What happens when you put a person in front of a dashboard and ask him or her to keep track?
Real-time dashboards are *the* thing right now. A new dashboarding tool pops up every other week, and people are crazy about it, knocking themselves out with graphed statistics. You hear a lot about how this dashboard, or that one, ‘visualizes’ data perfectly, and the hype kind of inflates until people think of a dashboard as the end result, rather than a tool that has to be built and used correctly to make sense.
Yes, dashboards do visualize data.
They help us instantly view data results that would otherwise be pretty hard to analyze. We don’t process numbers in an excel spreadsheet the way that we do a visual graph. So with big data on the rise, the visual dashboards became a way to get all of that valuable data and make it digestible for a human audience. That’s how it ended up running your weekly meetings.
But with (so) many dashboards, there’s a significant learning curve. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle. You don’t just hop on. There are many different controls, views, windows, and utilities built into the average dashboard that require learning. Companies write manuals to walk users through a step by step process, actually large sets of step by step processes, that can take weeks or even months to master.
You don’t open a new board game and start playing immediately, but rather, you read the instructions. That’s how it is with a visual dashboard. Using it requires work, work that you have to put in up front.
Dashboard Fatigue is Real
So, what happens then, when you take a user and sit him or her down in front of a computer, and introduce one neat visual dashboard? And then you add another one – and another? it's not always many dashboards, but rather the many panels you keep adding to your "main database layer "; Maybe one for the CRM system, one for the workforce management tool, one for the sales automation platform and it can go on and on.
Eventually, the work of learning each control and module, each vision and view, breaks down one's concentration and attention spans that even the most tech-savvy, multi-tasker of us, fails to handle in every capacity.
Dashboard fatigue is a problem caused by massive demand for data visualization, along with scattershot approaches to enterprise software. Companies cobble together sets of tools – and then start new hires on the arduous onboarding process of learning and using each one. Somebody asks “where’s this control?” and then “where’s that tool” or even “how do you save this?”.
In His article “Dashboard Fatigue: A Post-Big Data World”, Michael Reeve breaks down some of the issues with the current dashboard trends and big data as a phenomenon that not all of us are handling well.
“This unfortunately does not translate to increased benefits for the end-users, the decision makers and managers of organizations,” Reeve writes about the trend toward clusters of dashboards. “Instead, we find that each piece of software that our organization uses will offer its own API dashboard and reporting suite, and the result is that rather than having a great tool that brings together disparate data to increase insight, we have multiple tools which each offer their own insight but doesn't answer the questions posed by those wanting to drive the business forwards.”
Solutions: Looking at The Big Picture
One of The big questions of today’s software world is the current discourse mirrored in discussions such as this one ,and it seems everyone involved is looking for easy, unified dashboard tools , arguing for “connectivity” on one hand and the need to see the big picture on the other with individual tools linked through Application Programming Interfaces or APIs. The rise of big data has led to an “API economy” which gives companies tools for dealing with the dashboard fatigue problem.
The “big picture” perspective that is so very often the (neglected?) key to the breakthroughs that new technology provides. Data is one of the modern business’s most valuable assets, but if it’s not in the place where it can do the most good, it’s not reaching its potential. For example, useful customer data should be ported to a sales system where it can be acted on. Robust reporting shows companies how to best handle their resources. The value of having data at a firm’s fingertips cannot be overstated, which is one reason why a single, unified dashboard view is so important.
The new and rising approach understands dashboard fatigue and the manifests in producing solutions that deal with the challenges that today’s users are up against. API-centric solutions should focus on compiling data in order to present a unified front that is less challenging than a cluttered hosts utilization dashboard environment. An approach that syndicates all components: from parsing and ordering log data, by combining data tasks, and by introducing a 'looking at the big picture' mentality, will conquer dashboard fatigue and move forward confidently, intelligently, and in the know about what’s going on under the hood of any enterprise suite.
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