Big data isn’t just for big business. Small to medium sized businesses (SMB), like franchises and C-stores, can also use and analyze data more successfully to solve problems and make business decisions––if they have access to the right information management tool, like a dashboard.
Dashboards are becoming increasingly important for SMBs because they can significantly reduce the time and effort to compile reports and manage spreadsheets. For brands with multiple locations, dashboards can provide insight into what’s happening across the entire franchise and answer pertinent questions faster and more efficiently. And dashboards can support operational, strategic and analytical needs. For example, the executive team might want to compare performance and profitability by region, whereas the merchandising team may want a deeper view into top selling products by demographic. While dashboards can be custom built using off-the-shelf software, many are available in conjunction with specific services, like supply chain management solutions. At the Western Petroleum Marketers Association (WPMA) annual event in Las Vegas in February, numerous service providers promoted dashboards for a variety of applications, from monitoring tanker fleets and supply chains to conducting real-time analysis of gas prices and profits for better fuel management.
Yet not all dashboards are created equal when it comes to features, capabilities and presenting data. If you’re a franchisor assessing a service and the value of its dashboard, look for these four features:
Real-time views––Having access to data in real time is essential for making informed and confident decisions. Even if data is only a few hours old, it may be too late to assess the true situation and act accordingly.
Visual indicators––Dashboards are most powerful when they consolidate data from a range of disparate sources and serve it up in an easily digestible format, such as charts, graphs, icons or color-coded indicators that enable a user to garner insights quickly.
Rapid drill down capabilities––Being able to determine status at a glance is useful, but having the ability to drill down into details helps foster a more thorough understanding of an issue.
Mobile friendliness and ease of use––Designed to streamline the review of large amounts of data, dashboards are best when they can be accessed across a variety of settings and by a range of different employees. A well-built dashboard may even accelerate the speed and quality of decision-making.
For Hughes managed network services customers, the HughesON™ Portal dashboard offers complete visibility into their networks. With a graphical dashboard interface, customers can easily see the network status for all locations, including updates for equipment installs, trouble tickets and invoicing. They can review performance indicators, like network availability, backup 4G data usage, or traffic details, and open trouble tickets based on artificial intelligence (AI) as well as submit billing questions or tech service requests. Even customers who rely on Hughes to handle everything related to their networks appreciate being able to see what’s happening across the enterprise and at every site.
Regardless of the type of service being delivered, a well-designed dashboard provides the type of information franchise owners and operators need to ensure consistency, efficiency and profitability across the business.