Precision-Guided Analytics: Dropping Measures into Date Sliders


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Precision-Guided Analytics:

Dropping Measures into Date Sliders

The difference between a successful organization and one that’s headed for the scrap heap is the inherent ability to make smart decisions based on concrete fact while in the process of striving towards a goal.

A great example of this from outside the business world is that of an Offensive or Defensive Coordinator during a football game. OC’s & DC’s need to make proper in-game adjustments to their own play-calling in order to remedy their own shortcomings & exploit areas of the other team’s weakness(es). If a Coordinator waits until Halftime, chances are that the score by that point will be out of hand and too difficult to mount a comeback. That’s why quick, smart decisions based on “Precision-Guided Analytics” are absolutely crucial for leadership to recognize, adjust and exploit in an effort to ensure their team’s success while in mid-stride.

By this stage of the game, many of us have already built a handful of dashboards with some pretty in-depth charts that get us on the precipice of some serious analytics. But what if I were to tell you that you have the ability to target specific date ranges where you can properly analyze specific time periods? Times of unanticipated success or an unexpected breakdown that can be analyzed in hindsight to understand what lent to either type of trajectory?

What’s unbelievably cool (YES – analytics can be cool) about Chartio is that you not only have the ability to target these areas, but the set-up for this type of analysis is RIDICULOUSLY SIMPLE. Check it out:

So, say you have a “basic” sales dashboard that has “just a pinch” of marketing campaign data:

Simple, right? Well… here’s where it gets fun. We’re going to drop in a date slider. Go over to the far right column and select the “Add Control” option (second option down… looks like a syphon). Choose the first option, which, funny enough… is “Date Slider”. From there, you’re going to be prompted to set the parameters of your filter. Easily enough, all you have to do is go into the “Users” drop-down, drag and drop “Created Date” into the Dimensions field, changing the aggregation from “Day of” to “Month of” – remaining in ascending order. If you’d rather, here’s the SQL:


(Not bad for a kid with a Liberal Arts degree, huh?!)

Now, you’re going to want to go into the right half of the screen and directly under where you can see a preview of the date slider, you’ll name it something clever like “Date Slider” (innovative, right?!)… If you want, you can then adjust the default start setting for your date slider. Currently, we roll with a number of date variables to suit your Org’s needs. In this case, we’ll use “{TODAY.SUB(3, ‘months’)}” to give us a look similar to rolling QTD (“Quarter to Date”). Go ahead and click “Save Chart” in the top left… This visualization (aka “viz”) will now be “sticky” to your cursor until you click where you want your viz to land. Feel free to resize it as you see fit. Now that you have a properly sized Date Slider, you can now slide your start date to the beginning of the quarter for a proper QTD analysis.

Now that the slider is set in place, go ahead and find the chart you want to connect to your Date Slider and open it in the Chart Editor. Drag the date column you want to filter by to the Filters section. Choose your filter type (you’ll probably want to use between or between and including) from the first dropdown, then select {DATE_SLIDER_NAME.START} and {DATE_SLIDER_NAME.END} from the second and third dropdowns. Now do the same for all of the other charts on your dashboard you want connected.

Here’s the thing… Date Sliders are great to analyze periods of time, but when you want to focus on specific areas of success or (god forbid) periods of plateaus or down-turns, they don’t help very much. But what if you could add a detail to your slider where you could focus on a sudden & unexpected up-tick in users in order to analyze and hopefully replicate? Click on the “triple ellipses” in the top left corner of the Date Slider and select “Edit Filter”. That’ll bring-up the Chart Creator again… Now, pick a measure to track… In my case, I’m choosing Count of Distinct Users (“# User ID” measure in the Users grouping).

Once saved, your dashboard will look like this:

And now, you can focus in on a particular area of success or concern… Hopefully with a dashboard that has a substantial amount more pertinent information than my “humble Sandbox”, but you get my point.

The key to all of this isn’t merely the ability to run quarterly analysis to see the overall big-picture… It’s in looking at smaller areas of focus to replicate or remedy while striving for your team’s goals that will allow you the versatility to make appropriate changes on the fly. These mid-game adjustments can help your team crush their goals, or (in a worst-case scenario) be able to make changes to points of down-turn in order to mount a comeback of epic proportion.

Now… go forth, divide and conquer…