Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization
While many organizations today understand and value the concept of business intelligence (BI) and dashboards and scorecards, they are often unprepared for the costs and complexities of deploying them. Moreover, dashboards are still in their infancy and continue to utilize presentation devices that were developed for paper. This E-Guide uncovers the future of BI technology, dashboards and data visualization as well as presents a survey that outlines the top challenges facing BI and data management professional this year. Read this E-Guide and learn how improvements in data visualization, social media analytics and unstructured data analytics technologies can work to make pervasive BI a reality.

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Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization
Table of Contents
Executive dashboards and scorecards: How to get started Executive dashboards and data visualization trends and future outlook Survey: Aligning BI with users, funding among top BI challenges Data visualization, social media analytics could be key to pervasive BI Resources from Dundas

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and Managing Your Business. cleaned. they tend to shy away." Eckerson said. Sponsored By: Page 3 of 20 .that's been integrated. worse. metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) about how business is performing? Consider the alternatives -. highly available system that delivers data -from a variety of different sources -. "[People] think they can get a dashboard on the cheap for about $10. according to analysts.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Executive dashboards and scorecards: How to get started By Hannah Smalltree. "A lot of folks see the sizzle of a dashboard and want it.000 -. "Just give me a dashboard!" Gartner analysts say.-based Data Warehousing Institute and author of Performance Dashboards: Measuring. but when you tell them how much it's going to cost to [create] a highly reliable.using complex reporting applications. according to Wayne Eckerson.when. loaded and delivered on a timely basis. Monitoring. in reality. director of research for the Renton. at a glance. Wash. First. The dashboard attraction is fairly obvious. reconciled. Editorial Director Executives love the concept of business intelligence (BI) and corporate performance management (CPM) dashboards and scorecards -.SearchBusinessAnalytics. Executives often return from industry events telling their IT staff. delivering effective dashboards and scorecards relies on a sound data infrastructure. waiting for paper reports. it's probably going to cost you half a million dollars. if you're starting from scratch. What manager wouldn't want a graphical user interface that shows. And that may be before they hear the cost and implementation timeline. requesting information from employees or." Eckerson said.but they are often unprepared for the costs and complexities of deploying them. But it's not quite that easy.

Ultimately. About 50% of the companies surveyed by Ventana thought they were effective in achieving performance alignment before dashboards and scorecards. but that number jumped to 75% after an implementation.-based Ventana Research Inc. formerly a vice president and research director with San Mateo. implementing a dashboard is worthwhile.but often confused. Snow. They don't have to conform to a management methodology.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Then there's a recommended two-year timeline to optimize the content and context of dashboards and scorecards." Snow said. There are some best practices when it comes to preparing for and evaluating dashboards. Sponsored By: Page 4 of 20 .such as balanced scorecard. which are more meaningful than just any metric since they actually indicate the performance of the business." To figure out what's best for a project. Calif. but a balanced scorecard would tell you if that business is actually profitable. Snow said. start with the end in mind. Snow said. goal or objective using KPIs. though. authored the firms' 2006 dashboard study and survey of almost 600 executives. according to Colin Snow in a 2007 interview. Scorecards may be part of dashboards but are different from them because they include multiple points of view and apply a management methodology -. It helps companies align operational performance to corporate goals and strategies. metrics and sometimes scorecards on a single screen. • Dashboards are reporting tools that consolidate and arrange numbers. • Scorecards are applications that show progress toward a strategy. Understand the difference between dashboards and scorecards The two terms are often used together. he advised.SearchBusinessAnalytics. They are distinctly different -. "[For example] a sales dashboard would tell you revenue attainment toward goal. They're often tailored for a specific role and display metrics targeted for a single point of view or department. "Don't confuse monitoring with managing.

help set priorities and benchmark current situations. process or portion of the business?" Complete a performance management process and system assessment Next. unbiased assessment" of financial and operational processes and technology.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization "Find out from your executive teams what they really want to do. and effective change management processes." Snow said. In the process. This can uncover problems. and will not." Trying to do too much too soon is a proven recipe for failure. be delivered in each phase.figuring out exactly what will. he said. "Projects get derailed very quickly if the scope is not defined well up front. "The project goes into scope creep and starts ramping up in features. organizations should self-evaluate -." Snow said." or who in an organization will need access to a dashboard or scorecard. Build a business case for executive dashboards and scorecards This requires more than just an ROI analysis. It also entails scoping the project -. Identify user requirements and project scope This requires defining the "performance network.and complete a "thorough.SearchBusinessAnalytics. Snow said. Sponsored By: Page 5 of 20 . Snow said. Dashboards and scorecards require executive support. This is apparently easier said than done. "Is it that you want information in a scorecard and you're tracking corporate strategy? Or is it just something I need to do to monitor an operation. "selling" the project throughout the organization. Snow said. which will be helpful later on in evaluating the dashboard project's effectiveness. organizations can also collect the data needed to build a business case for the project.

