Importance of Dashboards and why they suck

Business Dashboards

There isn’t a single significant business application that does not share insights via dashboards.

Dashboards are a window into the operations and performance of a business. They save time by bringing collective business intelligence to one place and are crucial in making informed decisions, aligning strategies, visualizing metrics, achieving goals, and surfacing anomalies and trends.

Dashboards are exploratory and frame information well, and the critical ability to visualize, query, and explore are drivers of understanding and answering questions.

As Mike Bostock, creator of D3JS, and Founder of Observable said at the CSV conference, “Interactive exploration and visualization is the best way to quickly answer questions and nurture understanding.” – @mbostok


The critical ability of Dashboards to explore and discover  for insights and get answers to queries in textual and visual format, drives innovation.


Why Dashboards Suck

Businesses struggle with the usage of Dashboards as they rarely engage or retain audiences.

As Keith Rabois, former Square COO, and Venture Capitalist said, “The key metric of whether you have succeeded is: what fraction of your employees use that dashboard every day.


Our dashboards do not engage and retain business users for several reasons.

  • Navigating dashboards is time-consuming.
    • They are not guided and require users to pull information manually. Insight discovery in dashboards is entirely accidental.
  • We tend to design dashboards poorly and do not keep them up-to-date.
    • Showing too many tabs, each with number of charts and metrics overwhelms users, making insight discovery cumbersome.
    • We create too many charts and monitor too many metrics, which leads to information overload, analysis paralysis, and general disengagement.
  • Detailed quantitative charts are perfect for driving accountability and we focus on they solely. They are far less useful than qualitative metrics for the big picture.
  • We tend not to match the audience with the chart types we select for our dashboards.
    • Complex visualizations work for experts and in certain situations, but more straightforward charts are much more useful for garnering casual insights.
  • We insist on using line charts and bar charts interchangeably regardless of whether the data is continuous or a frequency distribution.
  • Even well-designed dashboards fail to engage users, and cannot incentivize them to come back.
  • Dashboards also are under-utilized as business teams use them for insights when making unfamiliar decisions, but, rely solely on instincts and intuition when making a large number of ad-hoc decisions.

Dashboards aren’t always practical for making insights available to decision-makers for several reasons. Static reports and AMP for email are push-capable options, but they are not self-playing or guided. InsightStory is solving all these problems with a push/pull experience that can be watched like a video and also explored and queried – simultaneously.