BI Dashboard

A bi dashboard is a good way to extend data from a warehouse to end users. Here, we’ll review a basic overview of this tool.Over the last couple of years, many bi companies are renewing their emphasis on visualization, and dashboards in particular. Several companies have popped up that are geared directly toward this type of BI, rather than basic reporting, OLAP and other functionality. Vendors such as Tableau and Qlikview have focused almost exclusively on this type of work. All of the big providers have dashboarding abilities built in.

Many organizations push for these as a way to display data in a more user friendly format. While basic Excel spreadsheets and tabled grids are the standard at many places, they are fairly boring, can be hard to read, and are generally not interactive. A dashboard can provide a better way to distribute data to end users so they can make quicker and easier interpretations of the data. They can be accessed with varying types of technology, from desktop software, to websites, to mobile devices like iPads and iPhones.

The technology overall has been in flux, and there are differing ideas between companies. Some are de-emphasizing Flash, for example, in turn for HTML5. Others are pushing for mobile platforms, focusing on Apple or Android ecosystems.

Unfortunately, many dashboards are designed with poor regard for the placement, types of visuals, or the amount of data that is shown. This makes them often times hard to use, too slow, or too misleading to be effective. Effective layout and design is essential. Here are a couple of good resources for dashboard design out on the web:

Stephen Few ‘s Blog - Few is a definite subject matter expert and has a lot of material on the theories behind design. His book is a good first step in learning the process.

Dashboard Spy - A nice resource for looking at examples and technology being used in the field.

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