Captain Dash's solution for Unibail-Rodamco

How Captain Dash answered Unibail-Rodamco's needs, interview with Julien Marlot, Head of CX Digital Solutions. "A first dashboard is finalized and deployed on 65 malls with digital KPIs: from social networks, mobile apps to websites and a second dashboard coming up soon focusing on key features to boost the usage rate." - Julien Marlot, Head of CX Digital Solutions.

Unibail-Rodamco & Captain Dash from Captain Dash on Vimeo.

Stay updated and learn more on Captain Dash, follow us on Twitter subscribe to our blog.

La solution Captain Dash pour Unibail-Rodamco

Comment Captain Dash a su répondre aux besoins d’Unibail-Rodamco, rencontre avec Julien Marlot, IT Digital Marketing "Un premier dashboard sur 65 centres autour des KPIs digitaux : réseaux sociaux, applications mobiles et sites web, et un prochain sur les fonctionnalités clés dont nous voulons booster l’usage. » - Julien Marlot, IT Digital Marketing à Unibail-Rodamco

Unibail-Rodamco & Captain Dash from Captain Dash on Vimeo.

En savoir plus sur Captain Dash, suivez-nous sur Twitter ou abonnez-vous à notre blog.

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 KPI Curse

KPIs have a way of turning many organizations on their heads. Sometimes this happens because there are too many KPIs and too much data being gathered but often times it is because KPIs are misunderstood.

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator with the emphasis being on indicator though people often tend to put the emphasis on performance. Due to this, KPIs more often than not become very closely entangled with targets.

At Captain Dash when we consult with our clients over KPIs we advice them to narrow their KPIs down to metrics that are closely related to the global goals of the organization.

By this we mean that KPIs are not the goals themselves; instead they are indicators of said goals. For us, KPIs help us to measure certain data points that help us to determine the progress made towards achieving our goals and delivering on our key priorities. This thus implies that KPIs indicate whether we are on track or not. They exist to provide objective information, which helps us to strategize better.

If on the other hand when one uses KPIs as targets they end up as short-term numbers to be achieved by departments and just serve as a scorecard more than anything else.

There is of course a reason why KPIs and targets get mixed up together. Other than the fact that they are both metrics there is the fact that for KPIs to work they need targets or benchmarks. It is very easy to see these targets as the targets that the organization or departments need to achieve.

Do not let them confuse you, these benchmarks serve as a reference point to see if we are on track and how much adjustment is needed, if any, in our strategy.

If you use KPIs are the indicators they are meant to be and let them guide your strategy they end up as very powerful tools to guide improvements across the organization.

On the other hand, an indicator that you could implement to measure progress could be the Key Transformation Indicator or KTIs.

Written By: Meghna Verma

 

How to Read a Sankey Visualization

n dimensions + 1 metric

Shows the distribution of a metric on several dimensions, with the value of each dimension’s distribution shown on the next dimension.

Example : It’s possible to distribute the “visits” metric on a “types of visitors” dimension where the values could be “new” and “known”, then distribute the “new” and “known” on a dimension “sex” between male and female.

For Example: Let's say you want to track the entire journey of your visitors. Which channels do they come from? Which pages do they land and leave on?

You can clearly see that the majority of your visitors are new.

Sankey New visitors

Most of your new visitors come directly to your website via url, but a significant portion also come from referrals.

sankey referral

Your known visitors mostly come from organic search.

Sankey organic search

All of your organic search visitors accessed your website from google.com, and most of your referred viewers come from designmodo.com, designfestival.com or forum.vietdesigner.net.

sankey google

sankey designmodo

What about landing pages?

Direct and organic search visitors land on /the-company, /the-product or /home pages.

sankey companyUh oh...your referrals are landing on your /404 page.

sankey 404 You must have removed a page from your website which was referred to by an external link. Something must be done about your 404 page and your /511 page because people land on it and leave without ever finding your home page.

Is this the journey you had in mind for your visitors?

In order to play around some more with Sankey Visualizations you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

Micro Services - A Case for the Sidecar

One of the most fascinating traits of Micro Services is that they are polyglot or as we like to say here at Captain Dash – they are a Google translate that works.

