In his Joy of Work book, Scott Adams wrote, “PowerPoint slides are like children: No matter how ugly they are, you’ll think they’re beautiful if they are yours.” That seems to still hold true: a recent study shows that PowerPoint is still the dominant data report delivery method for marketers.
Despite their many misgivings about PowerPoint, respondents noted that it allows for written analysis and is their standard format since they’ve always done it that way. Still, more than half of agency clients want to use dashboards.
The report, “Data Delivery and Insights Reporting,” was conducted for Dapresey by Cido Research and Voxco. The 320 respondents—corporate and agency directors and above—noted positive attitudes about dashboards, including the fact that they make distribution easier; provide visual and flexible reporting; enable improved efficiency and turnaround times; and allow for visual/flexible reporting.
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Interestingly, although study participants said that a majority of clients are seeking alternatives to PowerPoint, converting to dashboard or digital delivery has barriers to overcome. These include the fact that many agencies feel dashboards are too expensive or require too much work, seeing them as limiting ad hoc needs, believing they may not allow them to provide insights through written analysis and do not see a need to change to something unknown when stakeholders aren’t asking for them.
So, what are the barriers to adoption, and how can they be overcome?
Too expensive: According to a recent presentation by Lieberman Research, if you break down all costs, online dashboards are nearly 40% less expensive to produce and deliver than PowerPoint. This includes one-third less cost for data management and about one-half the cost for project management analysis and reporting.
Initial training and implementation is required when using an online dashboard platform, which may increase the initial implementation cost. Once up and running it can deliver faster turnaround times, something that study participants acknowledged they wanted. Online dashboards automate tasks and increase quality. If an error is discovered or a weight has to be recalculated, dashboard options can fix it throughout the entire report by replacing the data or formula in seconds, not hours.
Ad hoc needs: While all types of tracking, syndicated and repetitive research (concept tests, for example) are seen as a fit for dashboards, researchers and their clients also use them for ad hoc, path to purchase, customer journey and customer experience management. Typically, reporting can be prepared during fieldwork, which significantly shortens delivery time.
Written analysis: Topline and detailed findings are easily incorporated into online dashboards, and those observations can be hyper-linked to specific findings within the report. For those delivering a comprehensive Word document, study participants were unaware that by simply cutting and pasting the findings from online dashboards, they could quickly and efficiently achieve the written analysis that they sought. With dynamic filters, insight professionals can drill down into the data to a level they need.
Inertia: This barrier is common to almost every new innovation. Think about the adoption curve for online research, communities or DIY tools. Why change when no one is asking for it? The answer, of course, is that change is always hard. I’m seeing a shift in thinking and it won’t be long before digital reporting and dashboards are competing head-on with PPT.