Mobile dashboards and efficiency

For years businesses have worked with and focused on desktop dashboards but given the increased mobility and rise in the use of tablets versus PCs in recent years the mobile dashboard has come into the spotlight. While this is but of course a natural progression, the part where things get sticky is how mobile dashboards are created.

Dashboards imported over from the PC version

This is the cheapest way to create a mobile dashboard. Here the dashboard is literally imported over from the computer version as a picture or opens up in a web browser. The user has to scroll on the device to be able to view the entire dashboard!

This is also the worst way of creating a mobile dashboard if the goal is an efficient dashboard.

Squeezing a dashboard meant for a computer screen in to a phone or tablet screen results in what one can only call abstract art.

Dashboards in pieces or Dashboardlets

A dashboardlet can best be described as an independent screen created for a mobile device which when combined with others like it forms a full screen dashboard for a computer.

While this method is better than the previous one it still does not create what one can call a complete dashboard experience on either device. The reason being that while it is created for a mobile device it still has constraints due to the fact that it needs to be fitted on to a computer.

A mobile native Dashboard

The rarest of all three and by far the most efficient is the mobile native dashboard. This dashboard is designed to the specifications of a given mobile device – tablet or phone.

It is completely separate from a computer or web dashboard even if it utilizes the same data sources.

The real estate on a dashboard is considered rather precious but that of a mobile dashboard is even more so. By choosing dashboards especially created for such a space, organizations can maximize the ROI on a mobile dashboard.

In this age of instant gratification not only does a mobile native dashboard make navigating a dashboard on such a device intuitive for a user but, as the Captain Dash team has observed, makes it as quick and as fun as any other mobile app.

Written By: Meghna Verma

The Power of Color in Building Data Visualizations

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Color may seem an activity reserved for comparing curtain samples or choosing between pairs of shoes. In terms of data, science and research, you may think that color hardly factors into the equation. If you want to be professional you use black and white. If you want to be "fun" you use bright colors. Right?

WRONG! Science is no longer as cold and corporate as it once was. An effective visualization is driven by design principles and is created by way of a process in which we make careful aesthetic aesthetic choices that will optimize the cognitive processing of the data.

Colors elicit powerful psychological responses, and so we must choose them thoughtfully and deliberately. Certain colors help us concentrate, others evoke certain emotions, and yet others lead us to look at certain pieces of information and not others. Here are a few principles to keep in mind when designing a visualization:

Be neutral by default The color palette you choose should, above all else, be gentle and easy on the eyes. If you want to display multiple pieces of information, it’s useful to use color variation to distinguish them from each other. However, too many colors side by side looks like a total mess. It’s best to start with a base of soft, standard colors that are easily distinguishable from each other yet don’t demand your visual attention or detract from the information displayed.

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Use for emphasis Brightness, shade, and hue can be manipulated to differentiate and highlight certain pieces of information. “Hot” colors like red and yellow demand our attention whereas cooler colors like green and blue stay in the background and set a neutral base. Similarly, brighter shades  stand out amongst a palette of softer, weaker colors. Keep in mind that if everything stands out, nothing stands out, so use moderation when emphasizing information with color.

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Organize Information We tend to group like colors in our minds and thus we typically perceive similar colors as related. Keep this in mind if you’re trying to group together metrics or dimension values. It's an interesting idea to color-code related pieces of information across a visualization. The eye will logically view the similar colors together and mentally compartmentalize them as a group which increases simplicity and readability.

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Keep the variation between colors distinguishable yet subtle in order to maintain the cohesiveness of the tile pattern or the visualization as a whole.

and finally the Golden Rule… Moderation is Key.


Dashboards and Reporting: Separating the Traditional from the Modern

If you have recently joined our Community and are new to the world of Business Analytics, you may have noticed the explosion in interest in Dashboard Applications (such as ours). Most people in the industry know that collecting valuable Data is paramount to measuring a company's performance and helping you make sound decisions to meet long-term goals. But is this sufficient enough going forward? Not exactly.

Dashboards enthusiast and author Stephen Few described Dashboards as:

A visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives, consolidated.

If you've had any experience with the traditional Reporting of Data, you would have noticed that they tend to be very detailed and complex, as well as a text overload, albeit with some graphs and charts. Above all the format is displayed as a document or printed for distribution among colleagues. It serves the purpose of turning collected data into useful information, however they drastically differ from Dashboards in functionality and usability.

Firstly, Dashboards are more interactive in the process of presenting Data. Varied information can be displayed through visual indicators and a simplistic interface. As well as this, they focus on the individual user, rather than a collection of people, which makes them even more accessible. Only the information that matters most is displayed and gathered from a given dataset. However, the one downside to them is they aren't as detailed as reports but provide faster answers to more important questions at any given time.

In summary, Reporting still remains an important tool to users looking to go deep into their Data, but given companies look to apply emerging technologies with business, it seems perhaps reporting may become something of the past, thanks to Dashboards.

As always,

The Captain.

What is a good retail dashboard?

Until recently, the notion of “dashboard efficiency” was basically summarized to the notion that it should bring the 3 to 5 key indicators in any given business. Dashboard’s ERP essence makes that it didn’t have to be either intuitive or smart, but only to be consistent, not to cheat with the figures and to respect a certain scale. As a result most dashboards were and still are counter-intuitive and almost not flexible.

For instance, most retailers will try to isolate a few parameters like supply stocks, sales, margin, marketing investment along with a few other significant parameters to them. So far it seems ok… and actually, most corporations have been able to isolate what they felt were their “key” factors. But the fast increasing number of distribution channels and marketing funnels have made all this obsolete.

Today, in an ever faster evolving market with one deal a day for all kinds of products, most marketing directors would agree that 3 key criteria must be taken into account:

  • responsiveness
  • prince sensitivity
  • location

These indicators are imbricating into each other, and in itself it is quite difficult to track the data feeds that indicate that consumers are sensitive to a promotion campaign for instance.

For example, one may find out that a special offers in stores are not as successful in an area compared to one other. Parameter such as the wealth, traffic conditions, weather are key to better define a ROI. And most of the time such parameters are not taken into account.

It is interesting to see that most marketing directors would agree that the promotion efficiency is NOT a black box that is impossible to break, but at the same time they also agree that they would need some additional tools to track more parameters, in almost real time, at a very granular level.

This is why in addition to these 3 features (responsiveness price sensitivity, location), a good dashboard must also be able to feature marketers with (i) a access to any type of exogenous factors, (ii) a non expert/ intuitive interface (iii) some easy collaborative features. Marketing of today is a lot about intuition, reaction as well as participation. At a time whereas the business model of the Hypermarket is getting very much challenged, such practice may be capable of revamping their businesses…

Captain Dash is ready to take up the Dashboard challenge