Tag: tools

Stop Mistaking Reporting, Data Mining & Dashboarding Tools

October 4th, 2013 — 10:30am

reporting vs data mining vs dashboarding tools

When we started DashThis three years ago, we wanted to build a dashboarding tool. Because that’s what users kept telling us about. It would great if they had a simple dashboard software that would connect to Google Analytics easily, so they could have nice business dashboards.

That’s what we did. Even our name comes from the word “dashboard tools“.

But the first comments were sending the wrong signal: Can we change dates? Can we do drilldown? Can we list the entire keywords list? Can we do this and that?

- Ho. I see. You don’t need a dashboard tool. You need a reporting tool!
- Excuse me? No, I want to give my clients a custom Google Analytics dashboard!

We learned to deal with the dashboard vs report confusion and built a tool they want. But we still fight some feature requests as we believe there are three distinct analytics area. They each need a specialized set of tools. Mixing them and trying to fit them in an all-in-one tool is a mistake in our opinion.

Here are the three types of analytics tools:

The dashboarding tools: A dashboard gives you the snapshot of the actual performance. It shows what’s happening right now. Like your car’s dashboard. You need to know what are the actual metrics to drive, not the past performance or the future predictions. We also believe a dashboard is not the place to add insights and comments.

The datamining / BI / Big Data tools: This is the toy for the hard core analyst. It’s used to discover trends, confirm strategies or track performance in its finest details. The tool needs to be powerful to let you slice and dice data at will. You don’t do this in a dashboard nor do you give this tool to your boss or client.

The reporting tools: The reporting tool is to create, well you know, reports! A report, unlike a dashboard, will give you a historical and contextual view. Past month’s performance, last 7 days, 5 year trend, etc. You don’t use a report as a dashboard nor do you use a report to drill down. The report is the piece of paper you give your boss or client so they can make decisions. The report is the place to add insights and all your expert valuable comments.

The reporting tool: This is where DashThis fits in. Not in the datamining game. Not in the dashboarding game either. We do reports and we are pretty good at it!

But hey, we love you even if you keep saying dashboard instead of report. And we’ll still keep marketing the word dashboard because that’s what our users are searching for even though they want reports at the end :)

Stéphane has been working on business Web projects for more than 15 years. He has a computer science degree and a MBA specialized in e-commerce from Laval University in Quebec City. That also explains why his writing can sound weird: He is a French Canadian!

View his LinkedIn profile or email Stephane: stephane@dashthis.com

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