Death of a Dashboard

Dashboards used to be cool in the tech world.  They were gazed upon in quiet reverent awe during product demos. 

Dash chat

There’s a part of the business brain that goes all weak at the knees when we use engineering and instrumentation as the basis for a story.  It’s like having Jeremy Clarkson on one knee and Tom Cruise in the Minority Report on the other.  For some, that’s a pretty cool place to be.  Admittedly for others, many others, it’s awkward in the extreme.

I looked at my Google dashboard this morning and was struck by two things.  Firstly, there’s a lot of it: Analytics, Gmail, Adwords, Maps, Drive, Groups. Photos, Tasks, Books [I don’t even have any Google books?], You Tube, Calendar…etc.  Secondly, it’s formatted like the tiles on a smart phone. 

Our application-led life driven by mobile – or by simplicity itself – has taken precedence over the dashboard dream.  Your phone is your dashboard.  Many apps bring other sources of information into one place for us to graze on.  For big, hairy enterprise environments, the is still the need for a mission control feel here and there, but with the shift to applications and simplicity. We bob in and out of micro-tech from a device, rather than bringing all information into mothership ‘dashboards’.

Google dashboard almost clutters things up.  It’s an extra level of ‘hubness’ that we don’t need. 

There are two trends here. One is our thirst for simplicity, the other is the desire for online brands to keep you within their domain.  One is driven by human need, the other by corporate interest.  Seems like they can be at odds?  That’s always a great place for marketers to consider how we present technologies to customers. 

Where does this get us?

In 2018, Octopus Group has seen a real surge in businesses looking to position ‘Platforms’ in the market.  Simone Cicero has been advocating the importance of platform thinking for some time now.  He has also generously shared his methodologies on how to think like a ‘platform business’, too. 

Platforms are something we will look at in detail with other posts.  Sufficed to say, platform thinking takes some dashboard principles and zooms out to look at the entire organisational ecosystem, bringing information, operations and collaboration into one domain.

Technology marches on at a pace. From the dashboard world of having everything in one place, we can now zoom in and have bits of everything everywhere [app tiles, for example] and zoom out to provide governance or insights over entire ecosystems [platforms]. 

This is not a perfect transition.  Dashboard, apps and platforms all cross-over and mash-up within the technology landscape.  What’s interesting to note is how the speed at which we innovate and the simplicity we seek in a complex world can turn something from novel to mainstream to surplus in a business cycle. 

That’s why, as tech marketers, we must continually challenge our thinking on what constitutes ‘new’ and understand the implications of IT change on human, commercial and environmental levels.  Principles may never change, but portals inevitably will.