FCPA Procure-to-Pay Travel & Expense Purchase Card Company Culture

The Emperor Has No Clothes! Does Your Dashboard?

on November 06, 2014

Have you ever looked at the dashboards in your business intelligence tool and thought….what stunning conclusion am I supposed to see?

I was on an analyst call last week and we got onto a favorite topic: dashboards. The analyst mentioned how she was inundated by dashboard demos -and they keep getting bigger, better, and cooler looking- but that sometimes she looked at them and didn’t know what conclusions she was meant to draw from the visualization. She suggested that perhaps it was her background and that she was missing something, but I agreed as an engineer and software guy that often times I am perplexed by what dashboards are really trying to say to me.

This conundrum is a problem we hear a lot at Oversight, and it reminds me of my favorite story: The Emperor’s New clothes. Most know this story, in which a vain king who cares only for the finest clothing hires two swindlers who sell him a suit of clothing they say is invisible only to those too stupid to see it.

Like the king, many companies spend thousands each year on the coolest analysis technology (or clothes, to tie back to our original analogy) with the most robust dashboards and reporting capabilities, but without a second thought to what they actually need to derive from their analysis. Many are so caught up in having the “latest “BI tools that they are afraid to say the cool graphics aren’t telling them anything.

Yet just because you can make a beautiful chart doesn’t mean that it’s telling you anything. And although things are cooler looking than ever before, the real value is in understanding the story in the data.

I found the chat with the analyst last week particularly apt, because a #1 priority at Oversight is making sure we deliver the insights from our analysis, so our customers know exactly what they should be paying attention to. We recently unveiled our Spend Analysis for T&E, a dashboard portal for our customers that unveil the most problematic areas in their own spending programs. Our T&E insights tell the story of where company dollars are spent so travel managers can strengthen preferred supplier rebates and relationships, negotiate better rates, and influence “problem traveler” behavior.

Instead of our customers looking at data (or data visualizations like dashboards) and trying to understand what the story is, we want to tell it to them, and have it be easy, concise and understandable…just like a Hans Christian Andersen bedtime story.

Patrick Taylor

Patrick Taylor is an authority in the convergence of business analytics, information security, and the implementation of technology to boost organizational performance. An innovator in his field, Patrick founded Oversight Systems in 2003 and served as President and CEO for 15 years. In this role, he helped hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies improve financial, accounting, and auditing processes. Previously, Patrick held leadership positions with Oracle, Symantec, and Internet Security Systems (ISS). Patrick has a bachelor’s degree Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

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