There are obvious advantages of such an architecture, the biggest being that we can use the best tool for getting a job done.

On the other hand it has its fair share of challenges, the most prominent one being that separate libraries need to be maintained for each language used. While such an overhead seems acceptable for 2-3 languages, what happens when we are dealing with 6-8 of them?

Organizations traditionally used virtualization to tackle this issue but with the arrival of Docker on the scene most have moved to containers because of lower overheads. But, containers in Micro Services do exactly what they do in a home – they hide the mess not get rid of it! In this case the libraries still need to be built to facilitate communication except they are containerized.

Here is where sidecars come in. Named after the sidecars on a motorcycle a sidecar is a second application that runs alongside the Micro Service it is attached to and provides a language neutral interface for the micro service to communicate with. It can be said that a sidecar is a glue code that allows for the assembly of various Micro Services components.

Many teams are currently employing sidecars successfully for example Netflix and AirBnB.

They do, of course, come with certain disadvantages. The most obvious being that in process communication is smoother and less prone to bugging. Another issue being that sidecars cannot effectively access all the information inside the parent application.

There is also the point to consider that eventually sidecars will become obsolete because the Micro Services systems are evolving even as speak. Until that happens though the sidecar pattern is a great tool to add to your Micro Services set to facilitate communication and language neutrality.

To stay updated with our series on Micro services architecture follow us on twitter or subscribe to our blog.

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the CMO at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

 

How to Read a Treemap Visualization

1 dimension (hierarchical or not) + 1 metric

A Treemap visualization represents a hierarchical dimension by encoding a metric on each node of the hierarchy.

Example : The hierarchical dimension of geography. On the first level, we can see the distribution of the metric between continents. We can then explore a continent to see the distribution between countries, etc.

Let’s say you want to check out where your visitors are located.

 

 

Treemap Captain Dash 1

Let's Analyze A Bit

At a mere glance, we can see that nearly have of your visitors are in Europe, a quarter in the Americas, the remainder in Asia, and but a few in Oceania and Africa. The “Explore” button gives us a closer look at Europe, revealing that half of those visitors are in the West and the rest are split evenly between North, East, and South.

Treemap Captain Dash 2

Another “Explore” click and we see that more than half of your Western Europe visitors are in France.

Treemap Captain Dash 3

A look at the Americas reveals that the United States accounts for 86% of viewers on the continent.

Treemap Captain Dash 4

Is that where you should open your new office?

In order to play around some more with Treemap visualizations you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

Streamlining KPIs

Measuring performance and aligning goals are synonymous today with KPIs. The most commonly heard complaint is how there are so many KPIs to measure. But, the way to make sure that you are on the right track is to pick out 5 to 10 KPIs.

Why? Because KPIs often have a way of getting confused with metrics. Yes, KPIs are metrics but not all metrics are KPIs.

Any activity that can be measured can be a metric but a KPI has to drive a competitive advantage.

So, what are the key points to be considered when you want to narrow down your metrics to just a few KPIs?

Know your starting point: Take a stock of where you stand with your objectives and metrics. Which metrics are still relevant, which ones are redundant and which ones are missing. What are you already doing at this point and where do you want to go from here.

Build downwards: Start to review your architecture from top down. From goals and results to the methods of achieving them and then down to the measures. When you reach the KPI level you should be able to distribute and allocate them easily.

Vet any new metric: With the amount of data we have coming our way it is very easy to have new metrics all the time and they all seem important to some stakeholder or another. You need to start vetting any proposed metric with a checklist so as not to add senselessly to your core.

Perform maintenance: Periodically go through your KPIs and see if they still serve the same purpose. See if they need to be looked into with the same frequency or can the frequency be reduced. This helps to make sure that no unnecessary components remain on your dashboards. Do not be afraid to replace one KPI with another if that is what works for you.

kpi-298x300.jpg

Of course the cliché of it all being industry related holds true in the end. The thing to remember is that while there is no golden rule the alignment of KPIs with goals is the formula to work with.

Read about Choosing the KPI that works for you.

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the CMO at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

How to read Leaderboards

Leaderboard

The leaderboard displays a metric over a dimension in a way that allows you to easily categorize each dimension value’s “performance” in terms of the metric value.

