SIGMA Data Insights Rebranding

SIGMA Marketing Now SIGMA Data Insights

We are excited to announce that we are in the midst of completing a rebranding effort in response to our evolving focus and corporate vision. At the heart of this rebranding is a change of our company name to SIGMA Data Insights. This name change is strategic and emphasizes the capabilities of our team, what we do and what we love.

Coinciding with the unveiling of our new brand, we have launched a new website that we invite you to explore (www.sigmadatainsights.com). The new site focuses on the industries we serve and solutions that promote profitable customer relationships and identify opportunities in evolving markets.

What this means for our clients is that we are conducting business as usual with a renewed focus and drive to live up to our new name. As our new brand is unveiled, you will see the surface changes right away with our new logo and corporate color scheme, but this rebrand is not just cosmetic. Our team has taken the time to analyze our approach to the markets we serve, and reinterpret how we work with clients and partners on a day to day basis.

“While the technology we use and complexity of the data we analyze continues to change and mature, our mission has remained the same – create more profitable customer relationships through analytics, marketing technology and data-driven strategy to drive results for our clients. This rebrand from SIGMA Marketing to SIGMA Data Insights, reinforces our focus on all things data as well as our motivation to help our clients successfully reach their business goals, ” said Stefan Willimann, CEO.

If you have questions or comments about our rebrand, send us an email!

Series: Building Great Dashboards Part 4: Dashboards Are Like Plants, They Need Tending

Part 4: Dashboards are Like Plants, They Need Tending

Building Great Dashboards Series

Part 4: Dashboards are Like Plants, They Need Tending

This is the fourth, and final, part of our series on building great dashboards. If you have not read the earlier posts you can find them here:

Part 1: Gathering Requirements

Part 2: Creating a Mock-Up

Part 3: Solicit Feedback While Building a Dashboard

Our previous posts have explained several steps in the process of building dashboards. This post will focus on launching the dashboards and maintaining them.

Launch

The most important aspect of a successful launch is to make sure everyone who will be using the dashboard has seen the finished product and knows how to use it. If this is the first dashboard they are using, you will need to cover the basics of credentials and navigation as well. In a perfect world, doing each of these sessions one-on-one is the best way to ensure success. If the team is small enough and you have time, then go for it! More often though, this will be done in a large group, either in-person or remotely over a screen-sharing service. Either way, it is useful to record your sessions so that they can be viewed at a later date by current users and by new team members as part of their onboarding.

Maintenance

Is anyone even using this dashboard? That is the question many analysts may ask themselves after launch, and with most dashboard platforms you can look in at usage metrics to see who and how often users are logging in. Here are some key questions to focus on:

  1. Have all users logged in? – Check-in with anyone who has not signed in after a week or two to ensure they know how to access the dashboard and do not have any questions.
  2. Are users logging in after the initial burst of excitement around the launch? – People usually log in a lot right after the launch and then usage may drop off. This is natural as users initially tend to revert back to their previous workarounds, rather than using the dashboard. Make sure to remind users about the value of the dashboards and see if anything needs to be tweaked now that users have had access to it for a few weeks.
  3. Are all the different roles using it?  – For example, if you built a dashboard for both sales and marketing teams, but only the marketing users are using it, check in with the sales team and see why. Is there something missing? What about their previous workarounds do they prefer? Many times, you will find that users do not want to ask for additional functionality immediately following a launch but sometimes the simplest updates can cause them to adopt.

After the initial launch period, you can keep an eye on usage and use periodic check-ins with the team to discuss how things are going and if their reporting needs have changed. Discuss how to incorporate these new requests into the dashboard and keep them up-to-date and relevant.

If your dashboard begins to get complicated or “too busy” with additional updates, then it may be time to spin off a new dashboard for specific questions.

The Great Dashboard Portal in the Sky

No matter how successful the launch, or how meticulous you are with maintenance, every dashboard eventually needs to be sent to the great dashboard portal in the sky.

Things are constantly changing. Maybe the team has been re-organized and has different goals. Maybe different data and systems are being used. Maybe it is just too complicated to keep tweaking and would be better to start fresh. No matter the ultimate cause of death, eventually every dashboard needs to be refreshed for the last time and shut down. Use this opportunity to take what you have learned and start the whole process over again to build a better, newer version. Try not to get too attached to any particular dashboard and always remember that you are trying to answer questions and make users’ work easier – not hold onto a dashboard for as long as possible.

