by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 2 July 2013
A revolution in database technologies has exponentially increased the quantity and availability of data. However, that data is not of much use, unless it can be used to craft a story. This week, in this Klipfolio review we will see how this analytics software can be used to craft dashboard stories for your organization. In the Klipfolio review, we will look at the solution's interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.
Given the parallels with business intelligence (that was already present in organizations before the data revolution occurred), Klipfolio founder Allan Wille rests his case for the solution on the democratization of data.
"A dashboard is about communicating stories," says Wille. "If we can simplify the way we tell stories, then our aim is achieved." Because stories are universal, the application aims to make them available to multiple stakeholders (or, at least, "90 percent of the organization," according to Wille).
The pervasiveness of data has led it to being available in myriad forms and types across the organization. For example, there is the real-time data stream from social networks. Then, there is the data from mobile sources and search results etc. Finally, and most importantly for organizations, there are metrics and key performance indicators or KPIs. Simultaneously, there has been an increase in data complexity.
Klipfolio takes this always pervasive data and translates it into a simple and accessible format. The application aggregates and displays data to multiple stakeholders, whether they are employees or management. "The idea is to get employees thinking about data in a data-driven culture," says Wille.
As an example, he cites the case of call centers. Data is extremely important to track, measure, and quantify success at call centers. However, the use cases for data vary across cultures. For example, management requires high-level data about calls and metrics to take key decisions. Similarly, employees require granular call data to improve their performance.
Klipfolio provides custom data to different stakeholders through multiple devices. For example, employees can view call metrics through LCD mounted screens. Similarly, management can create their own personalized Klips or dashboard to view metrics on mobile devices. Apart from providing dashboards to Call Centers, where their application has been doing brisk sales, Klipfolio is also used extensively in sales and marketing organizations.
Wille identifies the application's architecture (which keeps data sources separate yet updated), ability to create custom functions and formulae, and self-serve capabilities (enabling even non-technical users to operate the system) as important differentiators with other, similar systems.
As its name implies, Klipfolio uses custom widgets (or, Klips as they like to refer to the snippets) to display your data in real time.
Creating a Klip is fairly easy and involves choosing the form and type of visualization and creating data sources. I really liked the fact that the solution offers you a variety of data sources to choose from. These range from productivity applications such as Google Docs to social networks such as Facebook to analytics applications such as Google analytics. You can also choose custom web sources (using RESTful URLs and APIs) or upload custom files as your data sources. While a majority of web sources offer custom screens to help you retrieve data from their databases, Klipfolio does the work for those instances (such as local databases) in which there is no custom screen.
After entering your data source, you can further edit your Klip. Because the interface resembles an Excel sheet, it is fairly easy to navigate and make changes to your data. For example, you can change formulae associated with specific elements or include visual indicators such as Up and Down arrows to show trends in the data. Simultaneously, the application provides a snapshot of the final visualization alongside your sheet.
The greatest benefit of the application is that it simplifies complex data comparisons. As someone who constantly uses (and abuses) Excel sheets, I have always been frustrated by data crunching software. The applications require more time to manipulate than they do for display purposes. Klipfolio simplifies your approach. In addition, it provides context by enabling comparison between two data sources with a click. The variety of data sources and availability across multiple devices further provides convenience and flexibility.
One of the areas where the solution could improve is in its analytics capabilities. Currently, that ability is limited for a reason. According Wille, the task of analytics and data discovery is the role of the data analyst. The role of Klipfolio is to provide a platform for telling the story of the data, rather than per se analyzing and discovering the data itself. That said, the application's developers are actively working to enhance its analytics and data discovery capabilities, for instance with business intelligence features like drill-down.
Klipfolio has been around for more than a decade. While they offer an on-premise solution, Klipfolio has thrown its weight behind its SaaS offering. Klipfolio Dashboard for web and mobile is offered on a pay per user per month basis, with discounts for volume and time commitments. Pricing starts at $20/user/month.
In a word, awesome. I really liked the fact that the solution is context-based and enables comparison and context between multiple data sources.
Ratings: ease of use 5/5, features 5/5, value 5/5 and ease of deployment 4/5