Dashboards are a great tool for analysts, but too often they fall short of driving action. This has become frustrating for managers and decision makers. We regularly hear this on calls with customers and prospects who are quite frankly drowning in dashboards and underwhelmed by the amount of data-driven activity taking place in their organization. This is such a common problem that the industry has even given it a name: "The last mile analytics problem.” But what can be done about it?
At RelayiQ, we believe the best ideas for products come from customers. Our own company was born out of our frustrations as customers of analytic dashboarding tools. We knew that dashboards were great tools for analysts, but that they were largely getting ignored by managers and decision makers who don’t have time to monitor dozens of dashboards 24/7 in search of insights. Too often what we saw were teams of analysts building a never-ending stream of dashboards that seldom got used because extracting value from them was too complicated, time consuming, and labor intensive. We solved this problem by using machine learning to automatically detect insights within dashboards and by giving managers the tools to prescribe actions based on these insights so that they can notify the right people on their team at the right time to take action. Or so we thought.
The truth is, there was still a missing piece. We may have solved the issue of surfacing insights, prescribing actions, and notifying the right people to take action, but our tool could not track compliance to see if the actions were ever taken. It became increasingly clear to us from the hundreds of conversations we have had with customers and prospects that this is what they wanted/needed to close the gap between analytic insights and analytic actions. One of our prospects even gave this “missing piece” a name: “ActionBoards.” ActionBoards, they explained, would show all of the most impactful data-driven actions that could be taken to grow the company and minimize risk. Additionally, the ActionBoard would track who had been assigned these data-driven actions, when they were assigned, and how much progress had been made on them. Nothing drives accountability like providing managers with proper tools to track and manage employee progress against assigned tasks. We think this is the stack of the future for BI automation and envision it looking something like this:
- Tableau and other dashboarding tools at the top for analyzing and visualizing data
- RelayiQ in the middle for detecting insights, prescribing actions, and notifying those who can act on them
- Trello-type project management tools at the bottom to track data-driven actions assigned to your team to ensure follow through and to drive compliance.
Rather than just think about ActionBoards, our amazing R&D team immediately got to work and started prototyping one out. Version one allows you to use RelayiQ’s machine learning to automatically extract insights from Tableau, prescribe actions, and then assign those actions via Trello so that you can make sure people follow through. I have to say, it is pretty damn cool! We even include the rich charts and graphs from Tableau dashboards and the original task assignment from RelayiQ all within Trello. We honestly think our ActionBoard prototype may be an early glimpse into the future of project management, a world increasingly governed by analytics and automation to drive efficiency and analytic outcomes. All companies should be looking to:
- Constantly mine all their data for key analytic insights
- Prescribing data-driven tasks to those who can take action
- Tracking and following up on those tasks through to completion and measuring impact
We think think this BI automation cycle powered in part through ActionBoards could go a long way to solving the “last mile analytics problem,” but we want to know what you think. Does the concept of ActionBoards as we are describing them here make sense to you? Would you use a tool that combined the data analysis and visualization capability Tableau with the insight delivery of RelayiQ and the project management of Trello? Does it make sense for us to build Trello-style functionality directly into RelayiQ or should we just connect to existing project management tools?
If ActionBoards sound intriguing to you and you would like to help shape the future of BI automation tools, we’d love to brainstorm with you to make sure we are building exactly what you want/need. Sign up for a demo (or shoot us an email if you are already a customer) and let’s solve the last mile analytics problem together and start driving measurable results!