 

Thank you for reading this series on building great dashboards. We really hope that it has been helpful for you now, and will continue to be a resource in the future. Feel free to drop us a comment to let us know what is – or is not – working for you. We are curious explorers here at SIGMA. Although we think this is the best way to build dashboards today, we are always discovering how to do things better tomorrow.

I want to give special thanks to Alyshia Olsen. She presented Design with the User in Mind at Tableau Conference 2017, which helped inspire the way SIGMA builds dashboards. You can check out that presentation and see other work she has completed at her website: alyshiaolsen.com.

Series: Building Great Dashboards Part 3: Solicit Feedback While Building

Part 3: Solicit Feedback While Building a Dashboard

Building Great Dashboards Series

Part 3: Solicit Feedback While Building a Dashboard

This is part three of our four-part series on building great dashboards.  If you have not read Part 1: Gathering Dashboard Requirements or Part 2: Creating a Dashboard Mock-Up, you may want to go back and read them.

In our previous blog post, we explained the importance of building a mock-up. In this post, we will explain the value of soliciting user feedback throughout the dashboard building process. You may be thinking that between the requirements meeting and the mock-up that you have spent quite enough time getting feedback, however, in our experience the best dashboards are created with feedback throughout the process. Despite gathering requirements and feedback on the mock-up, nothing is like showing users a working dashboard to get some great insights into their thinking and usage.

How to gather feedback

It is best to have short, weekly meetings with users to discuss the latest improvements to the dashboards and gather their thoughts. Below are some ideas on how to effectively use your time together.

See how users interact

When possible let the users see the dashboard, and watch how they interact with it. Try to refrain from explaining the dashboards and instead let users explore. This user exploration will help you identify what parts and pieces of the dashboard may be confusing and could require some adjustments. It may be helpful to give users a specific task, such as answering a question, and see how they navigate through the dashboards and respond. In our current remote environment, our team can send users a link to a dashboard and ask them to take a video of the screen as they try to answer the question. Be sure to ask users to think out loud so you can determine where any confusion is taking place or give tips for easier and more efficient ways to answer the question using the dashboards.

What if I have 25 users?

You don’t need to meet weekly with all users if there is a large group. Meeting with a few key users is fine, but make sure to have a check-in with the entire group midway through the project to make sure you have not veered too far off course. Also, feel free to pushback if you feel requests do not represent the entire group. If there are a few different “types” of users (for example if sales and marketing team members are using the same dashboard) then it is important that all the user types send a representative to the weekly meeting.

Watch out for HIPPOs! (Highly Paid Person’s Opinion)

Try to understand the dynamics of the team you are building a dashboard for. There may be a leader (a HIPPO) who will tell you exactly what they want to see, without taking into account what their team members need. At SIGMA we have found the best way to handle this is to build a separate view for the leader, which is at a higher level than what the rest of the team needs.

What to do with feedback

You are not the end-user

This is so important to remember that it bears repeating: you are not the end-user. (You do, however, have valuable knowledge that your end-user may not – more on that later). You have built a beautiful mock-up, gathered feedback, and agreed on the direction, but now users want to add a lot more filters to clutter things up or they want to add a data table that ruins the simplistic, visual design you were going for. They are destroying your beautiful project! Except they are not. They are trying to create a tool that is useful for them. Sometimes it is helpful to have fifteen filters on a dashboard – if it really solves a specific problem for a user, so be it. In addition, oftentimes having a data table available somewhere in the dashboard is useful for users who want to dive deeper.

Remember that you will not be using the final dashboard to answer questions and solve challenges. Your users will. When users ask for additions that are functional, but not beautiful err on the side of giving them those features.

But you can push back

It may sound like we are advocating for doing whatever users’ request, and we are suggesting that should be the default, but there are times to push back. You are more knowledgeable than your users about the data available and the best visualization techniques. Here are some examples of when to push back and share your point of view instead:

  • Do not align with goals: Oftentimes users forget what specific goals this dashboard may have had. It is best to gently remind users of that, and let them know what they are requesting may be added in the future.
  • Technical problems: Some things just cannot be done given the data you have and the software you are using. You should also push back if they are asking for things that may slow down the dashboard.
  • Build what your users need, not what they want: People often want flashy dashboards that look fun to use, but often what they need is just a few standardized reports to help them get through their day. No one opens up dashboards for the fun of it – they are trying to solve a problem quickly and move onto the next task.

