02- a data dashboard product, how does it work?

02- a data dashboard product, how does it work?
a step-wise tutorial towards passive income from data insights

The previous chapter talked about why you could consider building a data dashboard product of your own. This chapter shows how you could transform your consultancy job into an income generating business with data dashboards for the industry you are specialized in.

step 1 – realization that it could work

The first step, is to realize that you can transform your business to generate passive income with the knowledge you have now. And in stead of spending it in time for clients, you can spend it now in the preparation of a data dashboard product. This step is scary. It means you have to invest time now without the guarantee that it will result in income later. We understand that this idea has to sink in, just like it did for us. But when it does and you realize the benefits of this model, you will definitely have a lot of questions. That’s ok, we are there for you. Business starts and thrives when it is from person to person. Just reach out to us.

But for now, let’s just continue and see what more is required to launch the dashboard product. And then you decide if this is something for you or not.

With your data dashboard product you will give your industry the insights they need to make the right decisions.

step 2 – repeat what you did before at your clients but now in a product of your own

This is the practical phase where the dashboards are created. As you are a data analytics expert, I assume that you are already familiar with most of the things that need to be done in this step. It involves the modeling of client data into an OLAP model, defining the ETL processes and composing insights into dashboards on top of analytical cubes. Because you understand the concepts of dimensions, facts, hierarchies and have worked with MDX and XMLA, this should be a piece of cake. And if you have experience with visualizations that provide meaning to your audience, it is even better. All your existing knowledge can be 100% be reused in our software. Concepts are the same. Just another tool. And, in the case you need a bit of help to get started, or if you’ve never worked with an OLAP tool before, we are here to help you to fill the blanks.

So, basically you will be creating insightful dashboards as you have done before as a consultant. But there is a major difference this time. You will now do it in such a way that the result can be deployed and used by hundreds of clients by just simply making use of your “template industry model”.

To create this data dashboard product of your own follow these steps:

set-up or buy a secure cloud server with our software

Preferably a server that is ISO9001/ ISO270001 / NEN7510 certified. We provide you with the software and – if needed – training. If you do not want to bother with SSL, server hardening and the like, you can sell a ready-to-go package from us.

create an insightful set of dashboards for your industry

As, said above. You are the expert and know what your industry misses in insights. Now you create the first set of dashboards on top of dummy data, or even better on top of a representative data set from a willing client. You need to learn how to set-up the data sources, the ETL and the data model in our software, but it is similar to the tools you are used to. The dashboard part might be new, but it is pretty intuitive and there are plenty of examples and tutorials. Do not over do it in this step. Start with the minimum set of information your industry needs now already. You can always extend later. Just follow the MVP (minimum viable product) strategy here.

validate your product with customers

In your consultancy work, you did the same with the clients’ stakeholders. Now you do the same with a small representative group in your industry. May be have some old “colleagues” have a look at it or try to find some clients in your network. Check if you have hit the right spot, and modify where necessary.

When validation is successfully completed, your product is ready to launch.
— the result of step 2 —

Before we proceed to the next steps. Let’s evaluate what we now have and why it is so different than others .…

You now have a data dashboard product in the cloud that is ready to roll out on a subscription basis to clients in your industry. A rollout to a new client involves the following three easy-to-do activities:

  • you set-up a share of the standard model for this client, so the new client gets a database of its own, parametrized for their system(s). If required, this can be fully automated later.
  • you set-up manually the authorization and the user accounts for the new client, so they can immediately access their own set of dashboards. (Later you can link the authorization and authentication to the clients’ systems to automate the on-boarding and user maintenance.)
  • you set-up the links towards their data sources or you set-up a directory for the customer to upload its data. Once done, you set-up the load scheduler and data load is automated from day one. Zero maintenance.
step 3 – launch and market your solution

The launch of a product is more a marketing term. Factually, you product is already there and available for any client. You just need to tell your industry it is there. So, you need to do the marketing.

As a someone stepping out of the consultancy comfort zone, this is something new. But, really, it is pretty normal outside the consultancy world to do a lot on marketing. If you want to deep dive into this I can point you to very valuable readings and podcasts on the internet on how you could do this best.

To keep it short, I will give a summary:

  1. name your product, define a new brand, launch a one page website (keep it simple);
  2. style your dashboards according to your new brand so it gets your look-and-feel (our software allows you to shape it as you wish);
  3. market your solution: Google ad words, mouth-by-mouth, network, LinkedIn, industry events;
  4. do proof-of-concepts, give free access for a limited time for the first x clients, etcetera. Be creative.
— the USPs of your product —.

This is how you will market your solution. The main USPs of your data dashboard product are:

  • your product provides valuable insights to your industry (because you knew what they needed in the first place);
  • your product’s insights are based on their own data; which is always up-to-date (due to the automated loads);
  • you allow users in a client organization to access your product (authorization & authentication is automated and our software gives unlimited seats);
  • your product has no footprint in the client organization (no software required, no additional manual work is required and it is accessible via a standard browser);
  • the client data in your product is safe and secure (a client has its own database, authorization determines what a user in an organization can access, the server is hardened, secure and ISO certified).
step 4 – automate your solution even further

Now, with a few clients having subscribe to your data service, it is time to automate. In your MVP version there were still some manual actions required for a roll out. These manual steps need to be removed. So, with our software we set-up structures for automated authorization & authentication (link to the security systems of the client, like Active Directory), create structures to automate the copy of your template model to a client database. This can be done through some custom code that uses the XMLA interface of our software.

Now with low maintenance efforts on your side, you can easily support multiple organizations with a minimum effort. The only work left are some initial set-up activities that are not worth automating. Your operation runs with minimum overhead. Perfect, because that is good for your bottom line.

step 5 – add more insights

As clients join your insight platform, money starts flowing in. And at just a few clients you will get to your break even point. Now, it is time to grow even more. And in our opinion you should grow by adding even more value to existing and new customers. A good way to do this is add more and more insights. Update the dashboards or add new ones, add new topics, include benchmark information, etcetera.

Also with regard to the marketing: schedule client meet-ups and user sessions and get recognized as the de facto insight platform for your specific industry niche.

step 6 – live from the income from your product

If you provide good insights, clients get hooked to your dashboard product. And once that happens, you’ll know that they will extend their subscription year after year. May be even subscribe to new additional dashboard products you might provide aside this offering.

And that will mean: a bigger footprint in their organization, more licenses and more likely that prospects will turn into clients.

Year-after-year money flowing in, with a minimum of effort to get things going.

Wow, this sounds like a job description to sign for, isn’t it? Of course, this is just the rough outline of steps to get there. We’ll gladly talk in depth with you how this could work for you. But, let’s check out how this could be realized, as many analytical dashboard tools are not so keen in letting people like us use it as a product. Read in the next chapter “what dashboard software to use” about the software that not only allows it, but encourages you to use it in your own product.