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Ashley McKown Enterprise Account Manager @iDashboards

Ashley McKown provides strategic direction and successful dashboard implementations to educational institutions as well as state and local government entities across the U.S. Prior to joining iDashboards, she studied abroad in China and Japan, and remains an avid world traveler.

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In today’s big data-driven environment, business dashboards generate a lot of buzz. You’re probably wondering what is the purpose of a dashboard and if it makes sense for your business to use one. Whether you’re a large corporation or a startup company, there are many ways you can incorporate dashboards in your organization.

Businesses actually adopted the term “dashboard” from automobiles. In many ways, it is used same. There are hundreds of moving parts in your business that impact your overall performance. A business dashboard summarizes these events with easy-to-understand, real-time  data visuals. For cars, you can immediately see how fast you are traveling, how much fuel you have in your tank and more. It even provides a “Check Engine” symbol as a warning when there’s something wrong with the engine.

Purpose of a dashboard, business dashboard

In much the same way, the purpose of a dashboard is to provide real-time results by aggregating and extracting value from all the data you collect, otherwise known as your key performance indicators (KPIs). It simplifies your data into more manageable chunks of visual information that allows you to see what you are doing right and where you need to improve. When utilized properly, dashboards can help you make informed decisions that can dramatically impact business performance – which in turn effects your bottom line.

The purpose of a #dashboard is to provide real-time results by aggregating and extracting value… Click To Tweet

There are two basic types of business dashboards:

  • Analytical – typically these help executives and senior leaders establish targets and goals from data collected over a period of time, whether over the past month, quarter or year. This helps decision makers understand what happened, why and how to implement change for better results.
  • Operational – these allow employees to monitor KPIs and other current performance metrics to immediately see the impact of certain campaigns or identify potential operational issues.

So what does this really mean to you? If applied properly, business dashboards can serve many purposes throughout your organization and you’ll reap benefits including:

  1. Data transparency – Data is any company’s most important asset. However, it doesn’t do much good if no one can understand or access it. A well designed dashboard provides on-demand access of all core metrics inter-departmentally.
  2. Access to data – As the name implies, a dashboard gathers multiple data sources including Excel into a single interface. That means you can immediately see a detailed overview of your business in one quick glance. Even better yet, it reduces the amount of time it takes to compile reports, saving you time.
  3. Better decision making – Dashboards provide an unbiased view not only of the company’s performance overall but each department as well. If each department is able to access the dashboard, it can offer a foundation for further dialogue and great decision making. For example, the sales and marketing department can align themselves together for more customer acquisitions and better demand generation. Business dashboards provide a good starting point for these decisions.
  4. Accountability – While it’s always nice to see what you’re doing right, you also need to see and understand what you’re doing wrong in order to increase your performance. Business dashboards can show you exactly where your trouble areas are and arm you with the information you need to improve. Also by making the dashboards visible throughout the company, it holds different departments accountable for both the ups and downs.
  5. Interactivity – Some of the best dashboards – like the ones iDashboards offers – provide a dynamic experience. Rather than providing static information, you and your users can filter data, interact with charts to see changes over time and even allow for an ad-hoc component for on-the-fly. That means you can get as much or as little detail on specific metrics as you want.
  6. Gamification – Your metrics, whether traffic to your website or products sold, are the key numbers you want to continuously improve. The top businesses have managed to gamify certain business metrics to increase the likelihood of customer retention. If you’re considering gamification, business dashboards can track the success of your efforts.

Almost every business can benefit from having a dashboard. Large organizations, like University North Dakota, should even consider multiple dashboards for different departments to keep track of internal and external KPIs. You might be wondering if you really need a dashboard for your business. Here are four signs it might be time for your company to at least try one out:

  1. You feel like your company can improve, but you have no idea how to or where to start.
  2. You’re monitoring and tracking data, but you don’t know what to do with the information or how to make sense of it.
  3. Your current solutions aren’t giving you the ROI you need.
  4. You are lagging behind your competitors.
  5. You’re struggling to see all of your data in one location in need a data hub.

If you can relate to any one of these five, it might be good to invest in a dashboard solution.  Now that you know what the purpose of a dashboard is, you can try it out. Start building your own dashboards here for free. 

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