At the end of this process, hopefully you have dashboards you are proud of and that users are excited to start using. In the fourth, and last, part of our series we will explain what to do once the dashboards are launched.

What Do You Wish You Could Go See At The Henry Ford?

What do you wish you could go see at The Henry Ford?

What do you wish you could go see at The Henry Ford?

As we think about the new normal for our day to day operations at SIGMA, we are also forced to reflect on what we miss about a time before COVID-19 significantly changed our working environment. What is one of the things we miss the most? Our face-to-face client interactions. Unfortunately, due to our no business travel policy during this time, we can’t go see our clients like our friends at The Henry Ford.

So, we asked our team “what do you wish you could go see at The Henry Ford?”

Download PDF of our team’s responses.

To learn more about The Henry Ford, visit thehenryford.org.

Bynder Certified Service Partner

SIGMA Marketing Insights Announces Bynder Partnership

SIGMA Marketing Insights Announces Bynder Partnership

Rochester, NY: SIGMA Marketing Insights (SIGMA) announced that it has joined Bynder as a Certified Service Partner. Bynder, the global leader in digital asset management (DAM), works hand-in-hand with partners like SIGMA to grow their clients’ businesses through DAM implementation, custom integration and managed support services.

Marketers are producing more digital content than ever before and distributing it across an increasingly complex web of platforms and channels. As a result, organizations need a solution to store, manage, and distribute branded content with ease and speed. Bynder provides brands with a single platform to centralize all digital assets, drive better brand consistency, deliver faster time to market, and foster more efficient digital collaboration.

“SIGMA’s most valuable client/partner relationships all have in common a clear understanding of specific business goals. These are mission critical requirements for developing a smart data-driven strategy that drives ROI and business growth,” said Stefan Willimann, SIGMA’s CEO. “Bynder adds yet another way for SIGMA to add overall value to our clients. Our team has been working with Bynder for 3+ years and our clients have experienced the value of a Bynder implementation paired with managed support services.”

SIGMA’s partnership with Bynder is part of its initiative to focus on key technology relationships in 2020. SIGMA is in the process of establishing partnerships with best in class technology organizations that will add value to SIGMA’s current clients and create connections with organizations that are interested in SIGMA’s core capabilities.

“We are thrilled to welcome SIGMA as part of our community of trusted partners,” said Brad Kofoed, Bynder’s Senior Vice President, Global Alliances & Channel. “SIGMA’s laser focus on analytics, marketing technology and data-driven programs that drive results makes them a natural fit as a Bynder Certified Service Partner, and we look forward to continuing our work with the SIGMA team to mutually support continued customer success.”

 

About SIGMA Marketing Insights

SIGMA Marketing Insights is an agency, hyper focused on creating profitable customer relationships through analytics, marketing technology and data-driven strategy. SIGMA creates a collaborative environment where clients and partners talk strategy with senior leadership, insights with data scientists, tech integration with the database team and map out multichannel solutions with the client engagement team to achieve specific business goals. SIGMA is based in downtown Rochester, NY with a strategic group also located in Boston, MA. www.sigmamarketing.com

About Bynder
Bynder is the global leader in digital asset management (DAM), providing the most powerful and scalable SaaS solution for brand management. Recognized for its intuitive user experience, Bynder helps more than 1,000,000 brand managers at 1,800 organizations, including Spotify, Puma and Icelandair, to create, share and organize the full lifecycle of their digital content in the cloud. Founded in 2013, Bynder has since grown to over 350 employees in seven offices around the globe, including the Netherlands, USA, Spain, UK and UAE. The company is backed by Insight Partners. For more information, visit www.bynder.com

Download PDF of press release

Media Contact: Mallory Tabolt | 585-278-7414 | mallory.tabolt@sigmamarketing.com

Series: Building Great Dashboards Part 2: Creating a Dashboard Mock Up

Part 2: Creating a Dashboard Mock-Up

Building Great Dashboards Series

Part 2: Creating a Dashboard Mock-up

This is part two of our four-part series on building great dashboards.  If you have not read Part 1: Gathering Dashboard Requirements, you may want to go back and start there.

