The claim for most CEO dashboards is that they provide  a complete view of enterprise performance and reliable, real-time information.

Yet, if you’ve ever taken the time to read about building the perfect CEO dashboard, you might remember time-consuming tips and tricks explaining which metrics to include in the data monitored by the dashboard, and how that data should be presented. This first step – the selection of which metrics to include – is the fatal flaw of CEO dashboards, because it’s the first opportunity for those who rely on them to miss  critical information.

Fatal Flaw #1 CEO dashboards lack intelligent correlation

Looking for new business insights and intelligence, and choosing which metrics to include is more art than science.  No one knows the answers to questions that haven’t been asked yet. An important actionable insight can be present in any metric, and why they should all be monitored. More importantly, insights are often only found through correlation of various metrics.

One of the keys to making data actionable in any organization is being able to see the whole picture. CEO dashboards often fail to provide all of the necessary information you need to make informed decisions.  These missing links of data can delay a decision, or lead to misinformed decisions, which can be detrimental to your organization. Even if all necessary information is being gathered, it can’t present a coherent picture.  With CEO dashboards, you’re forced to guess what’s important enough to be given the limited real estate on the dashboard. Correlating and acting on this data takes time and manpower, and for larger organizations with a lot of business activity this can add up significant amounts of time before actionable data is consolidated and, if possible, rendered usable.

Fatal Flaw #2 Only shows how actual performance meets business goals, but not why

CEO dashboards can only indicate how well your company’s actual performance meets your business goals, but can’t show why. If you are lucky enough to benefit from a string of beneficial business events outside your control (social media buzz causes a spike in orders, a competitor suffers a brand-damaging PR mistake, etc.), you won’t ever know that, and more importantly, might get caught unable to respond when that spike hits. Without granular real-time metrics, you won’t connect the cause to the jump in orders. Actionable insight of what caused the spike in orders would allow you to organize enough inventory to respond to the demand, and try to further leverage the buzz for more growth.

Fatal Flaw #3 Wasting time driving down the wrong road

A CEO dashboard, however, won’t indicate social media buzz until all the hype has died down, if it shows at all. Harvard Business Review  explained that “…dashboards are poor at providing the nuance and context that effective data-driven decision making demands.”  When the bump is over and the top-level KPIs settle back down to normal, you may be identifying a problem to explain the decrease, instead of searching for to leverage the increase – now a lost opportunity. This results in lots of wasted time looking for the wrong root cause, clouding decision-making and leaving your company vulnerable to a competitor’s agile maneuvering. There’s a real cost to relying on dashboards to untangle the correct causation behind a discovered incident. It can even lead to mistaken conclusions, like how a GPS upgrade increased car accidents when it actually significantly decreased them.

Fatal Flaw #4 CEO Dashboards don’t provide intelligent prioritization

Collecting thousands of events or alerts every minute from your applications and infrastructure, and presenting that data in a dashboard isn’t analytics. The dashboard may look sexy and have beautiful widgets. Users apply filters on this data, performing their own analysis and work. Deriving intelligence from data shouldn’t require an end user to define what to look for, or where, or what are the most critical KPIs, or what normal or abnormal is. This is not intelligence because a user is telling the dashboard exactly what data to show.

Fatal Flaw #5 Relevance – interpreting a dashboard a thousand ways

CEO Dashboards fail to properly incorporate all of the relevant data sources necessary to make a truly informed, real-time decision, and critical information may not be displayed quickly or effectively enough to act upon.  A single data signal can be both a strong insight for one person and just more noise for another. There’s a level of subjectivity when it comes to the relevance of data. In order to be relevant, data needs to be delivered with the right context, correlation and association. If data isn’t packaged well for decision makers then it will not be acted on. If insights are trapped in a dashboard tool that managers are too overwhelmed to access or the data is delivered too infrequently to use, then the insights may never be found. In business, leaving data up to interpretation can be risky and costly.

CEO dashboards belong in the rear-view mirror

Business strategy is only effective if you possess the appropriate intelligence and agility to outmaneuver your competition. Dashboards aren’t going to provide insight fast enough when hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost per hour due to a pricing glitch on an ecommerce site, no matter what color scheme, chart type or font is used. Businesses need real time insights

This is why CEOs should abandon these dashboards, and turn to an AI analytics platforms to find all the opportunities in your data.

Written by Ira Cohen

Ira Cohen is not only a co-founder but Anodot's chief data scientist, and has developed the company's patented real-time multivariate anomaly detection algorithms that oversee millions of time series signals. He holds a PhD in machine learning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has more than 12 years of industry experience.

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