Conquering Dashboard Fatigue
And Why Actions Speak Louder Than Dashboards
People have a love/hate relationship with dashboards. Some say they’re dead (not the case), others can’t live without them. Done right, they can be invaluable, done wrong they can be too time-consuming. One thing is for sure, there are too many dashboards with too much information, and it can be tiring keeping up with all the data.
In this article, the second part of our Action Gap series, we will take a look at several causes of dashboard fatigue, why it’s a major part of the Action Gap problem, and ways to change your relationships with dashboards, so they are healthier and more productive.
In a recent survey zenloop conducted with customer experience professionals about their biggest pain points, 35% complained about spending too much time looking at too many dashboards containing too much information.
This is a primary cause of dashboard fatigue.
What is Dashboard Fatigue?
Every decision-maker and supporting character, from strategic to operational, in all industries and in companies of all sizes, wants a dashboard. Who can blame them? Visualizations are a fantastic way to convey and access information fast, like a hot knife through butter.
The reality is, that what we want from dashboards, and what we get from them, don’t exactly match up.
What we want:
- Just a few dashboards
- A single source of truth
- Information that is highly relevant to team/personal needs and goals
- Information that leads to improvements
- A simple dashboard that is easy to understand
What we get:
- Too many dashboards
- Too much information
- Irrelevant information
- Information that leads to nothing
- Complicated dashboards, hard to understand
The result is a headache and numbness from spending too much time staring at useless dashboards trying to decipher the content. Not only does this overexposure lead to fatigue, dashboards done wrong lead to many other problems – for you personally, and for your business goals.
Why is Dashboard Fatigue a Problem?
With so much reliance on dashboards, by so many people, with so many different needs – often poorly curated dashboards cause more problems than they solve – all contributing to dashboard fatigue.
Time and Effort
The time we spend looking at dashboards and analyzing data is rising – stealing a sizable chunk of the working week. McKinsey says that employees spend almost 8 hours a week on average searching and gathering information. An IDC study reveals that: “data professionals are losing 50% of their time searching, preparing, and governing data, including duplicate work.”
It takes time to build and maintain dashboards, with owners handling multiple requests for multiple dashboards from multiple directions. Not to mention the constant adjustments, bridging of knowledge gaps, and trying to assimilate the right data for the right stakeholders while endeavoring to appease everyone simultaneously.
Passive and Poor Usage
It’s happened to us all. You’re sitting staring at your screen, and you have no idea what you’re looking at and what you should do with the information presented.
Dashboards are valuable if you speak the language, but not everyone does. For all the data analysts and power users who fully or somewhat understand the story a dashboard is trying to tell, there other user groups who derive little-to-no value. Either because of a lack of understanding or the data has no relevance to them.
There can be numerous layers of frustration with dashboards. Firstly, they can be expensive to build or purchase, and laborious to maintain – which can cause resentment or buyer’s remorse if the utility is low.
Then there are the business leaders and stakeholders, who are frustrated that they are not getting what they want from dashboards. In turn, they amplify their frustrations to the data teams or software providers, who may not be able to support their needs or accommodate endless customizability.
This can lead to a please-all mentality for dashboard creators, not fully understanding what different stakeholders want – thus adding extra layers of complexity.
Overcomplicated and Irrelevant Dashboards
Dashboards are built by technical minds, incorporating what they think is valuable to the end-user. Even if there’s a beautiful coat of paint over a simple UI, there can be a zillion filters waiting to derail your user experience, leaving you cross-eyed and unsatisfied.
With these so-called self-service solutions comes another pain point that repeatedly occurs – creating end-user products that are not actionable and displaying information that doesn’t lead to action.
Users simply stop using dashboards when they realize no action can be determined from the displayed data. Those skilled enough to extract some value – but not the insights they need – generally export the information anyway and turn to excel and multiple reports to make conclusions. Replacing one fatigue with another.
Employees also turn to spreadsheets when they don’t trust the quality of data presented to them, with 62% of organizations not confident with their own customer insights data.
Why Dashboards Don’t Tell the Whole Story
Dashboards are great for informing you what you already know and how you got here – but they are not designed for data discovery and to help you make sense of where you want to go next.
A major problem is the inability to make conclusions:
- Why can’t I find what I’m looking for?
- Is the information relevant to me?
- Have I misinterpreted the data?
- Why are the numbers what they are?
- How can I use this data to take action?
Standard dashboards don’t link to actions, So if action steps are not built into the way data is delivered, how can dashboards tell the whole story? This is why users take data from non-narrative dashboards, play with it, and present their own story in a presentation.
Think how better it would be if dashboards went beyond reporting information and told actionable stories instead.
Dashboards Without Action Can’t Solve Customer Needs Alone
We recently surveyed 350 CX professionals across multiple industries and business sizes about the biggest challenges they face when trying to turn customer data into insights.
55% of respondents ranked the following statement as one of their top 3 major challenges:
“Our data is simply archived in dashboards and presentations but we don’t have a way to turn such data into action plans.”
- Ranked #2 by businesses with less than 150 people
- Ranked #1 by corporations with over 10,000 employees
- Ranked #3 by companies with 150 – 1000, and 1000 – 5000 employers respectively
In CX, this problem contributes significantly to the Action Gap, the disconnect between customer thoughts, insights, and actions.
Actionable Dashboards: From CX Insights to Action
Dashboard fatigue and the inability to shift focus towards action is a universal problem, so companies should consider thinking differently about the role of data visualization in the analytic landscape – because right now, dashboards alone can’t solve key business problems.
When it comes to customer insights, we recently asked customer experience professionals to voice their main wishes, with the most popular answer being:
“To have access to a single dashboard that represents a single source of truth for BI data.”
Now imagine looking at fewer dashboards, better curated to your goals and with the proper context to make actionable decisions instead of dozens of dashboards with hundreds of different use cases and the wrong context to guide you further.
Sounds like a possible remedy for dashboard fatigue.