No matter what area of business you are responsible for, there are likely countless questions for which you would like to be able to answer more easily. Whether it is sales performance, marketing analytics, manufacturing, HR, or any other function, gathering information and generating reports no longer needs to be the most time-consuming exercise of the month.
With embedded dashboards, we can now place the answers to important questions directly into the applications that we use every day. Rather than spending time cleansing data and creating reports, you can now focus on every day decision making. When considering what embedded dashboards can do to help the organization, I think it is helpful to consider a few before and after scenarios.
1. How is the Sales Team Performing?
Sales opportunity and deal analysis often requires days of back-and-forth data cleansing and report building. Opportunities might be exported from the CRM into a separate database or spreadsheet where the sales analyst or manager manipulates the data in preparation for weekly or monthly reports.
Sometimes, whether intentionally or not, information can be lost or skewed during the data cleansing process, causing sales metrics to look better than they actually are. Other times, it takes so long to prepare sales reports that, by the time they are released, it is already too late and the business has moved its focus to the following month. In either case, the manual report building process is not doing any good.
Embedded dashboards can help us make better use of the sales reporting cycle. Rather than undergoing a manual data preparation process, embedded analytics tools can connect directly to the data without any additional manipulation.
Every time the underlying sales data is updated, so are the embedded dashboards. Sales managers or CEO’s can view updated sales results in real time and gain an instant understanding of how many prospects have been added to the pipeline, how many were closed, and anything in between.
2. Are our Internet Marketing Efforts Effective?
Many businesses spend thousands to millions of dollars on internet marketing. Advertisements, search engine optimization, and referrals are all pieces of most internet marketing strategies. However, even with larger companies, it is not uncommon for each piece of the puzzle to be analyzed completely separately.
For example, data pertaining to Facebook ads comes directly from Facebook while data for Google searches comes from Google Analytics. As the list of networks that we advertise with grows, so does the complexity of analyzing them.
Marketing analytics around media spend is an area where I have seen embedded dashboards shine. In some cases, we can connect directly to the data in each individual platform through our analytics tools. In others, we can take advantage of API’s to load the data into an intermediary data warehouse that we can then connect our visualizations to.
Once this has been accomplished, we can then build custom metrics within the analytics tool to build embedded dashboards around return on advertising spend, advertising cost per order, and ecommerce checkout conversions. Even better, once the dashboards are set up, we can monitor to see how these metrics change in real time.
3. Is Manufacturing Running Smoothly?
Sales and marketing efforts are only as valuable as the products we have available to sell. Clearly, it can be frustrating at best when we are closing sales and seeing great returns on marketing spend only to find out that we are unable to keep up with production.
Even worse, a surprising number of manufacturing organizations see less than optimal output simply due to an inability to predict and detect machine downtime. I have seen businesses with products that are akin to printing money, yet they were unable or unwilling to do what was necessary to increase manufacturing output.
Instead, imagine logging into the company’s manufacturing ERP system, which often will give us information such as the number of pieces produced in a given time period, the amount of material that was scrapped, etc.
We now can easily insert embedded dashboards that provide us with much more valuable information than those high-level metrics. Which machines are down or at high probability of going down? Which stations are experiencing slower throughput or producing abnormal amounts of scrap? The embedded dashboards can provide invaluable answers to these types of questions.
4. How Optimal is our Workforce?
Recently, I worked with a retail client who voiced concern over the ratio of salespeople on the floor to customers in the store. During store hours, managers observed times where salespeople were sitting around with seemingly nothing to do, and other times where they were unable to keep up with traffic.
This type of problem is a doubled edged sword in that we need to schedule enough workers to be able to cover peak times without having an army sitting around when there is nobody in the store. Because of this, workforce optimization is and always will be a complicated challenge. The answer, in many cases, is to download foot traffic data into Excel and play around with schedules until we have something that appears to work.
In this scenario, we might consider connecting to both historical foot traffic data and current data from the workforce scheduling tool. Using these data sources, we can create an embedded dashboard to be inserted into the scheduling tool or some other HR platform.
Fusing the two data sources together yields a more holistic view of the workforce planning process and can yield valuable insights into how many full-time or part-time workers should be on board, how many temporary workers should be hired during peak seasons and holidays, and what mix of these workers should be used during certain hours of the day.
What else can Embedded Dashboards be Used for?
As you can see, there are cases for embedded dashboards for just about any question that might arise in the business. There are countless other scenarios in addition to these few examples where businesses can benefit from the availability of dashboards within their existing applications. Embedded dashboards give us a real-time peak into just about any important area of the business.
To see how Zoomdata can help with real-time analytics using embedded dashboards, click here!