To say that good reporting design is helpful to a company or business is like saying that a quarterback is helpful to a football team. Well-crafted reports that are easy to use and contain data that you actually want to see are more than just froth—they're indispensable.
But how often is it that you sit transfixed before your screen for hours, trying to make sense of the numbers before you? And it's not as if you have the luxury of time to keep at it. Time is money, and the longer it takes to figure out the data, the more valuable company resources go down the drain. You need relevant information that's already organized according to your needs一and you need it right now!
Surely, there must be something better out there, some other kind of tool that can help you get out of the endless sifting of data. Because getting the exact information you need is just the starting point, you still have tons of monitoring and executing action plans after that crucial first step.
This article will help you learn to view actionable data by finding what to look for when creating reports and dashboards. Discover what kinds of data you can use and discover some of the best dashboard practices that will give you a clear advantage at work or in business, such as leveraging the capabilities of HubSpot Reporting for B2B.
How to View Actionable Data
It doesn't matter if your database can compete with Google's Knowledge Vault: If it takes mountains of time and effort to produce a single, one-off report, this will eat up your limited time, leaving you with little to do anything else. Multiply that a hundred-fold (depending on how many employees you have), and you have a guaranteed formula for failure. Without the necessary agility and competence to convert insights into actions, any enterprise will fail and join the rest of the corporate corpses littering the road to oblivion. The power to view actionable data is critical if you want to survive and thrive.
What is Actionable Data?
Obviously, it's data that you can action. But you'll need to know more about its implications to understand the impact of actionable data better.
Actionable data all start as raw data. Data analytics, that science that makes sense of data, collects all kinds of unprocessed data. Next, the data is cleaned up. Any incorrect, duplicated, or wrongly formatted data is fixed or removed. Afterward, the cleaned-up information is organized into clusters to analyze and interpret better.
The data viewer or user (that's you) further re-arranges the data to make it useful for their purposes. Your objective in reorganizing the data is to extract deeper insights so you can make better recommendations about a specific course of action to take or decision to make.
But wait一It doesn't end there. You'll need to present your data in the form of reports or dashboards to the decision-makers who will give their take on the information you presented and either approve, disapprove, or make an entirely different recommendation altogether.
When you present data, it's because you want something to happen; maybe obtain approval for an initially costly yet guaranteed-to-work proposal, or perhaps get the board to shift budget priorities, or whatever may be on your schedule. The kind of data you present and how you show it can make or break your deal.
How Actionable Data Can Spell Success or Disaster for Your Company
To learn how to view data you can act on, you must be able to tell what actionable data is and isn't.
In data analytics, you have what you call dark data. No, it doesn't refer to data that's been breached (although it potentially could be!). Instead, dark data is the vast amount of information that has been aggregated (basically, accumulated) by enterprises but has not been beneficial or meaningful to the company in any way. A company may have large quantities of information at its disposal but have not been able to make good use of them. It may be because of a lack of resources to organize the data into meaningful forms, the lack of foresight, or simply just the lack of the right tools that it can use to convert raw data into data they can act on. The inability to harvest insights from dark data can make your company lose out on critical business insights that could give it a clear advantage over competitors.
Did you know that about 90% of a company's data is dark data? And what happens to the rest? The balance is likely processed, and much of it finds its way into presentations. Is this your actionable data, then? Not necessarily. However, you can have an assortment of data silos structured and still not end up with any relevant content for your purposes. This siloing can end poorly in uninformed decision-making, wrong solutions to problems, and lost business opportunities. Without actionable data, you and your company may not be able to keep up with the dynamic changes in today's increasingly data- and innovation-driven business landscape. You don't want to be left in the lurch. How do you transform your data into something of real business value? Let us get into that next.
Creating Effective Custom Dashboards
We get you. You want to be able to craft meaningful reports and dashboards with ease. You're looking for an effective custom report or dashboard where you can display data in a relevant way for the viewer. You also want this data to be accessible and shareable across the different channels and networks within the organization. Of course, it has to come in a user-friendly format that can easily be manipulated by whoever may need it. For our purposes, let's zero in on dashboards, which are more dynamic compared to reports, their more static cousins. How can you tell which dashboard can best work for your needs?
