Executive Dashboards and BI – Solving the Executive Blind Spot

Every company has large amounts of data sitting in databases across the organization. There are database administrators and developers that know about all of this data. They know that this hidden data could be information, business intelligence, that could be used for decision making on all of the management levels.

In most cases, this information doesn’t bubble up to the executives that make the decisions and if it does, it isn’t in a format that is easy to decipher. This information could mean competitive advantages and a differentiator for the company if it could be accessed by executives and management while they are analyzing and making decisions.

[note class=”info”]Why is this information not being used? Is it because it is hard to find the important nuggets of information in the waves of data? Yes, this is part of it. Expert analysis and knowing where to dig can solve this problem. It takes some concentrated effort by people who understand both the business strategy and the data. [/note]

Part of the problem is finding the important pieces of information. Another challenge is analyzing the data and figuring out what it means to the business. Most developers know the data is there and have an idea that it could be important, but they don’t understand the business from an executive level to know what is important and sometimes don’t have a dialog with the executive that could most benefit from this information. I call this the “Executive Blind Spot”.

Some of the things needed to fix the “executive blind spot” are:

  • Understanding the business strategy
  • Understanding what data is being collected
  • Identifying the data that is important to the business strategy
  • Determining what level of data is needed in decision making
  • Extracting the important data into a summary data warehouse
  • Developing a BI dashboard
  • Implementing the dashboard for the decision makers

The end result of this concentrated effort should be a BI dashboard that presents the information in easy to understand graphs. The executive should immediately be able to view and understand snapshot data as well as information gathered over time (trending).

BI Dashboard

Designing the dashboard takes business and data knowledge. Knowing what data is important and designing components that pull the appropriate data for presentation is key to building a valuable dashboard. Some executives use their dashboard as their default web site and check on it throughout the day/week/month to be on top of the business indicators that make a difference in their business.

BI Dashboard

Bringing the valuable data to the eyes of the executive team closes the “executive blind spot” and allows them to make decisions in real time. The dashboard tightens the “decision to information” gap and allows for better decisions and quicker iterations in response time to market and industry events.

Here are some examples of valuable dashboard information for executives:

  • Financial information – Sales, expenses, overhead, receivables
  • Technical information – Errors, users, bugs, alerts, ad programs and results, merchant data
  • Project information – Schedules, backlogs, successes, backlogs, workflows
  • Client information – Contacts, meetings, new sales, products, inventory, volume, transactions
  • Partner information – Leads, sales, inventory, meetings, contacts

All of these dashboards should have drill down links to more information from the summary presentation on the dashboard.

NewSouth Interactive is working on several dashboard projects including client dashboards and executive BI dashboards. We find that it is sometimes easier for an outside group to evaluate and help develop these applications because the company IT staff is overloaded with other projects.

It’s also easier to evaluate business and IT information when you aren’t embedded in it day-to-day. We recommend having the company IT and management group involved in the process because both have valuable insights and stakes in building the dashboard.