From Dashboards to Actionable Apps: The Future of Analytics
Dashboards are dead.
Just kidding, you can keep reading. Your beloved, painstakingly-arranged, all-encompassing dashboards aren’t going anywhere. Dashboards are great, and they will always have a place in the world of analytics and BI. That being said, for every power user who lives in their dashboards and loves them, speaks the language of data, and can’t imagine life without them, there are countless other business users who could get immense value out of insights from their data and will never experience them, because dashboards aren’t for them.
Rather than stay shackled to this all-or-nothing approach, why not give each individual user the right analytics, data, and insights for them, in an easy-to-understand app or standalone widget? Or maybe you embed those insights right into their workflow, into a tool or product they already know and use all the time. And if you could put the ability to take action right alongside the analytics in question, even better, right?
The world of analytics and data is changing. Not every user who could benefit from insights is going to become a dashboard jockey and BI expert. And now they don’t have to! The ability to leave dashboards behind and create data experiences is putting more insights into the hands of more users than ever before. Embedding, customizing, and integrating those analytics widgets into other business apps is flipping the script: users don’t come to the data, the data comes to them.
The result: more engaged users, quicker decisions, and better results. Read on to see the future of analytics, beyond the dashboard.
Experiences > Dashboards
Buyers don’t want a power drill, they just want to put a hole in something.
While analytics and BI superusers love dashboards—getting buried in data, digging into every KPI, and coming up with ever more intricate visualizations—most users just want the bottom line: Are sales up or down? Is this social media campaign reaching a large audience or not? Do we have enough coffee to make it through the week?
That’s why analytics platforms are expanding their features to include more and more ways for users of all kinds to get the data and insights they need in easy-to-digest bites. Instead of setting the table for a whole dashboard just to get one piece of information, they break the desired KPI out into a standalone app or widget.
This way of presenting data and insights now has legs! It can go where the user needs it most: on a phone or other mobile device, embedded into another application, or as a standalone app, but with a twist.
These versatile, bite-sized analytics utilities can be outfitted with functionality that allows users to take action right alongside the information (and, yes, even within a dashboard), wherever it best fits into their workflow. That makes a certain kind of sense, right? Instead of jumping between where the data lives and where the work gets actually done, users get insights and actions in the same place. It’s a great way to boost analytics adoptions and improve outcomes and efficiency, all at once. Best of all, what this synthesis looks like is up to each individual user.
Analytics your way
It’s not enough to just free your users from reliance on dashboards by giving them widgets, apps, and embeddable analytics paired with actions. Each business- and user-type has different data and action needs. So the non-dashboard analytics solution they use has to be versatile enough to suit their unique requirements. This is accomplished by embedding, customizing, and integrating with other apps.
First off, embedding: The versatile, highly-mobile, standalone analytics utilities discussed above are designed to go anywhere in a user’s workflow that the info and insights are most useful. That could mean they sit on the desktop, giving the user constant updates on KPIs that will drive decisions and actions throughout the day (with appropriate functionality built in). Or the user can stick the insight widget right into their favorite apps or productivity software and rely on the info there.
Customizing: Using standalone data and analytics widgets that are customized to your own way of working is key to adoption and actually getting value out of data. Users can set the look, feel, and visualization to give help them understand the numbers at a glance and know what action to take without having to puzzle over a complicated display. And putting the functionality to take action right alongside the data helps improve adoption and efficiency.
Integrating: One of the best ways to get people to use analytics in their daily business activities is to combine the two. Embedding analytics within apps that users live in every day (like Salesforce, etc.) puts the information they need and the actions they need to take based off that information right in the same place. While dashboards might not be dead, switching between an analytics platform and a work application certainly is.
Portable analytics widgets that can fit right where users need them is one way to combine software and apps of all kinds with data to yield better results and more efficient workflows.
Increased engagement, faster decisions, better results
Technology moves fast. As quickly as users pick up a new piece of tech, they lose interest and forget about it—even if that tech could radically transform the way they work and deliver huge value to them and their organization.
That being said, portable analytics widgets that live within a user’s workflow have huge potential to drive engagement and stay a part of their lives long after the honeymoon phase has ended. Users develop a partnership with these utilities, turning to them throughout their days and integrating them organically into their workflows. This smooth synthesis makes accessing data and insights a natural, easy aspect of their daily routine; not something dreaded or burdensome.
