By Scott Lesley on February 15th, 2020
Dashboards don’t have to be ugly. In fact, with the right technology, nearly everything can be configured to look like impressive mission control rooms straight out of some wildly inspiring movie about a NASA endeavor, or a science fiction military victory that saves the world. Beyond the striking impression made by a slick set-up, what is the real value of a great NOC display or dashboard? Without the right tools to display useful information, such rooms can look great, but provide little real value to the business. The solution is to consider the people with eyes on glass and understanding what they need to do and how they use it. After multiple years of design thinking there is a real opportunity to apply these principles to building a layered model that meets the need of the person using the system and not the system using the user.
In many cases, multiple displays are not used to their fullest capability, because all those great monitors display disparate dashboards from multiple different systems. Soft-window software can pop them into different spaces on high resolution monitors. In a NOC, the operator may have one screen showing a network monitoring tool, another with information about application or database performance, and more displays for the Weather Channel, stock ticker, or CNN. Every single screen looks different, and none of the information is integrated. The result is a room full of cool looking displays that are not doing much to move the needle on productivity or crushing mean time to repair (MTTR) which is NOC speak for “how long will it take to work again”.
In many cases, multiple displays can multiply the ugly, because the information presented across all those screens is not contextually driven. Rather than an integrated, clear picture of network health, disconnected data from disconnected sources can confuse NOC personnel, or at the very least, make the room feel chaotic. And this story isn’t just true for the NOC, it happens across multiple use cases and systems outside of IT.
What if there was a way to present a consistent, branded, yet personalized experience across displays? And, what if those branded dashboards actually worked with each other to display what was important to that person in real time in real time? There could be a map of the world on one display with red, yellow, and green pins showing resolved and pending issues around the globe. Maybe there’s also a regional map on another screen, with specific tickets open in Japan, and an even more granular look at the New York City market with specific details, gauges, graphs and charts on a third screen. Every system, from network to database to servers, security, applications, weather, current events and more can be displayed – with consistent branding – across every monitor, even extending to the screens people are using on mobile devices as they go about their business and lives. Integrating systems means presenting a consistent aesthetic so everyone is on the same page without being on the same pane.
Let’s say there’s a huge system issue, like a network outage that grounds hundreds of commercial airline flights, or communication outages during a hurricane. The MSP’s Operations Director, or NOC Manager may decide the entire team must focus on resolving a core issue and nothing else, until it is solved. In the case of a catastrophic network issue, all screens in the NOC can be used for a 360° view of the problem. If the NOC Manager updates one screen or network tool, all the rest of the screens – displaying dashboards with integrated data – will update in real time. So when we look at everyday problems as well as crises such as those described above, the value shows in measurable outcomes. Mean Time to Identify (MTTI) reduces the time to see and identify an issue. Coordinated displays means faster and more accurate handoffs, faster time to resolve, less rework, and “self-inflicted” operator error. Clarity reduces fatigue and stress, which when they are removed increase work quality and employee retention. The key is to design for each stakeholder experience and outcome and not just shifting the work to a different group.
So, what is the pathway toward consistent, branded, integrated information? You need a Connected Intelligence Platform that complements the tools you have today and the new things coming in the door. The good news, we do this everyday for global companies, governments and regional service providers. For more information on EdgeCore’s platform, schedule a demonstration of discussion by contacting us.