I believe there is no better way to make your (analyst) voice heard than making data available for everyone at your company. I’m of course talking about KPI metrics and not about data vomits. The best way to show data for everyone is to use screens at your office. You can even use old and cheap computer as long as there is internet connection. Haven’t got screens? Well, the first step is to convince why you need one and there you go. You can start from small monitor and when your boss makes a comment “I wish the numbers would be bigger” and then you just scream “show me the moneyyyyyy!”.
I use to ask our (not so cheap) developers to code all kinds of cool dashboards for us. They surely know how to do anything I asked for, but eventually it didn’t make any sense, because they have more important coding to do and it was frustrating to ask changes when I knew that they have so much other things to do. I noticed that our IT-department is also using many kinds of monitoring/dashboard services and asked are there any good tools which I could try to use and make my own dashboards with Adobe Analytics data. They named few tools as Geckoboard, Ducksboard (recently acquired by New Relic, Inc), Klipfolio and also did some google searches around the topic. I found one good article (which I can’t find anymore :() about business dashboards and it declared Klipfolio as a winner.
That’s why I investigated first Klipfolio and noticed that they have direct (api) connection to Adobe Analytics which was positive surprise, and I was pretty much convinced that point and since Klipfolio offered 14 day free trial period I started to test it. Instantly loved the tool, so many integrations and features. Of course the main thing for me was the API connection to Adobe Analytics. How difficult would that be!? Well, mainly I had to learn about the API connection from Adobe’s help section and after succesfully learned to pull different data with Adobe’s API explorer then it was time to try the connection with Klipfolio. I wasn’t succesful in the first test and after contacting to Klipfolio’s support we realized that Klipfolio only supported Adobe’s 1.3 version of the API and that’s why I had to make a bit different settings to the connection and after that it was a success. And yes, the api connection is very simple to do, at least for few basic event metrics. I also gave feedback about the API version and it took only few weeks when Klipfolio announced they support Adobe’s newest 1.4 API version too.
Klipfolio is also very cheap, only 20$ for one user per month and the price per user is lower if you buy license for more users. How could this wonderful tool be so cheap? Well, they surely have lots add-ons that are billed separetely. And the only problem (that pretty much every one was talking about) was the lack of public dashboards, so no wonder why the basic license was so cheap. I was lucky again, and only few weeks after I started to use Klipfolio they published add-on for public links and this way I could easily share my cool dashboards to business owners and show those on screens at our office. You get 3 links to publish dashboards for 90$, so now you get the idea why the basic user account is so cheap. Anyway, I totally get the business model and the tool is so great that I understand the pricing model and to me it still sounds a cheap or at least a fair deal!
One of the most important feature nowadays for any tool is the customer support you get. Especially when you have million other things to do and that’s why you don’t have to time study every detail yourself, though, Klipfolio has also great and wide help sections. When contacting to Klipfolio support you get every time detailed answers and not just “yes”, “no” and “here is the link” answers. I’m sure they have learned that if you users won’t get dashboards up and running they will conclude the license very quickly. Klipfolio has also “ninja service” which means they can give all the help you need and basically build the dashboards for you based on your ideas. So don’t use any excuses that you don’t know how to do it, you can get started with ninjas! But even the basic support is absolutely great too.
Btw, I don’t know does Klipfolio have any restrictions for the amount of data you can pull and play around, so not sure is it good for “big data”, but again you can test with 14 day trial what can you do with it and what is not possible.
I want to share few tips I have learned when building these dashboards:
- Start with small amount of data, maybe just use the most important metric to your website and you get started with good confidence.
- Computer you use with screens can be old one, but forget windows and use linux. I’m sure somebody from IT can do the installation. With windows, no matter what kind of settings I did for monitor and windows updates, every night the monitor was “crashed” for different reasons, but for linux we haven’t got any problems and dashboards are running smoothly all the time.
- Another technical tip, I have had most luck with Google’s Chrome browser. Even with Firefox I have had difficulties and Chrome has also easy setup for full screen.
- Use real time data on your dashboards (max 1 hour update delay) if possible. If you show only data from last X weeks, well, that’s old news. I believe dashboard’s job is to give answers instantly about the situation right now. It is of course good to show older data for comparison purpose but the real time data has to be there also or othwerwise your dashboards are old news and who wants to see only “news” from last week?
- Addition to real time time data, make data alive and fun. If your dashboards are too static, those are soon like wallpaper at the office. Every time data is updated make it flash or something, every time KPI metric is updated (e.g. new order from ecommerce site) make some cool interaction (dollar signs or fireworks) on the screen.
- Follow-up and do some random checks for your screens that everything is ok.
Adobe Analytics has also real time reporting but it is great just for AA users. You just have the same template format that isn’t so great to show numbers on the office screens. I’m sure you know what I mean if you have ever tested yourself. You would also have problems with logging out all the time.
To me Klipfolio is amazing. Please share if you can recommend other tools or have any other comments about business dashboards or anything related to my post.
Klipfolio has just changed their pricing model, see in here http://www.klipfolio.com/pricing and now I love the tool even more! I like the idea that license is based on the amount of dashboards and not amount of users, and also you get much more with cheaper price (e.g. more private links). Great!
I also got a tip for good business dashboard called Datapine and you should check that too. It’s much expensive, but have heard comments that it is easy to use. Well, nowadays there are so many dashboard tools available that you can just do a google search by “business dashboard” and you will find hundreds of those… but my love goes to Klipfolio anyway! 😉