and start to build more support and buy-in before the dashboard or scorecard goes live." he explained.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization "People hit walls at the change management piece. it's extremely important to have enterprise-wide agreement about things like an organization's definition of a "customer" or "product. it hurts user adoption and can force companies to "back in" to an unplanned data quality or master data management (MDM) project. While MDM can be a major undertaking. Snow recommends proof-of-concept projects to iron out potential data problems. rather than after a dashboard or scorecard has been deployed. Sponsored By: Page 6 of 20 ." And it's better to tackle these sorts of data quality and master data issues up front." Problems can arise when dashboards publish data that used to be more private.and this leads to making the right software purchase for an organization's needs. Plan a parallel data quality or master data management project Data quality is a serious issue in dashboard and scorecard projects. further refine design plans. "because there's a cultural shift and change that happens when information is more visible. he cautioned. according to Snow's research. This means discussing the potential information that may be published on a dashboard or scorecard. If dashboards display incorrect or inconsistent data. Evaluate dashboard and scorecard technology It's common for organizations to skip many of the previous steps and evaluate technology first. but organizations should be primed for this change up front. Snow explained. held in someone's own spreadsheet or a single department. and defining what actions will be taken based on that information. Once technology has been selected. This visibility is often a good thing.SearchBusinessAnalytics. Snow said. But all of the steps leading up to the technology evaluation contribute to creating clearly defined requirements -.

. Completely web-based and flexible. www.dundas.com (416) 467-5100 (800) 463-1492 Silverlight is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. it lets you get dashboards and reports into the hands of those who need them faster and more cost-effectively. extensible data visualization platform for building full dashboard solutions.5 Now Available Dundas Dashboard is an advanced.Support For Numerous Data Sources Extensible And Customizable With Our Open API Rapid Dashboard Development Notifications/Alerts Dundas Communication (Annotations) Extend The MS BI Stack and SharePoint Full Scripting Capabilities V2.

So where do we go from here? Trend #1: More analytical dimensions for executive dashboards One obvious area for improvement in executive dashboards is in the number of dimensions (in the analytical sense) that can be represented on a two-dimensional surface (in the physical sense) such as a computer screen.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Executive dashboards and data visualization trends and future outlook SearchBusinessAnalytics. was first used in 1801.com Dashboards have already proven hugely effective in helping some executives to understand how their business is performing. dashboards are still in their infancy and inevitably have borrowed heavily from the past. for example. In a typical bar chart. we see a numerical measure (say. but there is a golden opportunity to use the huge computing power at our disposal to make complex information easier to understand. Sponsored By: Page 8 of 20 . No one would suggest we abandon the pie or bar chart.possibly even parchment. profit) sliced by the members of a dimension (for example. the month members of the time dimension). Most dashboards use presentation devices that were developed for paper -.SearchBusinessAnalytics. However. The pie chart.

" Trend #2: The demise of 3D for enterprise dashboards? It is very tempting to extend this idea and to try to represent three of the dimensions as the X. Smith referred to a book called Competing on Analytics.. but computing power allows us to use movement to represent another dimension (often time). director at Escherman. Indeed. who demonstrates a unique way of presenting data in this video. "The issue now is the ability to analyze and interpret the huge volumes of data being generated. Andrew Smith. is a big proponent of using analytics in dashboards.org.SearchBusinessAnalytics. U. we were free to add extra analytical dimensions using color and shape.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Even on paper. even the somewhat pedestrian Excel allows us to do this. in which authors Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris claim that those companies investing unreservedly in building competitive strategies based around data driven insights will significantly outperform those companies that don't." Smith said.none more so than marketing. and you can create something very similar in your dashboard using the Google gadget called Motion Chart. a digital PR and marketing firm based in Surrey. Y and Z axes on a two-dimensional surface in dashboards.K. "Every aspect of business can be improved through the better use of analytics -. You can try out his software and data at GapMinder. Dashboards and visual data analysis will increasingly have a greater role to play in marketing generally and may even become the key competitive marketing differentiator. The best proponent of this I have seen is Hans Rosling. Sponsored By: Page 9 of 20 .