In our previous blog post, we described how to have a productive requirements gathering meeting, that allows you to know what stakeholders want out of the dashboards.  For the next step you may be tempted to jump right into Tableau, Power BI, or your dashboard tool of choice but we recommend building a mock-up of the dashboard. This mock-up is just an image or a visual of what the dashboard will look like.  If you have graphic design skills or a graphic designer on your team, then you can use a tool like Adobe InDesign to build the mock-up. Otherwise, PowerPoint or even a piece of paper will work just fine. The goal is not to build a mock-up that will look exactly like the final product – just something close enough to share with end users for discussion and feedback.

Click here for an example mock-up created in PowerPoint.

Now that you have the basic idea of what the mock-up is, let’s dive into why you should use it and how to build one.

Why should I build a mock-up dashboard?

After your requirements meeting, there are probably a lot of directions you can go in to answer the high-priority questions that you gathered from the team. Before you begin using a dashboard tool like Tableau or Power BI, you need to build a data set, and how you build that data set will be based on what the final dashboards will look like. In reality, you could spend weeks building a data set and initial dashboard, only for key users to request something completely different. Enter the mock-up. A mock-up is a very quick way to get a visual and your plan in front of the key users so everyone can agree at a high-level on how the dashboards will look and function.

How do I build a mock-up dashboard?

It can be intimidating staring at a blank computer screen trying to decide what to create. Below are a few ways to help you get started.

Look for inspiration

There are many resources that show dashboards created by other people that can help get that creativity flowing. Tableau shares a Viz of the Day from its public gallery. The Big Book of Dashboards provides examples of dashboards for specific business challenges and scenario solutions. If your organization already has a library of high-quality dashboards, then you can look at those for inspiration as well.

A tip from our data scientists: Whenever you see a dashboard you like, save a copy of the image to a folder, so you can scroll through them all when it is time to create a mock-up.

Get a team together

Don’t feel like you have to do it alone! If there are other analysts at your organization, even if they are not on your team or working on this project, ask them if they will help you to build a mock-up. You can briefly describe the key questions, and they can quickly sketch an idea. It does not take much time, and it may end up inspiring the final design.

Crazy Eights

Crazy eights is a design exercise to help you quickly come up with multiple mock-up solutions. You can do it by yourself, or in a group. Just take a regular piece of letter-sized paper and fold it so that there are eight separate rectangles on it.  Set a timer for eight minutes, and start sketching out a different dashboard design in each rectangle.  Keep it real quick and dirty.  For each box, spend about a minute trying try to come up with a totally different view for the dashboard. You may find this difficult after the third or fourth one, but do your best to try to get to eight. Do not worry if your views start to get outlandish, just keep trying to come up with new ideas. Once you are done, you can try to pull the best ideas from each sketch to build a final mock-up.

Share with the stakeholders

Once you have built a mock-up, it is time to go back to your key stakeholders and get their feedback on the mock-up.  This is best done in a live meeting, but if it is hard to get everyone together at the same time, it can be done via email. If you send around a PDF, the team can add comments and notes directly in the file for feedback.

After collecting feedback from the team, you are in a really great place to build the data set and start building dashboards. Watch out for an upcoming post on Part 3: Soliciting Feedback While Building a Dashboard.

Our Reflection + Education

Our Reflection + Education

With the current environment of social unrest in our community and throughout the U.S., SIGMA announced that we as a company would be observing Juneteenth, the nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

We felt that it was important to give our team members an opportunity to support each other and our community during this profound time and we encouraged our team to take the day, or part of it, for reflection, volunteerism, education or activism in support of our diverse community and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In support of our team members, we provided a number of resources and suggestions, some of which were used by our team during their observance of Juneteenth.

The majority of the SIGMA team and their family members participated or donated to the Virtual Roc Juneteenth 5k Run/Walk to benefit the Rochester Civil Rights Heritage Site. Between donations and race fees our team was able to give $450+ that will go toward honoring local Civil Rights leaders. Some of these team members also spent the day exploring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in downtown Rochester, which has been transformed into a space for individuals to write messages of support.