Leaderboard Visualization Captain dash

In the example above, we can see the amount of revenue distributed over different dimension values (Points of sales). The dimension values are displayed in descending order, from the highest metric value to the lowest which allows us to “stack them” against each other. Travelling down the visualization, we can see that Shanghai is the point of sale selling more, followed by Berlin, then New York, etc.

The general statistics displayed allow us to determine the significance of each dimension value by comparing it to the Total and Average revenue per point of sale.

In order to play around some more with leaderboards you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

Two dimensional Leaderboards

These three different leaderboards essentially offer a different view depending upon how you wish to present your data.

Grouped Leaderboard

Grouped Leaderboard Captain Dash

 

 

The Grouped Leaderboard further segments the revenue by town into “Point of Sale A” and “Point of Sale B”, which allows for a more specific breakdown of information. The two values are grouped together vertically with the superior value appearing first.

Stacked Leaderboard

Stacked Leaderboard Visualization Captain Dash

 

The Stacked Leaderboard combines the two values together, which grants a view of each metric value as a “part of the whole.”

Superimposed Leaderboard

Superimposed Leaderboard Visualization Captain Dash

 

The Superimposed leaderboard displays the total amount of sales on a bar, with a specific segment highlighted for identification. In this case, we can visually pick out the “online sales” from the bar of total sales.

In order to play around some more with two dimensional leaderboards you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

Choosing the right web analytics solution for your marketing needs

Choosing a web analytics tool that is right for you in terms of your requirements, level of sophistication, and budget is no easy task given the number of tools out there. Here, we are not reviewing various available solutions, rather we are going to talk about the points to consider when you are shopping for the ideal solution for you.

analytics-600

Evaluate your needs. What do you need to accomplish, can your company implement the technical solutions, what is the frequency with which you need to generate reports and how reliable are these reports, is your current site compatible with the solution, what are the options and costs for adding more servers in the future and last of all, how much can you currently spend on this?

Examine the breadth and depth of the solution. Is it scalable, easy to use, intuitive, how fast are the reports generated, is the language easy to understand, and last are you able to configure the solution to suit your needs?

Think about the support system provided by the solutions provider. Is the support easily available, are there additional hidden costs, are there any tutorials provided, is there an online community support around the solution and are there any integration services offered?

Company track record. How long has the company been operational, is it stable, are they upfront about costs, is this their core business, are there updates, and is there a commitment to continuously improving their solution.

Approaching your analytics solutions from these four broad angles is a good way to whittle down the options till you are left with just 2 or 3 and from there on you can go into further detail to make your final choice.

At Captain Dash we believe that there is no real silver bullet as far as analytics solutions go. Every business has its own individual needs. This is the reason why when we create dashboards, we take into account the finer details of a given business and provide customised solutions for their needs.

 

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

 

Micro Services Allow us to Innovate!

In our two last posts on Micro Services we have discussed anti-fragility and the ability of Micro Services to survive failure.

 Related to both these qualities is innovation. Micro Services facilitate innovation at a very fast pace, thus making it possible to not only be disruptive but also remain so.

20120830_samsung_innovate

A traditional Monolithic application does not give us much opportunity for innovation. Due to the way it is built, changing things and experimenting can be risky due to the fact that the changes potentially affect every aspect. Thus, any kind of innovation is limited.

 Micro Services, on the other hand, respond very well to changes. The decoupled nature of this structure makes it possible to change each individual service in any way that works best for that particular service. The fact that this is a polyglot architecture gives the designers the freedom to work in the language that works best for a particular aspect of the system. This is not to say that the languages have to be different for it to work but just that the options are available.

Another feature that helps to keep the innovation constant and fast paced is the size itself. A small set of code is definitely easier to change and mould as need be compared to a larger set of codes. Smaller services are also easier to test and deploy thus making it possible to innovate and change faster.

The size and modularity of Micro Services ensures that even if a particular change brings down the application the entire architecture is not affected by the failure. This feature, especially, is what gives the teams the confidence to experiment and play with ideas without the fear of a complete shut down.

