I've been a fan of dashboards as a way of monitoring and managing business operations ever since I heard about one, way back in 1995. The homegrown software was not only a novelty for the time but a surprise in other ways, too: It wasn't being implemented by some U.S. multinational based on the latest thinking out of Silicon Valley; it had been developed for a family cement business in Mexico.
So, I wrote an article about that business, Cemex, for the front page of the Wall Street Journal, where I was the Mexico City bureau chief at the time. I was pleased to see that, in the ensuing years, the dashboard played a key role in Cemex's expansion into a major player internationally (it is currently the fifth-largest cement producer in the world) and made its CEO, Lorenzo Zambrano, something of a rock star in business circles.
The initial iteration of the dashboard simply presented Zambrano with green, yellow and red lights that showed the status of the company's many operations. But, unlike with other businesses' reporting systems, those lights changed in real time, not based on some monthly or even weekly review, and he could drill down into the systems to see the source of any problems. We visited his plant in Puebla, where he showed me that, from the computer he had with him, he could monitor the instruments managing operations there and see, for instance, whether there was some fluctuation in the temperature of the kiln (which needs to operate at some 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.)
If an old-line family business in Mexico could benefit greatly from a dashboard more than 25 years ago, why not agents and brokers everywhere in today's digital world?
We seem to be getting there.
I chatted with Yamini Bhat, founder and CEO of Vymo, which just raised $22 million in Series C funding for its software that helps sales teams in financial services improve their productivity. The software does a lot more than show green, yellow and red lights. It helps agents manage their schedules and prompts them, for instance, on best practices about when to approach clients about renewals and on when certain clients might be open to cross-selling or up-selling.
I think you'll find the interview illuminating, both about what's possible now and about where technology can take agents and brokers in years to come.