Not all dashboards are created equal. Some may be more sophisticated and have higher functionalities than others, which may be more minimalist. But any dashboard worth its salt must have basic elements or features in place, such as these:
KPI Dashboard Measures
You're always running about and trying to get things done so you can move on to the next task. KPI Dashboard measures will give you that at-a-glance visibility, so you quickly assess how your business is performing versus specific lead metrics called KPIs.
Just like how your broccoli can taste better when it comes as a cheese dish, your data can be made more palatable with colors and graphs that can make figure-heavy data more attractive and "delicious" to the viewer. More importantly, better-looking charts help your audience absorb and grasp the information more quickly.
It's often frustrating to spend many hours working on getting your dashboard's filters just right, only to see all your hard work go down the drain when someone comes along and reboots the entire thing. Global filters can change that for you. This powerful feature helps you customize your filter design at the dashboard level without changing the data source. You can even save your design so that you can get on and off the dashboard without fear of redoing your masterpiece every time. Of course, everyone in your organization can also choose the filter criteria they want, such as objects, fields, and other values, without affecting your filter design.
Real-time Data Processing
Have you created a detailed proposal only to find out that someone beat you to it? Data has become so dynamic that most day-old news is already considered stale and unreliable. Real-time data processing ensures that you get rapidly-changing data at the tips of your fingertips, so what you get is always fresh and timely.
Designing a Great Dashboard
When these dashboard elements are put together, they can create a powerful tool to gain essential insights—if they can come in a dashboard design that will enhance their value. Here are a few ways you can make yours highly effective.
Patterned after an inverted pyramid
You may have experienced being at a presentation wondering when it will end—because the information seemed to be going nowhere. An effective dashboard design can help your audience follow the logic of your presentation so that there can be no mistake about where you are leading your viewers.
When you present, you're technically selling something, whether it's a proposal or an idea that you want your audience to agree to or take action on eventually. This means your dashboard design should also follow a persuasive format. It should start with the big picture, all the crucial facts which present the situation, followed by supporting details. These initial data will set up your "story" so that by the time you get to the last part, the audience would have already been convinced of, or at the minimum, have a firm grasp of your idea or recommended course of action.
While a creative design can make your dashboard more exciting, too much noise on the dashboard can distract from your message. Every piece of information does not have to show up on the same dashboard. Take care to only include those pieces of information that will promote your objective or will absolutely give what your audience needs. Keep the design as simple as you can.
Your dashboard data should be able to lead your audience to what you want to happen instead of just making them go through brain fog. Give your numbers adequate context so your viewers won't have to ask you where you're going. All information must be critical in giving clarity and coherence to your presentation.
Maximizing Your Reports and Dashboards
Applying these top practices can bring up your dashboard designs a notch higher:
Data clutter can bog you down or simply be annoying at best. An interaction design pattern can be used to manage the information glut. It essentially tracks user patterns, tells which elements are most popular, and then relegates rarely-used ones to a secondary screen. This way, you can focus your attention on prioritized content so you can waste less time sifting through so many objects just to find what you need.
The data you share on a dashboard should, of course, be accurate. But if you're presenting comprehensive brand information to a sales team, if your dashboard doesn't clearly show that it can translate to leads and lead conversion, you'll end up wasting each other's time. Instead, take the time to ask your audience about their specific needs and preferences. Understand their goals, decision models, and pain points so you can tailor your design to impact them significantly. Don't forget to use the scale and format that your audience can appreciate and find relevant.
Using web-based data allows teamwork to make the dream work. Seriously! Relying on web-hosted data will empower your team to access the data wherever it may be located. This can also get you as close as possible to real-time information, enabling you to make better decisions and increasing your speed-to-market response.
Finding the Right Reporting and Dashboards Tool
Looking at big data can already be overwhelming even without the mind-boggling challenges of managing it. Your ability to view data you can action can't be emphasized enough. Choosing the correct reporting and dashboards tool will dictate how your business will survive in an increasingly data-driven century.
Hubspot, a powerful dashboard and reporting software tool, can give your team access to all the analytics they will ever need. Yes, excellence never comes cheap at the start (if it does, check the fine print!) Still, in the long run, it can be more cost-effective.
Getting You Started with the 60%-Off Deal
The thing is, we don't want you to wait any longer than you should. We want you to discover how the best reporting tool can get you the results you're looking for ASAP. And we've found a way for you to save 60% off your first year!
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