Anti-fragility, the ability to survive failure and finally the freedom to innovate is why we, at Captain Dash, consider Micro Services to be our secret sauce. They make it possible for our team to offer innovative, completely customised solutions for our clients – solutions that work!

To stay updated with our series on Micro Services architecture follow us on twitter or subscribe to our blog.

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

How to Read Stacked and Bar & Line Graphs

GROUPED/STACKED BARS

These add a dimension to the bar chart, represented by a group of bars or one « cut » bar on the dimension of the horizontal axis.

Stacked mode allows you to effectively observe the evolution of the sum of elements of a dimension, over the dimension of the x-axis (example: time), and gives you an idea of the distribution of elements within that dimension.

Grouped mode compares the parallel evolutions of each element of the dimension, which is shown by a group of bars.

grouped:stacked bars Captain Dash

Let's say you want to split your visits over time by type of referral. You want to see on a day-to-day basis if your visits are direct from search engines or from other websites to which your website is linked.

At first glance it’s clear that visits from search engines vary little over time, as opposed to direct visits or referrals, which vary quite a bit more and display an almost parallel evolution.

If we switch to stacked mode, we can see that the proportion between direct visits and referrals is regular over time.

What does this mean? That your visitors already know how to access your website, whether it be by typing the URL or because they know where to find a link?

In order to play around some more with grouped/stacked bars you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

 

BAR & LINE GRAPHS

The bar & line visualization grants the comparison of many different elements of the same dimension on two common metrics and is effective in exhibiting a time evolution. This method allows you to see the correlation between two metrics.

bar & line captain dash

Let's say you want to see if an ad campaign is effectively translating to greater web traffic and a higher number of visitors viewing your content. Adding a line representing your website bounce rate shows you whether your paid visits are efficient or if your visitors just leave your website as soon as they arrive.

At a glance, we can see that even if your paid visits vary dramatically, your bounce rate remains relatively consistent over time. You can still see, however, that the slight curve in the bounce rate correlates to the evolution of visits over time. The higher the amount of paid visits, the higher the bounce rate (and vice versa).

So is your campaign worth it? Oh, and keep an eye on your bounce rate...it seems to be increasing over time.

In order to play around some more with bars & line graphs you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

How to Read Bar Graphs and Cumulated Bar Graphs

  BAR GRAPHS

The bars allow the comparison of a large number of different elements within the same dimension, sharing a common metric. Effective for showing a time evolution, that is to say where the dimension is time and each value of the dimension is a date.

Let's say you want to visualize your website's visits over time. Here, the dimension is time:monthly so each bar is a month and the metric is visits so each bar height is relative to the number of visits for this month.

screenshot-visualizationlair.captaindash.com 2015-03-31 13-05-45

At a glance we can see that there’s seasonality in our database, with almost regular sinusoidal variation. At the same time, we can see that 2013 outperformed 2012. As we take a closer look, we see that our best months in both 2012 and 2013 are February, March and April. Moreover, we can quickly spot that 2013 outperformed with a gap consistent with other months. We can also note that September was consistently positive with significant audience peaks, as compared to appalling performance in August of both years.

So, the question that we need to answer at this point is - what does this mean for our business?

In order to play around some more with bar graphs you can head over to the Visualization Lair at Captaindash.com .

CUMULATED BAR GRAPHS

This visualization allows us to follow a progressive increase as the value of each bar is cumulated. In other words, each bar represents the current value added to the value of previous bars. This means that the added value each month can be easily seen in the difference between the value of the current and past bars. Progression of bars that appear constant signifies little increase in value, while steep inclines indicate that the value of the metric has increased dramatically from the previous period.

Let’s say that the dimension is time:monthly and the metric is the amount of Facebook fans.

 screenshot-visualizationlair.captaindash.com 2015-03-31 13-06-07In that case, the bar length represents the total size of the Facebook community and the different between each month represents the amount of new fans. We can then identify the months in which community size increased significantly. The community size increased more significantly between June and July 2013 in comparison to July and August.

Here the questions we can answer are - Was your Facebook post content different during the former period? Were you more active online?

In order to play around some more with cumulated bar graphs you can head over to the Visualization Lair at Captaindash.com .