How Companies Are Using Dashboards

This is a continuation of a transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft entitled "Designing a Good Dashboard." The speaker is Mark Flaherty, CMO at InetSoft.

Attendee: Are you noticing any change in how companies are using dashboards?

Mark Flaherty (MF): One interesting application of dashboards is displaying them on wall-mounted LCD’s such as in company lobbies or other private areas that employees walk by a lot. They really can draw attention to the KPIs that matter to a company and keep people focused on doing things that affect them. So they are not just seen on the desktop any more. Some companies project their KPI on the wall in a prominent location.

There are also some interesting productivity enhancing applications for dashboards. Take for instance, in hospitals, you have wall-mounted dashboard displays showing the status of cleaned rooms in the ER, because they have such a high pressure to turn rooms around to get next productivity.

These applications reflect the idea that the purpose of dashboards is not technology-drive, it’s adoption-driven. What gets look at, gets attention. It’s as simple as that. It’s a natural outcome to see improvements in these metrics.

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Improvement at the Operation Level

No matter what you tracking, what context it is, whether it’s a warehouse or a factory, you start seeing improvement by the people are responsible for the job the operation level. They realize what they are doing has direct impact on that metric that they see displayed on the wall each day. It speaks to the internal competitive drive people have and how much they enjoy scorekeeping and seeing the results of their efforts. The more public, the better.

Another key development in dashboards is alerting. Users can create proactive alerts for when this metric exceeds a threshold, send them an email or send an entire group an email. That’s become an essential part of successful dashboards.

How complex or simple should dashboards be?

In general dashboard should be simple. But the truth is matter is that people really don’t know what they want until the end. With data mashup, you can be flexible and deal with that inevitability. Start by giving them a general dashboard that meets what they said they wanted initially. But also give them the ability for them to modify it or create dashboards on their own, as well. So you get best of both worlds. They get the KPIs that they are really interested in, but also give them the ability to create on mashups. If they do change their mind, it’s there for them to go ahead and create their dashboard personalized for them.

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