Sponsored By: Page 10 of 20 . despite what many people expect.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Jock Mackinlay (Tableau's director of visual analysis) believes this type of representation is problematic for two reasons. but for more abstract business data. oil fields. 3D displays are unlikely to be a huge source of innovation in the future for executive dashboards. Where the data is truly three-dimensional (human body scans.SearchBusinessAnalytics. So. and the second is providing humans with controls that allow them to easily manipulate three-dimensional space. Trend #3: More interaction for enterprise dashboards Another major differentiator between paper and computer is that the latter can provide a high level of rapid interaction with the data. 3D displays are worth using. Mackinlay believes. This area seems primed to offer the greatest source of innovation in the future. the pain outweighs the gain. etc.). The first is simply occlusion (the data at the front has a tendency to obscure the data at the back).

but that's it. good dashboards can use relatively prosaic views of the data. dashboards should simply be a starting point from which users can dig deeper into the data. there has to be an upper limit on the quantity of information they can reveal. and the display of the information should be so fast that the user is never aware of a delay. And since there is clearly a limit to the information that a single screen can display. Dashboard tip: Provide lots of interactivity Many traditional dashboards are relatively passive. providing the data as soon as it is requested.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization According to Mark Lorion. Lorion feels that the integration of data visualization to allow regular business users to explore and ask questions of large amounts of changing and diverse data represents the future of BI. and the user interface has to be highly intuitive. Sponsored By: Page 11 of 20 . The trick here is twofold: The database engine behind the dashboard has to be lightning fast. but they must allow the user to interact with the data iteratively and very rapidly. vice president of marketing for TIBCO Software's Spotfire division. He sees this as a major departure from traditional BI. As Mackinlay points out. In other words. the future of business intelligence (BI) lies in data visualization and the ability of business users to take advantage of visualization methods to interact with data.SearchBusinessAnalytics. which provided a quick dashboard of business metrics but required heavy involvement from IT and other analysts to access the data and compile reports that often failed to meet the needs of the business user. So they might show the overall state of the enterprise and maybe some departmental level information.

the highest-level dashboard might be a face – a happy expression indicating that all was well. in 10 years' time. The good news is that people are working on the problem and coming up with innovative ideas. we need to get better at design.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Trend #4: Focus on executive dashboard design and usability To get to better usability. There is no magic bullet here: We are still learning how to make interfaces to complex data easy to use. After all. And they won't simply want to share a static view of the data. so this is an area where we should see significant advances in the future. humans have to be trained to understand graphs but do not require training to be excellent at both face recognition and reading moods in faces. overall picture of the data. We know how to handle data as dimensions and measures. So. a quizzical expression suggesting that it would be worth drilling down. Trend #6: Blue sky? Will we be using graphs and dials in 10 years' time? Undoubtedly -.but perhaps we will have become a little more imaginative in presenting the highest-level.SearchBusinessAnalytics. they will need to share the fully interactive view. What we also need is an interface that is so easy to use that the user is essentially unaware of it. however hard it may be for some technical people to admit. they will inevitably need to share it with others. he argues that some analytical processes cannot be achieved by a single individual because they require the combined expertise of several specialists. It could bring a whole new meaning to the expression "putting a brave face on the figures."collaborative visualization." Sponsored By: Page 12 of 20 . we can produce very fast databases. the main problems we face in turning data into information are not technical. it follows that when they find something interesting. Trend #5: The importance of collaborative visualization in dashboards And one final trend in dashboards: If we accept that it is a huge advantage to allow users to interact with the data (and it is)." Indeed. This leads us to another area that Mackinlay believes is going to become crucial -. and so on. Indeed.

Sponsored By: Page 13 of 20 . is unquestionably bright -. and data visualization in general.for a very simple reason. business decisions have to be based on that data.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Summary The future for dashboards specifically.SearchBusinessAnalytics. So data visualization has essentially become indispensable. but the raw data is simply overwhelming. Enterprises large and small generate data. On a daily basis.

com Technical challenges are increasingly taking a back seat to people and policy issues when it comes to business intelligence (BI) deployments. the aerospace and engineering products conglomerate. was picked as a top challenge by just 13% of respondents.” As such.” O’Keefe said.. according to a new SearchBusinessAnalytics. funding among top BI challenges By Jeff Kelly. News Editor. said. Aligning BI technology with business requirements and getting executive support and funding were tied for the top challenges facing BI and data management pros this year. Managing system performance and availability. “BI is an integral part of our strategic application roadmap. for example. In contrast. according to survey results. Sponsored By: Page 14 of 20 . Business Intelligence Challenges and Priorities Survey 2010.SearchBusinessAnalytics. O’Keefe said one of Honeywell’s top BI-related priorities is getting the technology into the hands of more users. Implementing new BI technology was the third most common challenge facing BI pros. an IT manager for Honeywell International Inc. “The main challenge is determining the appropriate end user tool to use to meet any specific reporting need and coordinating the requests with the various internal support groups. David O’Keefe. Data integration as it relates to BI received 23% of the vote. while 58% of respondents indicated they planned to roll out BI to more business users over the next year.com survey. Both were identified by 30% of respondents as top BI-related challenges. some that will hearten BI vendors.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Survey: Aligning BI with users. the more technical challenges received less attention. The survey also uncovered a number of related emerging trends. SearchBusinessAnalytics.

