When using tools to visualize CRM, sales, website, and other data, are you more like Leonardo da Vinci or Leonardo the Turtle?
Dashboards, infographics, and visualizations have been on my mind a lot this year. I've always loved turning data into pretty colors and patterns, which is great as the number of dashboard projects for consultants like me has gone through the roof in the past couple of years.
The projects I've worked on, even just in 2012, have been at times affirming as an analyst, have driven some key business relationships, but sometimes have been very frustrating. I've been made to feel like Leonardo da Vinci when in one project I simply merged two data sets with a customer ID, drew a two axis line chart, and saw the client nearly fall off their chair in amazement. But I've also been involved in projects that made me feel like Leonardo the Turtle, wading through a sewer of data and misunderstood objectives.
It's made me think a lot this year about the responsibilities and checklists from both a client and agency perspective. To get the best out of your dashboard project, whether it has two data sources or 202, here are a few key learnings and things to think about for both sides.
For agencies or those internals teams tasked with building the tool:
Learnings for clients or the teams, like marketing, who are going to be using the tool:
I haven't even begun to talk about which is the right visualization tool or what metrics are the right ones to include. From a structural perspective, data is a messy plate of spaghetti. But if you are prepared to audit properly, spend time developing the right metrics, and ensure there is an after-life for your dashboards then the visual impact will be dwarfed by the business impact from all your hard work.
John D'Arcy is the Head of Numbers at Seren, a Foviance Group company. Seren is a U.K.-based consultancy that utilizes data analytics and user experience to help improve customer experience. John has helped clients measure and optimize their marketing communications for over 15 years across digital and traditional media. He's been able to utilize the modeling and statistical skills he learned in the offline world to bring a more rigorous approach to the digital analytics industry. John's team at Seren are certified professionals for a number of technologies including Google Analytics, Adobe-Omniture, and Webtrends.
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