4 Ways a Retail Dashboard Makes Data More Valuable

Sep 10, 2013 10:41 AM  By

Before retailers do anything—open a new location, start a new product line or tweak a supply chain—they look to data. So at Domo, we got curious about how retailers and other business professionals actually use that data. In “The Big BI Disappointment” survey, we learned that (not surprisingly) 93% of professionals rely on data to do their job well. But the rest of the story is, well, disappointing:

  • 57% don’t have access to the data they need
  • Only 20% feel that the data answers their questions
  • 68% regularly have difficult making sense of their data

In light of these statistics, I wanted to share with you four ways a dashboard can bridge the chasm between the data you have and the insights you need.

Create data integrity

Before you can use your data, you have to be able to trust your data. But when reports are coming in from multiple sources, data gets cluttered, outdated and mistyped—in other words, it loses integrity. By putting your data in one dashboard, you create data integrity and avoid these three pitfalls of disparate data sources:

  • Inaccurate data — It’s hard enough trying to compare data from multiple systems. The data isn’t configured to work together, human error is rampant and the analysis takes a long time (think “apples to oranges”).
  • Incomplete data — It’s tough to see the big picture when there are missing pieces of the puzzle. Putting all your data in one place helps you see everything you need, when you need it.
  • Stale data — Retail data changes constantly, and you can’t afford to act on data that no longer represents the current state of your business.

View only the essentials

I’ve written a lot about being a “data-driven” retailer. But don’t mistake that to mean “drowning in numbers,” “buried in spreadsheets” or “performing analysis on your own.” Data needs to drive decisions, but we have to strike a healthy balance between staying informed and getting lost in the weeds.

You need to be able to drill down when things go awry, but otherwise, you need something that keeps you at a high level without getting mired in the minutiae. A dashboard worth its salt will help get the specific information you need.

Get data in real time

No matter how well you have handled business without real-time data, you’re virtually guaranteed to improve efficiency when access to your data is available as business happens.

It’s like having a flat tire—you can fix it several days later, but driving on it is going to cause more problems than if you had found it and fixed it immediately. So if there’s a hitch in the supply chain or a change in sales, you need to fix the problem before you end up losing revenue. Any delay in getting that information and making the right decisions translates directly to dollars lost.

Make data visible to decision-makers

We’ve grown accustomed to waiting for reports from several places, and BI teams or IT teams are often the gatekeepers to all the data. We executives have been happy to let them hold the keys, because we just don’t have the time to deal with multiple systems.

But abdication is not delegation—and where data is concerned, we can’t afford to abdicate access to our most important asset. Now more than ever, retail leaders need access to critical data without having to go through another department to get what they need. That means your dashboard has to make the data accessible to the people who need it most.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

We all invest in data. But we’ve been trained to accept inefficiencies in how we access, consume and use the data in which we’ve already invested. We can generate more revenue and run a more efficient business when we get all our data in one place. Retailers don’t have to accept the status quo of separate systems and confusing reports: demand more from your data experience, and you’ll find the system that is built to fit the bill.

Steve Wellen is COO of Domo.