I had an interesting conversation with someone at a trade show recently. The question revolved around the difference between “Reporting” and “Dashboards”. Having been in this space for a while, it was not the first time I have heard this of course. The analogy that came to mind though was fresh and I believe it really sums things up.
If you are driving in your car and you want to check your speed, do you want to reach into the glove box and pull out a report with all the numbers that may be calculated and used to determine the speed of the car or would you rather look down at a visual indicator that has a number or line over a number?
The answer is obvious for most. This is really the difference between dashboards and reports. Reports should be focused on lots of information around a particular metric or set of metrics. Dashboards should give a quick snapshot of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you are interested in at the time, usually something important to do with what you do for a living.
To use the stop light analogy, if the lights are green, go sell widgets, build a house or whatever you do for a living. If you see a red light, drilldown to get to the root of the problem.
With dashboards, in most cases, less is better.
Dave Ferguson, iDashboards