Successful Dashboards

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Dashboards, like the one in a car, help you reach your destination by highlighting important information and trends. This information can spark an action, for example, when the fuel light flashes on, it is time to start looking for a service station.

Below is an example of a simple interactive dashboard using environmental information collected from my internet of things (IoT) Windowsill project.

Principles of successful dashboards include,

  • Customer focused – the purpose of any business process is to efficiently deliver value to your customer. The customer’s expectation determines many of your measures and performance targets. In fact, publishing dashboards for your customers may even be a competitive advantage
  • Action oriented – Also known as forward looking measures. Try to predict things that can go wrong and decide what actions to take if such an evet occurs. Be prepared to proactively address complications rather than apologizing later, or worse realising your customers have moved on
  • Interactive – at least to the extent that users can drill into certain aspects such as dates, people or steps
  • Automated – Dashboards that require some poor soul to collect information from a myriad of people and places tend to die off over time. Moreover, that energy is better invested in performing and improving products and services

Let’s evaluate the dashboard above from my internet of things (IoT) Windowsill project. In this case, the customer’s expectation is that plants on the windowsill thrive and grow. What measures should be reported? Environmental factors that lead to healthy plants are presented – temperature, humidity, and light. Temperature is an example of a potential risk, especially in wintertime when it may get too cold for tropical plants. With that in mind, a mitigation plan is feasible, for example, turning on a heat pad nearby to raise the local temperature to acceptable levels. The dashboard is action-oriented and even in this example, the mitigation is easily automated. You can drill down to different time periods and geographical locations.

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