Business intelligence dashboards have been around since the eighties but the jury is still out as to whether these "intelligence" tools are effective at delivering better results. Over the past few years, enterprise managers have adopted marketing and sales dashboards as a way of measuring performance of their marketing and sales teams. Most popular preconfigured models provide a screen full of graphs, tables, and other visual aids which depict real-time outputs. However, out-of-the-box products don't often provide data in a manner that optimizes performance.
Interactivity is not typically an issue: users can modify interfaces and drill down KPIs but displaying ROI, cost per lead, or conversion metrics provides only outcomes from marketing and sales activities. Granularity is also not usually an issue; many popular dashboards provide an adequate amount of detail within their displays, and some allow sharper focus. The weakness of most M&S dashboards is how poorly they impact productivity.
Dashboard interfaces can be confusing. Within most dashboards are multiple data points, often pulled from multiple systems. Although most data points displayed in preconfigured dashboards may be useful in discovering SWOT, managers must manually apply the data to direct their teams. There is little actionable data provided through most dashboard default settings. While data discovery and root-cause analysis are important functions of a marketing and sales dashboard, the fact is that the purpose of providing detailed metrics is to improve performance and there are few options in the marketplace that go beyond simply illustrating changes from last period or sales trend lines.
While critical data points may be aggregated into one interface, the data is disseminated through a catch-all display rather than through prioritized distribution. Dashboard users have few options for prioritizing the data. To be effective at reducing sales cycles, improving conversion metrics, and lowering cost per lead, an M&S dashboard should prioritize data according to each metric's relative importance to operations. If developers took the same approach as, say, a news publisher, the screen would reflect a hierarchy of information. This would allow users to focus on data that is either most actionable ("low hanging fruit") or most important to enterprise success (read: sales conversions).
Metrics displayed on the interface are not tied to goals. Most M&S dashboards provide no goal-oriented information; while an M&S dashboard may display a plethora of accumulated data, the display is typically void of any targets. For example, a dashboard display may indicate campaign costs vs. revenue but, to direct team members, this information should be presented against objectives and goals in order to more efficiently evaluate success or failure.
The good news is that your enterprise can have an M&S dashboard that fills these voids. Tools like our Synaxis Macroscope™ provide robust configuration capabilities to suit your specific needs. Here are a few steps to create the most effective dashboard:
1. Include metrics that measure marketing and sales impacts, efficiency, and value. Select outcomes instead of outputs, such as customer acquisition and retention or product margins.
2. Link data chains that contribute to programs, strategies, and objectives. Connecting your M&S dashboard with a marketing automation platform or CRM can provide actionable data that connects campaigns, objectives, and results.
3. Design a validation process to ensure viability between metrics and activities. The dashboard should effectively reveal whether KPIs relate to department functions.
4. Embed a goal structure within the interface. Use a single interface to track performance against stated goals for the period.
In the end your marketing and sales dashboard should not only track results but provide a roadmap for future marketing and sales efforts.