modern company – even the smallest – benefit from business intelligence,
even if their managers aren't actually conscious of that. It has to
be realized that almost every tool which is being used for supporting
data spread across the company is simultaneously somehow connected with
business intelligence solutions. Whilst business intelligence might
be – as a whole – boiled down to supporting the process of transforming
data into information and, then, information into knowledge usable for
the company, in point of fact almost all tasks connected with data belong
to BI branch.
all business intelligence tools, dashboards are being paid most attention
to, these days. Even though a few years ago they were reserved solely
for managers of the largest companies, nowadays they're quite common.
What has changed? What has influenced on such an unexpected growth of
easiest it would be to say that dashboard implementing is now much cheaper
than ever before, but that's not the most important reason. Growth of
dashboards' functionality and quality was crucial, and the benefits
– which this article is about – also haven't been meaningless. Then...
what exactly decides on dashboards' current popularity? Probably, all
the benefits stated below.
Decision making process and company's performance aspect
Decision making aspect is vital for every company and doesn't actually requires
explaining. Managers have to make decisions as on them depends company's
performance and condition. The better decisions are, the better company
is doing, therefore executives do their best to provide decisive persons
with the best tools possible to support and facilitate their job. Due
to that, modern dashboards allow their end-users to:
- Identify negative
trends. Efficient management must consist of twofold aspects –
activating and stimulating positive trends, and reducing an influence
of negative ones. What's more, the second part seems even more important,
if not just crucial. Nevertheless, before thinking about positives,
managers should eliminate negative trends. And that's what dashboards
are perfect for.
- Correct negative
trends. Once the negative trends are recognized, localized, and
analyzed, comes the time for correcting them. Thank to modern dashboards,
eliminating negative trends is facilitated due to improved abilities
for modifying concrete factors on trend's route.
- Improve the efficiency
of newly-made decisions. Even though improving the efficiency of
deciding is the common goal for all business intelligence solutions,
every tool treat the question in a different way. Dashboards, for instance,
support decision making with better information, whilst “better”
means more timely and more accurate. As a result, “better-informed”
decisions are being made what influences on company's performance, obviously.
- Measure company's
parameters. It never is easy to measure company's real performance
or efficiency. Even if something looks good from the outside, in point
of fact it might be many times worse, but the external symptoms still
aren't visible. Deep analysis let managers react on company's inefficiencies
before it's too late to change anything significantly. It's indispensable
for minimizing presumptive losses and multiply demanded incomes.
- Improve performed analysis thank to visualization abilities. Pure data often is not
enough to identify and trace all the irregularities. What is not visible
in spreadsheets of values, might come out thank to graphic visualization
of analysis. Even though it may seem a bit strange or unprofessional,
it truly works, what managers bear out commonly. Modern dashboards support
therefore visual presenting of analysis concerning company's performance
- Determine the goals
and strategy as a whole. In today's management, there's no place
left for accidents or luck. Everything has to be perfect and – especially
– perfectly thought-out. Thereupon, most attention managers pay to
general strategy of the company, which is what all further decisions
will be based on. Modern dashboards – being somehow the first link
between manager and company data – have to facilitate not only inventing
a new strategy, but also controlling and improving the current one,
with a possibility for tracing the company's condition.
Dashboards' influence on employees' efficiency
might be thought that all company's efficiency and performance depend
mostly on managers and the strategy they have created. In fact, we should
take a look to another end of company's hierarchy chain, to concrete
employees as they're the base for all company's tasks. Thereupon, dashboards
– which even a few years ago were reserved for executives only –
are provided to larger groups of employees, including the usual ones.
With modern dashboards, they're allowed to:
- Increase their efficiency
and productivity thank to automation. It's been proved that dashboards
facilitate the work, what results in increased productivity as less
and less time remains needed to spend on collateral tasks. In most cases,
- Save time due to
reduced number of reports required. Even though a few years ago
separate reports were needed for each question, these days information
about diverse aspects is being concentrated in one, what results in
significant time reduction. Employees can therefore attach weight to
their real goals, not the collateral aspects like multiple reports,
for instance. Thank to dashboard, they might concentrate on what's truly
important for the company.
- Resign from static
reports. These days, static reports are thought to be a relic, more
and more often replaced with interactive reports which provide deeper
insight and clearer information. Modern dashboards support creating
new-fashioned reports so that employees no longer have to struggle with
sheets of tabular data which never is easily-understandable. New reports
are not only a matter of comfort, but also a matter of time and effort
what's also important in the case of company's performance.
- Quickly learn maintenance.
Whilst dashboards usually are intuitive, learning how to use them takes
a few whiles only, therefore employees do not get another problem put
on their shoulders.
Dashboards for employees' motivation
Every manager has to struggle with question how to improve his employees'
efficiency. There are plenty of methods, nonetheless all of them usually
demand some kind of concession. But... Is it possible to influence on
employees without giving them raises or shortening their workdays? In
point of fact, it's possible - with dashboards. What today's dashboards
offer to their users to improve their motivation? Thank to dashboards,
- Trace new trends
with detailed reports. Modern dashboards allow their users to concentrate
on newest, fresh trends which haven't already been investigated enough.
