Dashboards Are Useless

Except for this one thing…

Jacques-A. Gerber
5 min readSep 13, 2021


Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash

Data being the new oil, it’s been refined and distributed into Key Performance Indicators and Objectives and Key Results and served at your nearest desk station as flashy dashboards after going through pipelines of fiber optics, number crunchers, and almighty artificial intelligence. Most of it is useless and a massive waste of time and energy.

From smartwatches reporting on your daily steps to CRM systems reminding your sales force how many more deals they have to close this quarter, not to forget your latest Covid-19 dashboard, most data reporting is about measuring performance. This is all nice and sexy, but who cares? Surely, after a few months of measuring your walking habits, your smartwatch might have helped you be more active, but now what? CRM reports might help newbies learn their craft, but show me a senior salesperson who does not think it’s taking their time off a deal they could be closing instead. And please don’t let me get into Covid-19 dashboards…

The point here is that such reports are only helpful for a limited time during your learning curve. Once you get it, they’re useless. We’ll get back to that.

Not all dashboards and other data reports are designed only for measuring performance. They may also be designed for detecting trends and making predictions. That’s great; only it does not work. Monitoring stock market indices won’t show you when to sell. Looking at the latest Covid infection wave won’t tell you if it’s reaching its climax nor if another one is coming. There are some exceptions, like weather forecasts, but only within a short period, if you have lots of data with lots of history, a robust scientific model, and powerful computers. In short, you can only predict what you already know very well. And even then, life can be full of surprises. Just ask any mountaineers or sailors about how local weather developments can defy technology…

Here again, these reports are only helpful to refine existing models. Once your model is solid, they’re useless.

Last but certainly not least, data sensors and monitors can be designed and deployed specifically to analyze something you do not yet understand. You know the ancestral saying, “Know thy enemy.” When fighting a new battle, whether trying to get…