(This is a business case study. It will be used to guide discussions during the session: “What’s on your dashboard?” at the Vendo Partner Conference in Barcelona on Thursday, September 7th.)

Alison looked out her window from the top of the Armory in San Francisco. It was foggy. That was ok with her. She wasn’t looking for anything in particular this morning. She’d given up searching the day before. She had planned on doing interviews this morning but…there weren’t any candidates. So she was just taking in the limited view and reflecting.

San Francisco spread out in all directions from the Armory’s Mission neighborhood. The Armory is a massive building. From the height of her office she could (usually) see a large part of the city. Most of the major companies of the internet age were nearby. Twitter was just a 15 minute walk. Facebook, Google and Apple were only 30 minutes away by car.

Those companies were the reason she had come up dry. She was looking for a data analyst to build dashboards for her company. Good luck finding one in San Francisco in 2017. She was going to have to find another way.

She thought back on her history of working with dashboards. At first there was google analytics and some expensive enterprise tool. Two separate dashboards. Not ideal.

Next she married both data sources into Tableau. Another swing, another miss. It was too complex for the end user and the data was too opaque.

At the same time that she was considering her next move she was also beginning a ground up rewrite of her entire platform. The problems began to multiply as soon as she started the transition from Tableau. She created ad hoc report after ad hoc report. It wasn’t sustainable. Each time she dove into the needs of each different user. What does Marketing need to know? The CEO? The content people?

Her new solution is a tool called Google Data Studio. She uses it to pull from a lot of different data sources like spreadsheets, analytics and even her own databases. She can now easily customize dashboards for each individual power user. What a relief!

“It was a total fluke that I came across this but it f**king works. We are now getting out of the grey area of ad hoc reports. Finally, we’ve got a useful flow of information so people can get answers to their questions and take decisions. It was a great find. When you are left to your own devices you have to figure stuff out for yourselves,” said Alison.

She likes to think that she kind of got what she wanted from that data analyst in the end. Sure he works for another company but the products he’s working on are giving her simple, flexible dashboards. The job’s getting done.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What’s on your dashboard?
  2. What challenges do you face?
  3. Which analytical tools and approaches are you using?