Focused on slaying alligators rather than draining swamps, companies large and small are migrating toward SaaS (software as a service) enterprises. Businesses want to focus human capital resources (executive to working level) on fulfilling missions rather than maintaining expensive centralized on-site computing hardware, software, voluminous data and security responsibilities. Value is in performance and productivity, not cost. Cloud computing gives companies the latest software and data analyses on demand through measured services with flexibility in metrics. Dashboards allow businesses to take data management a leap further, and entrepreneurs and companies are embracing this new technology.
One for Many
In a world where time and information are money, SaaS companies are serving every industry, including finance, real estate, manufacturing, storage, distribution, medicine, science, the arts and human talent.
Companies are turning to cloud computing and data gathering to gather insights about their own internal workings and using that data to provide data driven customized training to their employees with huge increases in productivity and efficiency.
These companies specialize in offering levels of connectivity, standardization and real-time transparency through customizable data dashboards that track and display metrics tailored to specific users. Best of all, companies have invested heavily in ensuring systems are user-friendly, even for novices. Tour various SaaS dashboard offerings, and prominent website promises of simplicity abound: design your own, drag and drop, point and click, user-friendly charts, graphics, messaging, seamless interface and what-if visualizations. Key points are easy access to living data and sophisticated tools to use it in achieving business objectives.
Levels and Levels
Much of the dashboard’s utility is recognition that data must serve many masters in many ways, but boundaries remain necessary. In his article “3 Dashboards Every SaaS Company Should Maintain,” Intronis CEO Rick Faulk suggests three functional levels: a financial dashboard, one for management and one specifically for the board of directors. Each dashboard’s metrics display would be tailored to user-appropriate levels, allowing current data sharing yet protecting sensitive information. The three levels correspond with operational, tactical and strategic viewpoints and apply to small and large businesses alike.
Executive View. Dashboard tools offer executives quickly digestible pictures of an organization’s cash flow, customer count and churn, and other selected statistics. Analytic summaries include the vital ability to drill down, parse levels of data, cross-analyze disparate data sources and visualize analyses in correlative graphics. Such a dashboard can provide centralized overviews of marketing expenditures for the past x days, for example, or plot high-level expenses versus yield for the past 18 months. Any anomalies or dips can be explored to pinpoint specific causes and afford timely resolution. Strategic and operational views allow executives and investors to monitor company performance at a glance in terms of high-level metrics.
Employee View. At working level, many companies are finding that dashboard use builds organization cohesiveness and mission clarity. Listen to employee dashboard users, and striking are issues of responsiveness, connectivity and organizational awareness. The dashboard is a constant reminder of mission objectives, interim progress, and personal and professional accountability. Individuals can track how they are fulfilling team expectations. Teams can monitor their own progress against that of others. With open communication, fewer efforts are duplicative or off-track, and everyone has access to pertinent scheduling milestones, as well as necessary data.
With cloud-based dashboards, businesses enjoy the benefit of access from any device, no longer tied to on-site-only data access. Telecommuting without issues of discontinuity becomes possible. Teams or individuals can deploy off-site and maintain ready access to live data and data management tools through laptops, tablets, smart phones or other personal devices. If clients or collaborative partners raise prospective questions, data, analytical tools and answers are at hand.
Uses for dashboards are endless. Why is one team more productive than another? Why is a large facility trailing a much smaller one in profit yield? What are projected expenses for expansion, and how will that impact company resources? How many customers has a company gained? Where did it gain them? What was cost per customer?
As in any industry, those companies who consistently offer the best products to the most businesses will survive and grow. As more companies and even government entities rely on SaaS companies and incorporate dashboards into their corporate culture, dashboards will become the standard, attracting greater investment and talent. SaaS company dashboard data management tools represent opportunity for tremendous powerhouses to develop and may, due to their decentralized nature, reduce significant data breach risk. External hackers, phishers and even employees within an organization remain threats, but for most organizations, benefits far outweigh risks.
Sophisticated customized data management tools have much to offer: convenient visualization of tailored analyses from disparate sources to answer important questions about what path a business must take. Dashboards are moving the business world further toward that ideal of one-stop, all-encompassing data management for decision-making, from the highest, strategic levels to sales representatives on the street. Secure data collection, manipulation and management will forever drive the information technology industry.