3 Things To Know About Conversations Replacing Dashboards

How big data could improve your operational decisions


Every online business has to use analytics software to succeed. No matter which plugins you install or what content you post, your site will eventually need to track analytics, user behavior, and search patterns to target consumers and so increase growth and business revenue. However, to process this kind of data collection, businesses need to use dashboards that gather all the information and present it in a series of windows all located in one spot.

The issue then becomes one of comprehension. There’s a lot of data. The dashboard is often cluttered. How do you know what information is important? What trends should you track? Many experts devote their careers to working with dashboards and data to aid businesses, but imagine instead a conversational dashboard.

Rather than parsing through data columns, you could ask the dashboard a question, in plain English, about the data, such as 'were there any unusual spikes of user activity in the past 24 hours?' The dashboard would then reply with the answer in plain English too. With such a system, you wouldn’t need to search for data; it would be brought to you in as simple a form as possible: the language you’ve been speaking since you were a child.

Is such a system possible? What are its benefits? Here are three things you should know about how conversations are replacing dashboards.

1. The technology is almost here

Can we augment dashboards with conversational interfaces? Not yet, but the day is coming. At Microsoft’s 2016 Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke about the development of chatbot technology and noted, 'everyone today who is building applications whether they be mobile apps or desktop apps or websites will build bots as the new interface, where you have a human dialogue interface versus menus of the past.' Combining natural language processors with machine learning, chatbots are ushering in a new wave of computing technology that can actually parse the English language and understand what users type to them. In the next few years, chatbots will be developed enough to work successfully in the context of a business dashboard.

2. Conversational dashboards require no learning curve

Businesses hate training. It’s a simple truth, and one that has been getting truer year by year. The Washington Post uncovered studies that revealed employees received two weeks of on-site job training in the 1970s, but today only one in five employees receive any training at all. As a result, many positions go unfilled at companies around the world because they don’t want to sink time or resources into training new employees. Conversational dashboards would remove the learning curve of understanding the many different tabs and layouts of different technology platforms. Instead, experts and new hires alike could get straight to the heart of the matter and ask the questions they want answers to instead of having to have the training to track down those answers themselves.

3. No information would fall through the cracks

The understandable fear of conversational dashboards is that experts and data scientists will ask direct questions to the conversational interface, but they won’t look at the data itself, creating the possibility that they will miss recognizing important patterns. The important thing to remember is that the conversational interface is meant to simplify the process and augment the dashboard—it doesn’t mean that you can’t look at the data sets anymore. Users can look at the data and then ask the interface questions about it or solve them as they choose. Plus, one potential benefit of these conversational platforms is that they can message users directly when they detect any anomalies or trends in the data, perhaps catching something a person may miss.

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