What You Need to Know About Business Intelligence Dashboards


Many considerations go into making a solid business decision — one that positively affects performance in its intended way. Timeliness is a big one, as even the right decision at the wrong time can fall flat in its outcome. Another aspect is how well the data available supports the decision at hand, as companies are increasingly depending on data-driven choices to optimize performance.

Making data available and interpretable for decision-makers in a timely manner in turn depends on your company’s approach to business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform — specifically how quickly insights are available and in what format.

Business intelligence dashboards in particular are the interface between business users and complex data, which makes them an important link in your data strategy.

Here’s what your enterprise needs to know about business intelligence dashboards.

Modern BI Dashboards Offer Interactive Insights

Interactivity — or a lack thereof — is a big differentiator between modern analytics and legacy analytics systems. While the latter did allow users to customize which metrics display on which dashboards, the static nature of said dashboards limited users’ capabilities to drill down rather into charts and ask ad hoc follow-up questions. As R Magazine writes, when visualizations are interactive, they allow users to “firmly understand specific sets of data by going beyond what’s readily apparent.”

BI Dashboards Should Reflect Business Objectives

It’s easy to get swept up in the ease and convenience of creating dashboards to reflect every possible performance metric — but any truly effective business intelligence dashboard will address actual business objectives. This will help connect users with the data insights most relevant for solving problems and implementing improvements without causing them to get bogged down in too many peripheral metrics.

Here are a few helpful questions from SelectHub worth asking anytime an analytics user is going to design a dashboard:

  • Why is this dashboard necessary?
  • What business problem is it trying to explore/solve?
  • What are the key metrics to highlight?
  • What action can these particular insights drive?

When dashboards tie back to business goals and challenges, they tend to drive action; when dashboards are created for the sake of it, they may actually muddle people’s efforts to drive desired action by introducing “information overload.”

BI Dashboards Are Embeddable into Apps & Portals

In addition to timeliness and format of insights, the location of BI dashboards can help or hinder user adoption rates. The more disjointed any given analytics experience, the less likely people are to go the lengths to interact with insights and consider them when decisions are being made.

Embedded analytics addresses this challenge by positioning BI dashboards into business apps, company portals and workflow tools. This ability presents a few advantages, as outlined by Gartner:

  • Users can query data, create visualizations and access interactive dashboards without needing to switch interfaces — making for a smoother and more convenient user experience.
  • Specific analytics dashboards can be embedded into the apps and tools with which they most closely align — like marketing, sales, inventory/supply chain planning, financial tracking, etc. This maximizes the relevance of insights where they appear.

Getting the most from today’s enterprise BI dashboards is a matter of capitalizing on interactive and embedded analytics insights created for the purpose of addressing specific business objectives. In addition to ensuring users can glean timely insights and drill down further into data findings, placing these metrics in the most convenient and relevant location makes them easier to tie into decision-making processes.