And with this familiarity and regular use of insights comes increased speed to decisions. This is what the whole trend towards bite-sized analytics that can go anywhere has been pointing to this entire time—it’s the destiny of all analytics and business intelligence. We live in an always-on world of data, data that’s becoming too complex and all-encompassing for any single human to handle. But narrowing focus and putting the right insights in the right place for each user to extract maximum value from them and make the best possible decisions is maybe the optimum way humans can harness this upheaval of data
With custom-tailored insights integrated into workflows, every human is smarter and every decision is made better and faster. It’s an edge that very soon no organization will be able to live without.
Use cases: How are people combining actions and analytics?
Combining actions and insights in highly portable widgets and apps gives users the freedom to custom-design experiences that suit their workflows. Two key features that allow standalone widgets to interact with other systems are webhooks and writebacks. There are also a variety of ways that the look and feel of the app can be customized, based on that functionality.
Webhooks and writebacks give standalone analytics widgets the ability to interact with other systems and make users more efficient. Writebacks update the systems of record while staying within the context of the widget, while webhooks can post and even launch processes in other applications. A webhook between a widget and a transaction database could simplify completing a new sale by alerting the user to click the ‘buy’ button when the item in question reaches a certain price. The user could even have the choice to purchase, add to a wishlist, or send a link to a colleague (instead of being locked into only one action). The system provides the data and insights, then the human user makes a decision and takes action. And simplifying a buying process is just one way this kind of system can be used: launching marketing campaigns, opening up a support chat, and triggering other processes are all possible within a flexible, customizable framework.
These frameworks also give users a wide array of visualization options to display datasets. Carousels rotate through multiple KPI’s and visualizations within one widget. Or use a slide bar and apply filters to datasets by moving units on a bar higher or lower, which then dynamically updates the datasets in the visualization. Users who want to focus on one thing at a time can use a “light box” feature to display an image or video that fills the screen and dims everything else. Whatever will help users work more efficiently, standalone widgets can be tailored to provide an experience that works for them.
What’s out there now?
Analytics and BI companies already know that giving users custom-tailored analytics widgets and apps and embeddable utilities is the way of the future. Here’s a peek at some market approaches that are being developed right now:
One direction is to allow users to create extensions that integrate visualizations, writebacks, advanced and predictive analytics. This is a step towards combining user actions and insights, but doesn’t allow for portable insights that can live anywhere or be embedded into other applications.
Another direction is to enable Admins to integrate predefined actions from a list of third-party services that are already integrated with other BI tools. In some cases, there may be a limited number of applications that can be integrated with a single predefined command, severely limiting user choice and customization.
Some approaches include infographic tools that allow customers to create visually insightful communication materials (charts, graphs, text, tables, etc) and automate delivery to large audiences. However, this approach doesn’t allow users to take actions alongside the data/insights.
Dashboards aren’t dead, but the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to portable, tailored analytics widgets that can go anywhere and do just about anything. As more and more applications are being built with analytics as part of the core offerings, like WordPress site hosting software and Hive for team productivity management, the line between daily-use productivity tools and analytics software will start to blur until it becomes meaningless.
In the meantime, analytics and BI companies like Sisense will continue focusing efforts on giving users customizable, highly-portable analytics widgets that can go anywhere to help users get the insights they need to make a difference in their workflows. AI elements integrated into analytics platforms will also make it easier for non-technical users to navigate these systems and extract and share insights that they never could have come up with on their own. The future of analytics and BI will take many forms, all of them bringing insights and data to humans with much less heavy lifting
Your organization has data and you need the insights locked away within it to be competitive. If your workflow tools aren’t giving you the insights you need to make better decisions, faster, then an embeddable analytics widget could help you close the gap.
Sisense BloX turns complex data into actionable analytic applications
Sisense BloX give users a robust array of templates to use to design standalone analytical widgets and integrate user actions into them. A widget that tracks inventory can be combined with a button that triggers a new order. Or add a utility tracking team member efficiency into your project management software for a real-time look at how everyone is performing, alongside the task-tracking interface. Wherever analytics and insights could help you in your daily tasks, BloX has it covered.
See how easy it is to turn complex data into actionable analytics applications.