FAQ: What Are BI Dashboards?
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Professionals in a variety of industries may benefit from using business intelligence tools, including BI dashboards, to help them execute various tasks. BI dashboards can help individuals say organized and gain more in-depth information about a company's data or their individual performance. Understanding how to use this technique can allow professionals and stakeholders to create easy-to-use models and graphics to review details and figures related to a business.
In this article, we review what BI dashboards are, describe common features of these tools, discuss the benefits of using them and highlight best practices.
What are BI dashboards?
Business intelligence (BI) dashboards are tools that professionals can use to analyze their data and create a visual representation of the information. Individuals may use them to present an understandable data review to stakeholders or consumers and customize the information they want to highlight.
BI dashboards are an important aspect of an organization's business intelligence strategy and offer an accessible alternative to manual analysis using and gathering spreadsheets.
Individuals and organizations may decide to use this tool when dealing with complex details to provide an interactive alternative to static reports and allow viewers to create their own analysis from the information presented on a dashboard. Stakeholders can use BI dashboards to help draw conclusions and make important business decisions.
Cloud-based technology also allows users to update dashboards in real-time as events occur or new trends emerge, which can help provide stakeholders with a reliable performance overview. There are usually three primary types of dashboards:
Strategic dashboard: A strategic BI dashboard, also called an executive dashboard, allows users to develop a performance overview that can help stakeholders monitor the success of the company. These tools create a high-level performance summary and can help users forecast changes by using aggregate data to describe patterns and long-term trends.
Operational dashboard: You can use an operational dashboard to track day-to-day business events, processes and activities where data may change over time. They allow you to make decisions quickly based on the changes you identify and optimize performance based on current data and real-time information rather than data collected over weeks, months or years.
Analytical dashboard: An analytical dashboard allows end-users to review the finite details of their business data and perform root-cause analysis. Line managers and business analysts may use these tools because they typically include contextual data and comparative analysis, allowing professionals to analyze and monitor changes manually and perform advanced tasks.
Features of BI dashboards
When using a BI dashboard, you may use a variety of features to help the organization and dashboard users understand, share and analyze information. Although it may vary depending on the platform you use, these tools contain many of the same features, such as:
Viewer interactivity with data
Access from a web browser
Data integration in close to real time
Sharing capabilities that can encourage collaboration
Variety of standard dashboard templates
A brief overview rather than an in-depth analysis
Benefits of BI dashboards
There are several benefits you may notice when using a BI dashboard for your personal business or a large organization, including:
Making complex information approachable for a variety of audiences
BI dashboards can be beneficial for professionals in a variety of industries, because they can help make complex information and key performance metrics (KPIs) easy to understand. This allows individuals to simplify and share technical data with stakeholders who aren't technical experts and discuss important aspects of an organization with viewers who may not be familiar with its industry.
Self-service business intelligence tools can empower non-technical professionals to engage with the information and form their own analyses and conclusions. For example, restaurant executives can use dashboards to unify data across an organization's various locations and streamline data analysis across the company.
Identifying business-related trends
BI dashboards can help you review data to identify and analyze trends. You can use this information to create business and performance forecasts. Dashboards can help you highlight positive trends and isolate negative patterns to review which business processes and operations are most effective at gaining brand awareness, revenue and profit.
This information can help provide predictive insights for various elements of an organization, including customer satisfaction, sales performance and the success of marketing campaigns. For example, organizational leaders can encourage individual company locations to create and track their own dashboards to manage performance and review customer satisfaction without requiring the use of formal reports or spreadsheets.
Organizing operational data
You may also use a BI dashboard to organize operational data into a format that's well-managed and easy to track. These tools can communicate high-level insights and metrics, including anomalies or issues, and can help end-users recognize these events and improve them if necessary. Here are some examples of the operational data you may feature on a BI dashboard:
KPIs: You may want to review KPIs because they can provide you with quantifiable insights related to business performance and growth. BI dashboards may highlight a variety of useful KPIs, such as net profit margin, operational cash flow, gross profit margin, inventory turnover and growth in revenue.
Metrics related to analytics: You can use a dashboard to review analytics metrics and consider how many customers the organization has gained or lost within the past year, the typical evaluation time per product and which products or services customers purchased together.
Other miscellaneous insights: Other miscellaneous insights can help you understand the performance and perception of your products, so they may be useful to include on a BI dashboard. These may include customer demographics, including age or gender, or the time of year, week or day when clients consistently make the most purchases.
Visualizing complicated relationships in a way that's easy to understand
Rather than relying on spreadsheets or static reports, BI dashboards can provide end-users with a dynamic and interactive approach to visualizing complex relationships. They can allow you to perform basket analysis on sales, identify crucial success factors and highlight areas of the sales cycle that could benefit from improvement. This summary data is important to identify relationships within the data that indicate key components of growth and performance success. Some visual features of BI dashboards may include:
Cross tab filters
Time interval widgets
Custom chart tool tips
Dashboard chart filters
Best practices for BI dashboards
Here are some best practices for creating and using BI dashboards:
Customize the dashboard according to your target audience
When creating a BI dashboard to share with stakeholders, investors or other professionals, you may benefit from customizing it according to your target audience. Consider various factors including the data, content and usability of the business intelligence tool. For example, you may take an alternative approach when presenting technical data to professionals who are also in the tech industry compared to sharing that data with individuals who aren't tech experts.
Highlight actionable insights to assist with decision-making processes
One way to yield beneficial results from a BI dashboard is to highlight actionable insights and ensure that the visualization displays identify information that can help stakeholders make informed decisions. This means that it's important to help end-users understand what it means to meet a goal and act on it within the dashboard application.
For example, if an item or product required reordering, consider adding a feature to the dashboard, such as a button, that allows automatic reordering rather than requiring the end-user to leave the application, research the vendor and open another program to place the order.
Ensure that dashboard software is accessible to all end users
While it's important for tech-experts and members of upper management to understand the information featured on a BI dashboard, it's also valuable to ensure that the dashboard software is accessible to all potential end users. This means that you may benefit from including software that all decision makers can gain insights from and use to draw business-related conclusions. For example, dashboards may streamline processes and make individuals' roles easier whether they're in the finance department, human resource personnel, warehouse managers or part of the sales force team.
Make a dashboard that's focused and business-driven
You may benefit from creating a dashboard that's business-driven and focused, which you can do by considering the purpose and goals you hope to achieve by using this business intelligence tool. You can reflect on the type of information you hope to highlight and make accessible within the dashboard, and why it's important.
Try to be as specific as you can, and create a clear outline of your intentions and objectives. This can help you stay committed and maintain a dashboard that's organized and clear, saving you and other end-users time and energy when looking for data or metric insights.
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