The daily use of business intelligence (BI) dashboards and balanced scorecards by companies of all sizes continues to grow. These practical and cost-effective strategic tools have produced tangible benefits for retail and service businesses, manufacturers, government agencies, financial companies, non-profit organizations, suppliers and many others. C-level executives such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), chief marketing officer (CMO), chief information officer (CIO) and chief financial officer (CFO) often use balanced scorecards and BI dashboards to help measure the success of the business enterprise. As noted by Robert S. Kaplan, “The Balanced Scorecard provides managers with the instrumentation they need to navigate to future competitive success.”
The evolving impact of Big Data on marketing management can serve as an effective illustration of how well dashboards and balanced scorecards serve their intended purpose. In support of diverse responsibilities that often extend from product development to sales management and customer service, the chief marketing officer must regularly facilitate technology implementations that can rival the activities of the chief information officer. This intermingling of consumer-centric marketing and technology was captured in an observation by Laura McLellan of Gartner — she predicts that CMOs will outspend CIOs on IT by 2017.
But how will these marketing investment decisions be made? In many cases, business intelligence dashboards and balanced scorecards will play an instrumental role. However, the Gartner research group states that business intelligence projects continue to exhibit an overall failure rate ranging from 70 per cent to 80 per cent during the past three years. If this statistic seems disappointing, it also portrays a significant opportunity for chief marketing officers (and other C-level executives) to leap ahead of their business competitors by “getting it right” when implementing and using balanced scorecards and BI dashboards.
In the view of Research Optimus, “doing it right” first and foremost means avoiding common mistakes like the following when it comes to business dashboards and balanced scorecards:
- Lack of engagement between designers and end users of the business intelligence system
- Data dumping (too much information)
- Failure to integrate spreadsheet replacement into the process
- Not automating data feeds
- Overlooking the need to be clear about the purpose of the dashboard
- Adopting an overwhelming dashboard that isn’t used
- Ignoring mobile applications
- Use of unclear metrics
- Overloading the IT department with too many new responsibilities
- Confusing uses of color
Some of the common mistakes just noted are discussed in more detail below. While the above list includes many of the prominent problems and mistakes that can reduce the effectiveness of a BI dashboard project, using a data management expert like Research Optimus is a prudent technique for keeping up with new developments and potential problem areas.
Including Too Much Information in Scorecards and Dashboards
By some accounts, providing too much information on a dashboard might be the most common business intelligence mistake. Since simplicity should always be viewed as a primary dashboard benefit, anything that detracts from simplicity should be avoided. With too much data, the dashboard becomes overwhelming to many users. Like the wisdom of a one-page executive summary in a business proposal, an effective BI dashboard should generally be limited to one page.
Relying on Manual Data Feeds to Update the Dashboard and Scorecard
In an era of more and more data, depending on manual data feeds are not a prudent strategy for updating your BI dashboard and balanced scorecard. Smart marketing and business decisions should not be based on old data — insist on current and clean data if you want your business intelligence process to be timely and accurate.
Using a BI Dashboard That Isn’t Customizable
Allowing business intelligence dashboards to be customized by users is a reliable approach to help ensure that potential users actually use their dashboard. If you don’t do this from the start, the BI dashboard creator will be subjected to requests for multiple rounds of customizations. Don’t force different users to use the same dashboard.
Failing to Think About Mobile Business Intelligence
The use of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones should not be an afterthought in your BI dashboard and balanced scorecard development process. Creating a dashboard for desktop use only overlooks the value and potential of mobile business intelligence.
Overusing Color Can Diminish the Impact of BI Dashboards
The tendency to use too much color or the wrong color in BI dashboards and scorecards is similar to the early days of color televisions — when producers and directors often erred on the wrong side about when to use color for dramatic effect. When your business intelligence results are displayed with too much color, there will be confusing visual cues that can lead to a circus look and feel. To avoid both conflicting meanings for specific colors and an overuse of color, plan on devoting attention to how color will be used in detail at an early stage in the BI dashboard development phase.
Business Intelligence Help from Research Optimus
Chief marketing officers and other C-level executives will periodically identify tasks that can be cost-effectively outsourced to expert partners — especially when the internal staff lacks the advanced expertise needed for specialized functions like development of business intelligence dashboards. Research Optimus has a skilled team of BI experts that are ready to help you avoid common problem areas with balanced scorecards and dashboards.
– Research Optimus