Every Leader Needs A Dashboard

Every Leader Needs A Dashboard

Digital dashboards let executives dive deep into the data and make better decisions.

About 10 years ago, researchers at Princeton University rounded up four volunteers and 19 lab rats to determine how information quality affects decision-making.

The survey participants had no trouble processing logical information and using it to make optimal decisions. However, when external “noise” (clicks, in this case) was introduced, survey participants made errors. They didn’t know how to process the additional sensory information and got sidetracked.

Something similar may have happened when rock climbing veteran Lynn Hill neglected to finish tying into her rope while having an engrossing conversation with her belayer. She reached the top of the route unaided, but when she went to rappel down, she quickly discovered the error she had made. A tree saved her life, breaking a 72-foot fall.

As business leaders, we are deeply attuned to what’s happening—within our teams, our organizations, and the external world—yet we have the same shortcomings as lab rats and expert rock climbers. “Noise” can sidetrack us and interfere with our mental processing.

What we need

Consider this: How are you making decisions? What are you paying attention to? What do you ignore? How are you filtering noise?

As humans, we make decisions based on the information we have. We assess risk and reward, and balance emotion and logic. We tap into our own experiences and knowledge.

To make good decisions, we need the right information at the right time in the right context. As a leader, you are steering the organization to achieve its goals. What tools do you use to filter out the influx of “noise”? That’s where dashboards can make a real difference.

The value of C-suite dashboards

Digital transformation is still very much underway across industries—and with digitization comes lots of “noise.” But digitization also brings new technologies that can fundamentally transform decision-making by enabling real-time, customized dashboards for business leaders.

Dashboards act as a centralized hub, gathering the most important data from across the company. They provide an up-to-date pulse check of what’s happening and where, callouts to areas that need immediate attention, and even one-click pathways to see project or functional details needed to course-correct.

Dashboards not only help executive decision-makers; they can also help the business in big ways. A study from MIT found companies that use real-time dashboards are farther along with transformation, deliver a better employee experience, are more successful with innovation, and grow revenue faster than those that don’t.

Dashboard drill-down

Some organizations may build their own dashboards. Others acquire them. Whether a dashboard is built or bought doesn’t matter, though. What matters is that you get what you need out of it.

ServiceNow has built a series of dashboards that have quickly become the lifeblood of our C-suite leaders, because the data is tailored to each specific role and their goals. Our CEO, CIO, CHRO, and general counsel each use their own dashboard, and we’re continuing to build more.

As one example, our CEO uses the ServiceNow CEO Dashboard to see a readout of key metrics across the business. In this sample, he could see the following:

  • We’re averaging nine days to resolve security incidents.
  • We have a 96% hiring target gap.
  • We’ve got 81% SLA attainment within our customer operations.

With this dashboard, a CEO can double-click into each area for details. For instance, most IT organizations are trying to accelerate time to resolution with automation. By clicking into IT, they could see that automated issue resolution has increased 3.5%—a favorable trend.

What if they wanted to learn more? A “Take Action” button displays AI-powered analysis (identifying potential bottlenecks) and a workflow map (via process mining) that shows each step of the business process.

With all this real-time data and insights at their fingertips, a CEO can make more informed decisions when talking to a CIO. This is really the value of a C-suite, or executive, dashboard: It provides multiple levels of data to empower perfect decision-making without all the noise.

The only way to go is up

In her memoir, Lynn Hill talks about another climb, up El Capitan in Yosemite. She writes, “After two days on the wall, we became accustomed to living in a reality where survival required us to concentrate on each move and to evaluate the consequences of every action.”

C-suite leaders lack the time (and, in most cases, the skill) to spend days on a rock wall in the wilderness to hone in on the most critical areas needed for the business to thrive. They often need help to eliminate distractions and random sensory input.

Dashboards enable leaders such as the CHRO and general counsel to spotlight the areas most important to them, digest relevant information, dig deeper to gather details as necessary, and then take immediate action. They can make fast, accurate, impactful impactful decisions for the business—without having to scale mountains.

Learn more about how we’re using dashboards by watching this CEO Dashboard video with our very own CEO, Bill McDermott.

What do you think?

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