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How Dashboards are like a Beer Flight

A Comprehensive Taste of Business Data and Analytics

On a recent ‘research trip’ to a local brewery, I started thinking about how business dashboards can be like a beer flight (this is what us data nerds ponder while drinking good beers…). They give you a taste of all aspects of your business. Then, just like following a flight with a full pint of your favorite sampled brew, you can dive deeper into a specific aspect of your business through more detailed, follow-up dashboards.

Allow me to elaborate a bit.

As I’m sure everybody knows, the idea behind a flight is to allow you to taste a variety of beers, discern their nuances, and decide on which beer you would like to explore more thoroughly – typically as a full pint. It’s a great way to quickly get a great understanding of a brewery’s offerings.

So how do beer flights correlate to business dashboards?

A dashboard, like a beer flight, can be a collection of data from different aspects of the business. It may include financial metrics, production data, sales performance, customer engagement, and so forth. By looking at these elements together on a dashboard, you can quickly get a broad sense of your business's health, performance, and potential areas of concern or opportunity.

Just like a beer flight, a dashboard can pique your curiosity about a specific area of the business. Maybe your sales numbers are notably high or low, or a certain product is underperforming. Just as you might order a pint of that intriguing IPA you sampled, you can then dive deeper into that aspect of the business with a more detailed dashboard or report.

Creating a business dashboard that gives you the perfect flight of your business aspects requires a careful selection of what data to include and how to display it. Not every beer will make it into a flight, and not every bit of data should be on the initial high-level dashboard. It is about choosing the data that gives you a broad but meaningful overview of your business performance.

The example below shows brewery data from Sales, Inventory, Operations Activity, and Financial Info. This allows a brewery leader to get a little taste from several important aspects of the business.

Then with today’s sophisticated business intelligence tools like Tableau, follow-up dashboards can be made interactive, allowing you to drill down into specific aspects. This is like moving from the beer flight to a specific pint, and then, perhaps even to a tour of the brewery, where you get to look behind the scenes and gain an intricate and detailed understanding for the brewery.

For instance, if you have a high-level dashboard showing total sales revenue, a drill-down could show revenue by product, region, or salesperson. Further drill-down could reveal data on seasonal trends, individual customer purchases, or other granular information.

Here’s an example of a more detailed dashboard that looks at performance of a specific beer that was highlighted from the overview dashboard. This would provide a ‘deep dive’ into the performance of a particular part of your business.

The beauty of this "beer flight dashboard" approach is that it caters to a wide audience within your organization. Some might be content with just the beer flight, or in this case, a high-level overview of the business. Others might want to order the full pint, delving into the specifics of sales, finances, or customer behaviors.

The key here, as with everything else in business, is balance and alignment with your organizational goals. Having the right data in the right format can empower decision-making, and that's where dashboards shine. A well-curated dashboard allows you to sample all aspects of your business, then dive deep into the areas that matter most.

In the end, both beer flights and dashboards serve the same fundamental purpose – discovery and enjoyment. A beer flight lets you explore different beer styles, while a dashboard allows you to uncover the vast nuances within your data. Both give you a starting point for a deeper exploration, be it the taste of a unique stout or the insights hidden within your business data.

Click to see some additional aspects of modern analytics in a brewery

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