A data dashboard is an information management tool that visually tracks, analyses and displays key performance indicators (KPI), metrics and key data points to monitor the health of a business, department or specific process. They are customisable to meet the specific needs of a department and company. Behind the scenes, a dashboard connects to your files, attachments, services and API’s, but on the surface displays all this data in the form of tables, line charts, bar charts and gauges. A data dashboard is the most efficient way to track multiple data sources because it provides a central location for businesses to monitor and analyse performance. Real-time monitoring reduces the hours of analysing and long line of communication that previously challenged businesses.
Firstly, users need to know that dashboard definition is dependent on the role it plays within an organisation. Everyone uses data dashboards differently. Not all business dashboards serve the same purpose, which is why it’s important users understand what KPIs to track and why. This section will answer the following questions:
The best data dashboards answer important questions about your business. Unlike advanced business intelligence tools, dashboards are designed for quick analysis and informational awareness. The most common approach to designing a business dashboard is to build it using a question-answer format.
The business questions that a dashboard answers depends upon the industry, department, process and position. Analytical dashboards are typically designed to help decision makers, executives and senior leaders, establish targets, set goals and understand what and why something happened with the same information they can use to implement appropriate changes. An analytical dashboard does this based on insights from data collected over a period of time determined by the user (i.e. last month, quarter or year).
Dashboards present interactive data visualisations
Data is visualised on a dashboard as tables, line charts, bar charts and gauges so that users can track the health of their business against benchmarks and goals. Data dashboards bring to the surface all the necessary data to understand, monitor and improve your business through visual representations. Depending on how you decide to design your dashboard, even straightforward numerical data can be visually informative by utilising intuitive symbols, such as a red triangle facing downward to indicate a drop in revenue or a green triangle facing up to indicate an increase in website traffic.
How are data dashboards used in business intelligence and analytics?
According to Wikipedia: “Analytics is the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Especially valuable in areas rich with recorded information, analytics relies on the simultaneous application of statistics,computer programming and operations research to quantify performance. Analytics often favors data visualisation to communicate insight.”
Dashboards are a data visualisation tool that allow all users to understand the analytics that matter to their business, department or project. Even for non-technical users, dashboards allow them to participate and understand the analytics process by compiling data and visualising trends and occurrences. Data dashboards provide an objective view of performance metrics and serve as an effective foundation for further dialogue. A dashboard is a business intelligence tool used to display data visualisations in a way that is immediately understood.
Most businesses use multiple services to track KPIs and metrics, which takes up time and resources to properly monitor and analyse. Dashboards use raw data from these sources, spreadsheets and databases to create tables, line charts, bar charts and gauges in a central dashboard that users can look at and immediately understand the key metrics they are looking for. Data dashboards simplify end of month reporting by allowing users to communicate information at any time without hours of preparation and analysing.
Monitor multiple KPIs and metrics at once
Changes to any aspect of a business, whether it be in marketing, sales, support, or finance, has an impact on the business as a whole. People have been monitoring their businesses without dashboards for ages, data dashboards make it a heck of a lot easier. With dashboards, users are able to dig deeper into the big picture to correlate this impact alongside specific KPIs and metrics to understand what works and what doesn’t. Whether your businesses data is stored on a web service, attachment or API, a dashboard pulls this information and allows you to monitor all your data in one central location. Additionally, dashboards are capable of correlating data from different sources in a single visualisation if the user so chooses. By monitoring multiple KPIs and metrics on one central dashboard, users can make adjustments to their business practices in real time.
Easy to read
Dashboards display KPIs and metrics using visualisations like tables, line charts, bar charts and gauges. Effective dashboard design utilises colors, symbols and visualisations to highlight important data points This allows users to quickly scan a dashboard and get the information they need without sifting through spreadsheets, emails, or signing into a web service. Data dashboards are useful because they visualise information in a way that is accessible to everyone. Even if you don’t work in marketing, eg, you can understand their numbers. This is key: You do not have to be an analyst to use and understand a data dashboard.
Cloud Accessibility – Share your dashboard with everyone
A dashboard keeps every member of a business on the same page. Users can share dashboards in real-time and periodically. Dashboards bring a business’s data to the cloud, making key metrics and KPIs accessible to your entire time on desktop, mobile and tablet. There are a number of ways to share data dashboards: on wallboard tv’s, email reports, printable reports or direct access. Users can create a public link to their dashboard which gives anyone access, or through private link that allows only those with the link to access your data. It has become increasingly popular to display dashboards on wallboard tv’s in offices as a way to keep everyone on the same page about performance and objectives. Data dashboards are becoming increasingly common because they allow for virtual work environments and make it easier for teams to collaborate.
Dashboards make reporting more efficient
Data dashboards save time. Users no longer need to go to multiple, disconnected, sources to track their data. Getting the data, creating a spreadsheet, generating and designing the report, and sharing it — dashboards do all this automatically. There are a number of reasons why reporting is typically done at the end of the month, one being because it takes up time and resources. All you need to do is invest a bit of time setting up your dashboard, which is peanuts compared to what a typical manual reporting will take. Dashboards can automatically generate reports with it’s data, at anytime, anywhere. No longer do users need to gather, analyse and format data. You can create PDF, email and live reports using a dashboard: choose the KPI you want to analyse, select your report format and present.
In addition, dashboards allow for constant communication between all levels of a business. Data dashboards can be accessed by as many users as a business chooses, so need to know information is at everyone’s fingertips. No longer do executives and managers need to request data from analysts. Analysts can work in the background to ensure a smooth operation, while users access this information whenever they want.
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