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Reaping the Benefits of Next-generation Dashboards
Dashboards is also known as :
Get Fast Excel Dashboards,
Easy Excel Dashboards,
Dashboards Business Intelligence,
Excel File Dashboards,
Use Excel to Make BI Dashboards,
Dashboards Management Information Systems,
Dashboards by Example,
Excel Dashboard Reports,
Dashboard Reports Allow,
Dashboard Builder Provides Visibility,
Dashboards Provide Immediate Insight,
Complete Reporting and Dashboard Solution,
Dashboards BI Dashboard Software,
Create Dashboards on Desktop,
Free Dashboards Samples,
Sales Force Automation Dashboards,
Dashboards Provide Employees,
Fourth Generation Dashboards.
The need for timely and succinct business intelligence (BI)
continues to grow as executives demand critical information
to seize opportunities faster than competitors and to address
potential problems in the making.
But increasingly, it is not just C-level executives and upper
management who need access to business intelligence.
Business unit managers and rank-and-file personnel
increasingly must also have updated information to do their
And in every case, users of business intelligence solutions
desire a flexible and intuitive method for assimilating
information without manually gathering data. The delivery
mechanism must provide transparent connectivity
and security to users, while presenting an easy to use
interface for navigating and consuming information. These
requirements are driving the demand for a new generation
of BI solutions.
Next generation dashboards:
- align business process with live data to
provide business intelligence at all levels of
- use intuitive and easy to digest visuals for
delivering information to busy executives
- visualize and navigate timely and accurate
A Need to Overcome Inflexibility
The old approaches for collecting, assimilating, and
delivering BI information have not kept pace with today's
increasing demand for rapid decision-making and flexible
information access requirements.
A majority of organizations leverage static reports and adhoc
queries as primary methods for delivering business
intelligence information, according to a 2007 CIO Insight
survey of 215 senior business managers. These methods
were found to be in use, respectively, by 81 percent and
67 percent of the managers in companies with revenues
of $500 million or more. While a smaller percentage of
organizations use dashboards and portals (62 percent and
48 percent, respectively), most implementations of these
tools lack the interactivity required for intuitive navigation
and visualization of business data.
Additionally, as information requirements and user demands
increase, traditional BI solutions present obstacles and
limitations that slow an organization's ability to integrate
business processes and strategy. In turn, this can hamper
intelligent decision making in organizations today.
A major challenge for organizations is the gap that some
BI applications widen between IT and the business unit.
While communication is difficult enough, some tools
can also hinder what should be a collaborative process
between business users, stakeholders, and developers who
implement BI solutions. The inflexibility of many BI tools can
lead to deployed solutions that still fall short of business
users' expectations for addressing business problems. A
careful implementation of technology that properly aligns to
business process or strategy is critical to the success, yet can
easily be compromised based on technology choices
An additional challenge of collecting and "mashing" data
from multiple disparate systems can present obstacles,
slowing a business users' ability to make critical business
decisions. For example, past BI efforts typically included
information from a centrally maintained enterprise database,
as well as data from enterprise resource management, sales
force automation, and supply chain management systems.
As organizations outsource functions like marketing, product
design, customer service, and others tasks to third parties,
still more data must be culled from these sources to make
business decisions. While the emergence of web services and
APIs have provided great progress for accessing data from
these additional sources, coupling this valuable information
into a single integrated interface remains a barrier for
successful BI applications.
Even with the correct data and development process,
typical BI applications designed for business users are rarely
adopted because of the extended learning curve attributed
to user interface complexity, lack of customization, or poor
Solution: next generation das hboards
Faced with these challenges, organizations demand
integrated and flexible business intelligence solutions
that facilitate more timely and informed decisions. Next
generation dashboards will solve these challenges, by
introducing a robust entry point into business intelligence at
all levels within an organization.
The next generation of dashboards must:
Be easy to build and customize: While traditional
dashboard projects required great amounts of custom
coding, the next generation of dashboards empower non-
IT professionals to design and connect business data to a
dashboard interface. This approach bridges the gap between
IT and business intelligence users, allowing stakeholders
to become proactive in the design process. Dashboard
technology should be flexible, allowing an unlimited
combination of controls for analyzing and navigating
The next generation of dashboards must:
Provide a consolidated view from any data source:
Dashboards are only as useful as the data they present
to the user. The next generation of dashboards leverages
technology that can not only consume proprietary data
sources, but also enable web service and XML standards for
a seamless "mash-up" of data from most data sources. For
years, a challenge with many dashboard initiatives has been
the difficulty getting the needed data from the requisite
mission-critical applications, including database, enterprise
resource management, customer relationship management,
and others. Senior managers in a 2007 Baseline Magazine
survey noted that this issue was an obstacle to deploying
BI tools. Specifically, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the
managers said integration and interoperability with other
systems such as ERP and CRM posed a problem for them.
Leverage visualization to make information easy to
consume: In today's fast-paced business world, users'
needs are immediate, so dashboards must provide data
visualization in a way that makes sense for each individual.
Dashboards now embrace common data visualization
techniques and charts that facilitate rapid information
assimilation, leading to new insight and faster decisions.
In addition to robust data visualization, next generation
dashboards provide methods to visually alert a user when
performance indicators are out of tolerance, then enable the
exploration of details with point and click simplicity.
