Podcast: Enough with the dashboards!...with Bryan Smith of Ipsos

We talk with Bryan Smith of Ipsos Global about how some dashboards don't fit with market research data, as well as how to better understand client wants and needs when it comes to speed to insights and innovations.

Bryan Smith, the BHT Data Solutions Director for Ipsos Global, joins us on Now that's Significant to discuss what market researchers want - and he says it is NOT more dashboards. Bryan is responsible for aligning technology developments with service line needs as they relate to the flow of data. Bryan ensures that stories, features, and capabilities developed by their tech team meet end users' needs. During our discussion, he dives into what insights teams really need when it comes to market research data. He shares a bit about how he got into the field, and his realization that efficiency is critical to market research - a fact which, in turn, leaves room for innovation. 

Bryan argues that they researchers don't actually need dashboards and they often aren't the right fit for the field. Dashboards make a lot of sense for sharing data when there are just a few KPIs to meet, specific views of data needed and a common context, but that’s not always the case for market research. He says we often run into two scenarios: 

  • A standardized dashboard that is quick to deliver but lacks depth and context; or
  • A bespoke dashboard that has a very lengthy set-up time to properly implement and display the context. 

These custom dashboards don't "stick" and usage rarely comes to fruition, because stakeholders have found other ways to get the data. Bryan says these can be a waste of client budget spend, and cause more friction in the process by slowing down other deliverables and making the entire research program even lower value. While the idea makes sense, it doesn't always work as desired in the real world.  

He finds that many dashboards are “static” in structure, similar to PPT reports and data tables. After the visualizations are built and layouts are defined, changing the content within that dashboard for a new need can be time-consuming and costly. Swapping specific metrics or visualizations in a page is easy, but often there is context with that new data that impacts functionality (different filtering or additional context to layer in).

If it does meet a precise need, then a dashboard can be a benefit. The real challenge is understanding needs properly, and focusing on data access to meet that need. What are the end users going to do with the data? We have to find out what they want, and then dig in deeper to uncover what they actually need. Often the need is really around faster access to data, and when focusing on that you can look at using the right solution instead of force-fitting something in. When the solution is needs-driven, clients net out with faster deliveries and lower costs – which are two key outcomes that need to be met. Bryan says we should have strategies in place to help clients find the best solutions to their needs and help them be successful.  

He talks a bit about resistance to change in the industry and that, in order for people to start doing things differently, they need to actually want that change to happen. This is where the push back usually comes in when it comes to adopting new ways of doing things, such as moving away from things like tables into platforms that can more easily allow stakeholders to dig into the data. There is a critical need to put the data into the hands of the people who need it, and Bryan sees one possibility being an analytical platform or tool that is utilized for visualizing data rather than a static dashboard or report. 

Bryan and Geoff dive in a little further into how innovations, and yes sometimes dashboards, are often a way to give people access to consumer data. When this is working well, organizations can make decisions in much shorter time frames, which is paradigm-breaking for most who haven't embraced modern processes and technologies. Ultimately, we need to understand clients needs and use our experience and expertise to meet those needs. 

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