When you hear “post-business intelligence dashboard era,” your first instinct is probably to say something along the lines of: “But my company still uses dashboards every day!” Rather than meaning dashboards altogether are obsolete, this phrase actually means that enterprises have moved beyond the static BI dashboards of past years.
Here’s more on what it takes for a BI dashboard to keep up in today’s world.
Limitations of Static Business Intelligence Dashboard Dashboards
Here are some of the key limitations enterprises face when they depend on static BI dashboards to fuel stakeholder decision-making.
Providing Preset Metrics
Static dashboards can provide a general overview of performance at a glance — but they often leave viewers with more questions than before. Even with the ability to create dashboards based on key performance indicators (KPIs), whatever metrics a team or company has deemed most relevant to their business goals, many dashboards end up conveying the big picture while lacking the nitty-gritty customizability it would require to show more nuanced insights over time.
Lacking Useful Business Context
One danger of displaying metrics on a dashboard without the accompanying power for users to drill down and zoom out as needed is stripping insights of useful business context — context that is essential for making sound decisions.
Case in point: Static dashboards can inadvertently cause users to attribute causality where there is none. Harvard Business Review outlines a case where a manager at an order fulfillment company sees a graph showing higher accident rates among drivers with upgraded GPS systems in their vehicles. Was more advanced GPS causing more accidents? Should the company halt these GPS upgrades immediately?
Only with the ability to delve down further into data and look at accident rates by the skill levels of drivers could the truth emerge: The most collision-prone drivers upgraded their GPS tech at higher rates than drivers with few or no accidents on their records. So, it wasn’t a matter of the technology causing accidents as it appeared at first glance; it was a matter of who was utilizing the upgraded GPS technology affecting the data outcomes.
Prioritizing Insight Quantity Over Quality
At face value it makes sense that more insights would provide more information handy for making informed decisions. But the result of continuing to add more charts to a dashboard can unfortunately have the opposite effect — cluttering up the interface and obscuring the most important KPIs in a mass of colors, shapes and types of graphs. In other words, dashboards can easily encourage tracking more metrics than is actually conducive for quality decision-making.
Characteristics of Advanced BI Dashboards
How are the advanced business intelligence dashboards available today different than the static dashboards just described?
- Drill down: A game-changer for the functionality of BI dashboards is whether or not users are able to click to zoom in and out on data. Interactive charts allow users to gather important context and ask questions beyond what is available at first glance.
- Flexible creation and integration: Gone are the days of waiting for administrators to edit and publish centralized dashboards. Now users across an ecosystem can create and share dashboards as needed, helping ensure they are tailored to the specific needs of the decision-makers relying upon them. Embeddability puts them directly into shared workflows, making them highly visible and convenient.
- Meets changing business needs: Given how quickly business moves today, it’s unrealistic to anticipate goals staying the same over time. Advanced BI dashboards can reflect the most recent iterations of business objectives and challenges, ensuring they stay continually relevant over time.
The modern BI dashboard must prioritize flexibility, personalization and collaboration. Ultimately, it provides the business context necessary to help users make well-rounded decisions and reflects the latest company goals and challenges.