Offer engaging interactivity for further analysis:
While BI solutions' provide significant improvements over
manually culling the information from multiple sources,
the next generation dashboards extend additional utility
with interactivity. Such dashboards facilitate information
exploration and allow users to more easily navigate
information, again, with point and click ease. Whether
clicking on a chart data point, or a simple toolbar, users
can effortlessly filter, sort, and drill through information.
Dashboards that incorporate what-if analysis enable an
additional layer of intelligence, leading to more informed
decisions. In scenarios where further analysis is required,
dashboards should funnel business users to supporting
reports or analysis tools, allowing for quick discovery of
detailed information required to answer the business
question at hand.
An example of this interactivity is a sales dashboard for a
territory manager. A next generation dashboard enables this
manager to view and navigate his territory's performance
to figure out which regions he should focus on for the
week. While filtering sales figures by region, the manager
can quickly click on a region and drill into the opportunity
pipeline. Using what if analysis, the manager can calculate
how closing opportunities will affect sales figures for the
quarter. Furthermore, the manager can then click in the
dashboard to launch a detailed report f showing contextual
information from the CRM system.. This entire solution is
enabled with point and click interactivity achieved only with
next generation dashboards.
Provide the information in a personalized and easy to
understand format: Most users (58 percent) misunderstand
or ignore data produced by BI tools because they don't know
how to analyze it, according to a 2007 CIO Insight survey.
Users want to be able to understand the information they
are looking at in a bite-sized, easy to consume format. The
next generation of dashboards can provide personalized
data formatted and aligned to the business, alleviating
any manual work for users to obtain valuable information.
Combining data visualization and navigation controls with
personalized data can provide effective and efficient analysis
Allow developers to extend new features or integrate
new to technology: Dashboards may not provide out
of the box features that address every requirement for
every industry. With a strong technology foundation and
a flexible SDK, the next generation dashboards should
allow developers and third party vendors to easily extend
or integrate new features, controls, or data sources into the
Benefits of Usin g Next Generation
The reasons for using business intelligence can vary greatly,
even within a single organization. Notably, C-level executives
use business intelligence to improve processes, ensure
compliance, optimize marketing efforts, and increase sales.
And department managers can use the information to
improve their operations and monitor the performance of
According to a 2007 Baseline Magazine article, managers
cite three priorities to accomplish these goals. They are:
improving information quality, improving the ability to use
information, and offering more kinds of information to more
These are all areas where next generation dashboards can
play a major role, as we've discussed.
Next generation dashboards allow for the alignment of
business process with rapid information assimilation.
As IT and business stakeholders collaborate to implement
dashboards, the result is a valuable tool that is properly
aligned to business process while presenting an accurate
view of the most current performance statistics. With an
accurate representation of critical performance indicators
and trends, next generation dashboards should increase a
business user's ability to quickly reach the thought plateau
required to solve business problems.
That was the case for Metarom, a French manufacturer of
food flavoring products. Before using its new BI solution,
managers would receive information about sales in a report
at the end of each month. When the company implemented
a next generation BI solution to tracks sales, managers used
information delivered via a dashboard to monitor customer
turnover and sales by product. This helped them see which
products were selling well at any time. Additionally, when
a large order arrived, managers could see its impact on
margins immediately and coordinate supplies and human
Next generation dashboards deliver timely and accurate
information. As a dashboard automatically retrieves the
latest information available from critical systems, business
users can make better decisions with confidence. Next
generation dashboards facilitate an integrated solution that
couples a rich user experience with live data connectivity.
The resulting dashboards provide significant time savings
from manually gathering data and are immune to user error
that might occur during this process.
This was a critical issue that was resolved for the Georgia
Department of Transportation when they deployed new BI
technology with next generation dashboards. They found
one of the main benefits was that, "People are more aware
that the information they're looking at is accurate and up-todate"
so they can make decisions with confidence."
Next generation dashboards can improve operations by
delivering information to more people. Currently, as few as
20 percent of workers who could use BI tools take advantage
of them, according to a 2007 Baseline Magazine article. Next
generation dashboards will empower the other 80 percent of
an organization to access business intelligence leading to a
more informed and proactive workforce to take action.
Citing third-party research, a 2008 CIO Insight article
noted that about two-thirds of organizations consider it
very important to make BI technology accessible to all
operational users, who are otherwise working primarily with
spreadsheets or more primitive reporting and data access
tools. Next generation dashboards integrate a user friendly
approach into business intelligence using rich, interactive
controls that integrate into web-based portals and in some
cases even desktop tools including PowerPoint, Word,
Excel, and PDF files. Though the technology is flexile to how
the business users' work, the underlying technology still
seamlessly connects to secured data sources managed by IT.
Letting users make use of the dashboard information
with their common office tools is a critical aspect when it
comes to BI tool usage. Essentially, new dashboards can
be deployed to more people because they are easy to use,
can be implemented quickly, and are focused on business
processes, thus leading to higher user adoption.
Dashboards that are integrated with a trusted BI
infrastructure allow organizations to have a consolidated
view of business performance using easy to interpret
dashboards; while solving data integration, data quality, and
performance problems from a central hub. The end result
is a consolidated view of business performance in easy to
interpret dashboards, allowing users to confidently make
Today's competitive and fast-paced business environment
requires that more people have access to real-time
performance and status information, so that they can make
quick and intelligent decisions.