Thereupon, easily-creatable detailed reports support analyzing and rating
each of the new tendencies in the market or in company's performance,
- Concentrate on facts,
not form. For a few years, long time needed for preparing each report
was one of the most irritating disadvantages of business intelligence.
These days, thank to totally-new dashboards, users might concentrate
on what's truly important - on facts, report's content, not its form.
As preparing a clear and transparent report is a matter of a few clicks
these days, their form has lost its former meaning. It also impinges
on employees' motivation, as they no longer have to struggle with the
collateral things which they're not employed for.
- Grow their interest.
The longest time we need for something that bores us to death, nonetheless
sometimes every company requires its employees to do things they do
not actually like. For quite a lot of time, reporting was one of such
things. These days - thank to freshened approach to dashboards - obsolete
tabular reports have been replaced with innovative interactive dashboards.
Even if it was only a matter of design, it makes employees more interested
at what they do as they no longer have to struggle with spreadsheets
of tabular data.
- Easily understand strategy statements. Even the most complex strategy might become
easily-understandable if only it's presented in a transparent way. How
important it is to let all employees know the goals and statements of
company's strategy, realize all managers, therefore dashboards' transparency
is one of the aspects that most of attention is paid to. Thank to modern
solutions, sharing strategies and other crucial for the company data
with all employees is significantly facilitated.
Weaknesses of modern dashboards
On the other hand... Today's dashboards still are being developed, nonetheless a few disadvantages
still haven't been overpowered. Even though plenty of things have already
got changed (what influences on the difference between former and today's
dashboards), there still is quite a lot to demand and to improve. What
interrupts in trouble-free dashboards use, is:
- Quite a poor performance.
It's one of the most meaningful aspects as it's commonly-known that
time is money. Whilst every operation requires more than a half of minute,
accessing each data becomes a torture. Even though using a dashboard
still is more efficient than operating on multiple reports, performance
still requires significant improvements.
- Impeded access to
resources. It's been told that dashboards win with other business
intelligence solutions because of they're enabling single logging in
to access all the resources and subject applications. Unfortunately,
in some cases even today's dashboards require multiple logging what
significantly slows down the work.
- Unintuitive technology.
The technology used for dashboards - being brand-new and totally different
from already known solutions - is difficult to understand at the beginning.
There's a time needed to get used to it, even though - in some cases
- it might be impossible for older people whose connection with business
intelligence is longer.
- Cursoriness of user training. Connected directly with the point above, not paying attendtion to details during the end-users' training causes plenty of troubles during employees' everyday work with dashboards. If this got improved, numerous other disadvantages would also disappear.
- Standard and unattractive design. While considering human point of view on dashboards, their
design cannot be omitted. Even though it had to be placed on the other
end of scale than tabular reports, today's dashboards still might look
thousand times better what certainly would help customers stay focused
on their work. Up to know, design must be added to the list of aspects
that require improving.
- Difficulty with manual inputs of the data. When a user want to attach some supporting data
to a dashboard, he usually is constrained to do it manually.
- No data refreshed automatically. The same as in the case of inputting supporting data
- all changes must be provoked manually.
- Uselessness of multiple metrics. Dashboards' vendors haven't rather attached to much weight
to a choice of metrics crucial for companies provided with dashboards.
Thereupon, considered metrics often are not enough to answer question
immediately, requiring to create a few reports instead. Surprisingly,
it's something what dashboards had had to let their users avoid. The
unreasonable choice of metrics lengthens the time needed for making
proper decisions, after all.
- No business rules
and hierarchies for used metrics. With what was said above, the
choice of metrics for dashboards still is surprising. Nonetheless, these
which already are, remain devoid of any rule that regulates their proper
aggregating or calculating. Thereupon, every employee uses the metrics
in a way he wants, what results in diversification of reports form across
The uses of modern dashboards are innumerable, nonetheless there still is
a niche which dashboards could fulfill. Will it happen and - if yes
Probably when all the disadvantages stated above get eliminated.
Up to now, there are plenty of dashboards' benefits which are unattainable
for most companies. Lack of precise and reliable training results in
a need for discovering every dashboard's option personally what - in
a consequence - results in lengthened time required for doing sometimes
the simplest tasks.
all odds, dashboards still are considered as a real revolution in business
intelligence solution. Their idea (concentrating all data, parameters
and abilities at one place) certainly is worth-considering, nonetheless
- as it still is quite a new invention - needs working-out. There are
a lot of benefits which introduce a totally new dimension to business
intelligence, but their use remains restrained. Fortunately, it's rather
a matter of a few facilitations to free all dashboards' benefits. And
- as it's already been mentioned - proper user training should be the
thing to begin with. If users knew exactly what and how to do with dashboards,
their work would become significantly easier.