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Audi TT dashboard

When is a Dashboard not just a Dashboard?

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Category : Blogs

As I’m sure most people can guess from what I do for a living, I’m a bit of a tech geek. I love it. Can’t get enough of it. I love my Microsoft band, my 2-in-1 laptop/tablet, my iPad, my iPhone, my Microsoft phone…. Well, you get the idea.

As with all tech geeks, I get a reasonable amount of tech envy too. One of the guys at our partner company, TH_NK, has a Microsoft surface – so I want one. My step son will be getting a brand new phone at the end of his contract – so I want one, too. Why is this insight into my life important? I’m sure you’re asking yourself that right now.
Are we moving towards digital cars?
Well, my partner recently bought a new car. So now I want one, too. So I did what all geeks do; I started researching…

The new Nissan pulsar is huge. It fits a family of four, easily, and is packed with safety tech. From its 360 degree parking cameras, to its lane detection and blind spot monitors – you might think it has it all. It’s functional and (most importantly) it gives me my tech fix.

But then, I found it. The new Audi A4. Not only is it slick and hugely economical – it also has “it”.

Where most cars have a dashboard, the Audi A4 has a 12-inch, TFT screen that can do it all. And then some. If you want the simple gauges found on every other dashboard; you’re covered. Want a map and dials on top, to boot? You got it. Need your media or Bluetooth call details too? It’s all there. All in your dashboard. The same tech can be found in a Lamborghini. It’s amazing.

After my initial ‘geek-gasm’ at this wonderful technology, the ‘multichannel director’ in me kicked into overdrive. Here we have the archetypal dashboard; that which gave all ‘dashboards’ their name. But this tech has advanced to the point at which it is no longer a dashboard as we know it.
Dashboards and Beyond…
In the old days, dashboards were fixed. They gave you the few KPI’s that could be measured and displayed with the tech that was available. The same in cars, was true in business.

A typical digital dashboard would include everything that can be easily defined: your visits, conversions, conversion rate and maybe (depending on the HiPPO you were feeding) a bounce rate, or even conversions by channel.

Great, some questions answered: a simple narrative told by charts. It’s one view of how you are doing all in one place. It’s much the same as the story told by the speedometer, the Rev meter, and maybe the engine temp and oil pressure measure in your car.
What can you do with all this data?
But what can you actually do with that data? What use is that story to you? In your car, it seems pretty simple: you know if you need to slow down, change gear or add some oil. But any decisions beyond those ‘quick fixes’ aren’t helped any with this view.

The same is true with older dashboards in business. They display visits, conversions and bounce rates – now what? What can I really do with this knowledge? Not much.

We now find ourselves in a situation in which the tech that is used to collect and present data is low priced and rapidly evolving. There’s more of it each day. Because of this, people’s ability to understand and interoperate data, and take action off the back of it, has also grown.

We’ve seen the same development in cars. Now it’s not only about going faster or slower.
The questions are more sophisticated:

  • How far do I need to go?
  • Can I shave time from my journey by going a different route and avoiding this queue of traffic?
  • Do I need to listen to this damn Taylor swift song (again) or is there something better in my iPod?
  • Should I answer this phone call or is it a PPI call (again!)?
  • My car feels funny, are my tyres up to pressure? Or are my brakes worn?

All that is now on the dashboard.

In business, cloud-based business intelligence software, like Tableau and Qlikview, has moved the ‘dashboard’ on leaps and bounds. The result is no longer a ‘dashboard’ in any traditional sense – it’s the first step towards getting answers to questions that you haven’t yet even asked. It enables leaders in business to drill into the data, identify issues and opportunities, and make better informed decisions.


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