Other activities that our team members participated in on Juneteenth included podcasts and videos. Some of our favorites included:

NPR’s Code Switch

TED Talk: How we can make racism a solvable problem – and improve policing

TED Talk: What it takes to be racially literate

Click here for a list of additional resources including local opportunities and organizations in Rochester, articles, podcasts, documentaries, movies and book suggestions that were provided to our team.

An Open Conversation

Wednesday, July 1st also marked our first SIGMA Summit- a virtual internal conference that allowed our team members to share new ideas, processes, successes and included an open conversation about SIGMA’s support of inclusivity and diversity as well as a discussion of structural racism in our community.

“The Summit provided an opportunity for our team to hear each other’s thoughts, ideas and concerns about the current environment and it felt meaningful and impactful. I felt moved by the willingness of our team to share their honest thoughts and opinions. We will continue to recognize and integrate open conversations like this into our company DNA and ensure that our team members feel empowered to open up and share without judgement.” – Stefan Willimann, CEO.

Series: Building Great Dashboards Part 1: Gathering Dashboard Requirements

Part 1: Gathering Dashboard Requirements

Building Great Dashboards Series

Part 1: Gathering Dashboard Requirements

Self-service dashboards have been growing in popularity for many years, but the truth is, for many teams, stakeholders still rely heavily on having a Data Analyst to walk them through the process and come up with thought-provoking questions to ask.  When teams were working in the same office environment, this may have worked reasonably well, but in our current situation and the majority of teams working remotely because of social distancing, it is harder to support.

With that in mind, we thought we would share a series of posts on building great dashboards. Today, we outline our principles for holding a productive stakeholder meeting to gather dashboard requirements.

  1. Don’t focus on the specifics of what the dashboards will actually look like, but instead identify the questions stakeholders are trying to answer.

When we start asking what stakeholders want to see in a dashboard, we often get very specific suggestions about chart types and visualizations. Although this may be important later in the process, when you are in the gathering requirements stage we want to focus on understanding what they are trying to see and answer with the data and then worry about the best way to display it later.

For example: If a stakeholder says, “I want to see a bar chart with the top industries that our leads are coming from.” Try to get to the underlying business question, which in this case might be “What are the top industries for new business opportunities?”

  1. Ask “why?” when stakeholders describe what they are looking for. 

Asking “why?” will help you to understand the underlying business problem they are trying to answer and may yield a radically different dashboard design in later stages.

Continuing our example from above: If you asked “why?” a stakeholder may respond with “I need to know how to focus marketing resources.” Their answer may now lead us down a different path than just seeing the top industries shown in a bar chart.

  1. Don’t limit the discussion, but be sure to prioritize. 

In the gathering requirements stage be sure to capture all ideas, even if you think they will not all be able to be included or addressed right away. With that being said, it is very important to prioritize all requests so we know what to focus on now and what to focus on later. For every request, ask stakeholders if it is high, medium, or low priority.  If everything is high priority (as sometimes happens), limit each stakeholder to one request or metric they would want out of a dashboard to help focus their thoughts.

Ideally, at the end of the meeting you will have a long list of requests, but in a prioritized order that can be executed in a logical way. Use our Dashboard Gathering Requirements Guide to help you stay organized.

If you follow these steps, you will come out of the stakeholder meeting with some great data that will set you up to create successful dashboards.  Watch out for an upcoming post on Creating a Dashboard Mock Up.

Building Great Dashboards Series:

  • Part 1: Gathering Dashboard Requirements
  • Part 2: Creating a Dashboard Mock Up
  • Part 3: Solicit Feedback While Building a Dashboard
  • Part 4: Dashboards are Like Plants, They Need Tending
A Message From Our CEO

A Message From Our CEO

SIGMA as a company will be observing Juneteenth, the nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

We feel it is important to give our team members an opportunity to support each other and our community during this profound time. This Friday, June 19th, we are encouraging our team to take the day, or part of it, for reflection, volunteerism, education or activism in support of our diverse community and the Black Lives Matter movement.

We will be providing our team with educational resources and encouraging them to participate and/or contribute to the virtual ROC Juneteenth 5k Run/Walk to benefit the Rochester Civil Rights Heritage Site. We will also be holding an open conversation about community support and the Black Lives Matter movement during our upcoming internal SIGMA Summit on July 1st.