensure that great designers and analysts, and their work, are exposed more broadly within an organization? I'd argue that an internal marketplace could be just the solution.

Five key features that would define a well-designed internal marketplace:

  • Tool agnostic: Analysts want to design utilizing the tool that they are most comfortable with, or the one that is best suited for the job. There are advantages and disadvantages to all major business intelligence platforms, so handicapping a designer by channeling them into one tool should be avoided.

  • Searchable and Taggable: Business end-users should be able to rapidly get to the tool that they need to get their job done. They should also be able to browse the catalog of available tools to see if a dashboard or investigation has been created somewhere else in their organization that might benefit their unit. Similarly, designers should be able to browse other analysts' tools for inspiration.

  • Ratings and Usage Stats: The ability to rate a tool would allow designers to understand what end users think about their creation. Additionally, by marrying ratings and usage stats, BI leadership will begin to see who their high performers are and where to deploy resources if there is a tool that is highly utilized but poorly reviewed.

  • Peer Review: By enabling a peer review system, end-users and decision-makers can be assured that a particular analysis has had an additional set of eyes looked over the calculations and data sources.

  • Descriptions/Instructions/Methodology/Etc.: Analysts need the ability to describe the tool, write out instructions (or maybe even record a video), describe the methodology behind the tool, and identify the data sources used.

The above list is certainly not exhaustive but would be an excellent start for an internal marketplace for analytics. We need to ensure that our talented designers can flourish within our organization and are not hidden away within functional areas while also ensuring that their customers have ready access to the tools available within the organization.

While it might be true that "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," but if the roses cannot be found, then we'll never know just how good they can be.

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