Building great IoT reports in DevicePilot

By Pilgrim - December 10, 2019

The number of new deployments, the rise in customer use, a fall in product faults … these are the kind of metrics you’ll need to gather to run your connected-product business. With DevicePilot's live analysis you can simply create these metrics as KPIs, build them into one or more dashboards, then invite your work colleagues to the account to see the live numbers for themselves any time they want. You can even show them live in meetings and display them live on a big screen in your office foyer for all to see.

But sometimes you just want a static “report”: a snapshot in time, something you can email to a colleague, include in other reports ... or if necessary actually print out onto paper.

Reality vs. expectation

Generally when we are reporting we want to provide some context - how does the result compare with what we were expecting?

Perhaps the simplest way to do this is to set the expected minimum and maximum values, so that all values are reported relative to a fixed scale which implies what's expected. Do this by setting the "Y axis scale".

Another technique is to colour a KPI using "traffic lights" (Red, Amber, Green or RAG), setting the thresholds appropriately - perhaps Green for fine, Amber for warning, and Red for a problem. You can do this for any numeric metric (averages, counts, percentage-of-time-where, etc.). And this works for all chart types including bar charts and meters.  

coloured bars rag        meters rag

Note that you can also "reverse" the sense of the colours, as sometimes a large number is bad (energy use, as shown on the left hand bar chart) but sometimes a large number is good (user engagement or unit sales as shown on the right hand meters).

Moving targets

The above approach works well when you are able to set targets based on long experience, but often metrics change day by day or week by week, driven by externalities which might be predictable (trends in sales figures, holidays, weather) or not (volcanic eruptions), making it hard to define up-front what "normal" looks like.

In this case, it can be useful simply to compare a given time period with the previous period. For example, if we compare this week's day-by-day figures with the previous week's figures, we might expect this to take care of any weekly cycles and show us where our business is going.

SxS-2

To achieve this, when you are creating or modifying a KPI, select “Group by Time” using a period such as a week (and no other grouping), then note that an option appears bottom left which allows you to compare e.g. this week with last, as shown above.

Note also that at the top you can now also choose to display changes relative to the last period's performance.

Printing

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a “hard copy” which acts as a permanent record.  In these days of saving the planet, increasingly this doesn't actually need to be a physical piece of dead wood but may for example be a PDF, which might in turn be bundled into other reports, such as quarterly or annual reports. Clearly just taking a snapshot of one or more dashboards is one way to achieve this, although the aspect ratio of the printed page (e.g. Letter or A4) may not match that of the screen, and screen resolution is much poorer than print resolution. Because of this, as anyone who has ever tried to print out an email will know, what you want to see on paper isn't necessarily exactly what you see on the screen.

DevicePilot handles this by adjusting to a special "print" mode when it detects that you're printing (e.g. ctrl+P or command+P). The widgets on a dashboard are each displayed on their own line in the print-out, and prevented from splitting across pages. You can then choose the print destination using your browser's print dialogue (e.g. a physical printer, or a PDF file), and if necessary also adjust the Zoom level to change how many widgets appear on each page.

report dashboardThe live dashboard

report printed
The same data as a static report, "printed" into a 2-page PDF file

The resolution of the resulting document will be much higher too:

print vs screen resolution

 

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Erik Fairbairn, CEO at POD Point:
Achieved 99% uptime across device estate

"We're totally data driven at POD Point, and if we can answer a question using data then we think that’s the best way - there’s no guesswork and you can use the facts.

Our DevicePilot dashboards have really let us get that actionable insight out of our devices."