This article will discuss what a business intelligence dashboard is, some of its benefits for small business owners and some of the difficulties dashboards face for large scale adoption among small to medium enterprises.
What is a business intelligence dashboard?
A business intelligence dashboard at its most basic is a piece of software that displays important information about your business in real time. A dashboard system automatically processes data from your business’s major systems (e.g. point of sales systems, customer relationship management software, accounting software, staff rostering software etc) and presents that data securely to you in a visual format in real time.
On business intelligence dashboards the metrics that may be displayed can vary greatly from business to business as it depends on the owners/managements needs and the available outputs from their internal systems (Where the dashboard gets all its data from). Some metrics that may be displayed might be sales (daily/weekly/monthly comparisons), number of sales (by department or store and or comparisons), revenue, net profit, gross profit, costs, transactions per staff or countless others.
Below you can find a generic example of what a business intelligence dashboard may look:
What are the benefits of having a business intelligence dashboard?
A professionally constructed and implemented dashboard can be a very powerful tool for owners and management to monitor and improve their businesses. Just three of the major benefits of operating a business intelligence dashboard are:
1) Information Accessibility: A dashboard consolidates a large proportion of meaningful data that businesses produce. A dashboard makes the collection and aggregation of the data easy often displaying multiple systems worth of data in one to two pages using graphs and tables. The process of analysing data which may have taken days or weeks to gather and analyse before can be done in real time, as often as business operators would like from either their computer or mobile devices via the internet.
2) Business Improvement: A dashboard makes business improvement and strategic planning easy as it places all the information managers need right on their computer monitor or mobile phone. A dashboard provides all the analytic and comparative data needed to improve and review business practices. Without data a business can’t improve itself, a dashboard supplies the data needed in an easily accessed and reviewed manner.
3) Reduced Administration Time: A dashboard reduces the need for staff or managers to store, aggregate and analyse data that the business generates. Gone are the days of generating countless reports or creating complicated Excel analysis matrixes. The dashboard automatically processes the data directly from business systems and presents it in a ready to use format.
These are only some of the many benefits of a sophisticated business intelligence dashboard; other tangible benefits may include: Modernisation of record keeping systems, employee performance improvement, visual goal tracking, comparative analysis, data that is mentally easier to process.
What are some difficulties with implementing a dashboard?
There are always difficulties when implementing a new technology into a business, the two major difficulties for business intelligence dashboards are the selection of the dashboard’s metrics and of course the construction of the dashboard.
1) Metrics Selection: A dashboard being an informational tool is only as effective as the information it is told to display. What this means is that business owners and developers have to be thoughtful and informed about what are the “key” business metrics for your business and also what are the underlying metrics for those key data sets. For example, if a key metric for your travel agency is sales then important underlying metrics that might need to be displayed could be number of leads produced/used, quotes/invoices sent, uptake rate of quotes, sale closure rate and or average transaction value. What data your dashboard displays will vary greatly depending on your business industry and needs so it is something that should be thought about in detail prior to contracting a developer.
2) Dashboard Design: Building a dashboard is a sophisticated and detailed process which requires expert knowledge and superb technical skills. This is because a dashboard needs to not only gather all your important information automatically but also analyse and display it in real time. Luckily for business owners and managers there are some very capable business intelligence companies out there such as Resurg which can cater for their dashboard needs. If you are interested in possibly discussing or implementing a dashboard for your business check out our dashboard page and give us a call or email us.