A quote from a Venture Beat post that paints a bright future for BI (Business Intelligence) dashboards:

Say farewell to static charts pasted onto presentation slides — the new standard is shareable data stories

I have heard it many times before. Your new BI system plugs into whatever data you have, you click and browse through the data, and automatically the most insightful slides and tables are generated, on the spot.

I think BI vendors are mixing up a few quite different activities:

  • Analysis is finding the problem and solving it, presenting is communicating the results and getting people to act.

  • Freely flowing in data, slicing, dicing, charting, is analysis. It is actually pretty hard to find what is going on in a business, especially with an overload of data available. This is definitely not something you do in front of a live audience.

  • Once you have identified the problem, and even found the solution, it is again pretty hard to craft that one chart that explains it all in less than 5 seconds. You need to take exactly the right data, cut it the right way, and highlight the right trend. Again, something that takes too much time to do live.

Where I see role for these type of dashboards, is after you did the hard work: you figured out what data is important, what statistics to track, what charts to show. Then, you can use the power of modern BI systems to pull together slides on the spot. You get instant updates about the state of the business today, or you can apply your methodology to other business units, other geographies and see what you can learn.

So BI systems don’t solve problems on the fly, they automate the data in your deck, after you did the hard work of actually designing a good old static chart, probably by hand.

Photo by Jason Coudriet on Unsplash

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