where she oversees both the hospital’s BI and corporate performance management (CPM) deployments.. the survey found. Only 32% of respondents said BI was used enterprise-wide (meaning at least 90% of workers used BI). by vendor and by type. Another 41% use SAP BI/Explorer/Business Warehouse products. In addition to identifying top challenges. were at use in their organizations. the survey asked respondents to identify which BI technologies.000 or more employees. Otherwise. Traditional BI power-users such as data analysts and executives are still the largest population of BI users. N. In a follow-up interview. There were some overlaps in products used. and 38% use Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services products. “That can lead to errors. and users turn to Excel and manual efforts to meet their BI and analytic needs.SearchBusinessAnalytics. Honeywell’s O’Keefe was one. as just over half of respondents reported two or more BI tools in use at their organizations. with 41% saying they used SAP Business Objects products. SAP was the most popular choice among vendors.” Desotelle said. IBM Cognos and Oracle rounded out the top five most popular BI products.C. something survey respondent Anne Desotelle could relate to. Desotelle is one of 255 qualified respondents that took the survey in March.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Still. Desotelle said she and her team sometimes struggle to meet BI requests in time for them to be truly helpful to users. Nearly 60% of respondents work for companies with 1. according to the survey. “what you spend your time on isn’t really the hot topic anymore. Desotelle is the Oracle EPS manager for Mission Hospital in Asheville. Keeping up with requests for new BI capabilities also ranked high among the list of top challenges.” she said. Just 9% worked for companies with 100 or fewer employees. She said educating users about the time it takes to develop and deploy a new report or dashboard is the key. pervasive BI has yet to truly become pervasive. “Our primary BI Sponsored By: Page 15 of 20 .

That’s up from 30% last year. “However. however. 53% said they planned to consolidate BI technologies at use within the next five years. seem to be losing their appeal with just 25% and 29% of respondents saying they are using or considering using the technologies. Open source BI and SaaS or on-demand BI. That’s down from 52% and 41%. we have other self-service and dashboarding tools in use.” O’Keefe said. segmenting and retaining customers. 13% were systems analysts. according to the survey.” Of those with multiple BI tools. 11% were business analysts.SearchBusinessAnalytics. Sponsored By: Page 16 of 20 .com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization tool is the solution provided by SAP. data warehouse appliances garnered the most attention. and managing reports and dashboards are the top three CPM-related challenges facing BI pros. The survey also revealed that a wide variety of job titles participate in BI deployments. on the other hand. had non-management titles. and 10% were information/data architects. Among emerging BI-related technologies. Of the 255 respondents. however. Forty-three percent of respondents said their organizations currently use or plan to use advanced analytics software. integrating BI and CPM platforms. Implementing new CPM technology. The survey also asked about the use of CPM and advanced analytics. 15% were IT managers/directors. from last year. respectively. most to support tracking. with 51% of respondents saying they are using or considering using the technology. The largest group of respondents at 19%.

. social media analytics could be key to pervasive BI By Jeff Kelly. geographic mapping analysis and time-series analysis charts. There is hope. by most accounts. "BI for the masses" – for years now.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Data visualization.com Business intelligence (BI) vendors and industry analysts have been talking about pervasive BI – i. however. shop floor directors and other business users. but an important one is the technology itself. both large enterprise software companies and smaller data visualization specialists. A recent survey of BI end users and managers by the U. Data visualization. Among them is the ability to easily overlay multiple data sets on a bar graph or chart via drag-and-drop tools. Perhaps the most sure-fire way to spur business user adoption of BI is to improve data visualization technology.SearchBusinessAnalytics. BI vendors are constantly touting innovations that will bring BI to the masses. But. The easier it is for non-analysts to view and make sense of dashboards and other data visualizations. SearchBusinessAnalytics. BI has yet to break through to the desktops or BlackBerrys of most marketing managers.e. the more likely they are to use BI technology. have come up with enhancements to existing data visualization techniques to do just that. but so far to little effect. according to analysts. Other improvements include improved usability of heat maps. Sponsored By: Page 17 of 20 . Many factors contribute to the lack of business user adoption. 1. Here are three technologies that could play critical roles in spreading BI to more business users.K. A handful of vendors. salespeople.-based Business Application Research Center revealed that only 11% of respondents have BI deployed to more than 50% of employees in their companies. News Editor.

That makes it more likely that non-power users will get their hands on the technology and understand what the blogosphere is saying about their companies.SearchBusinessAnalytics. “By understanding and analyzing trends within user growth and demographics. thanks in part to in-memory technology. increasing query speed and lessening the amount of data modeling needed with traditional BI platforms. 3. Unstructured data analysis. Facebook.” Himel said. most social media analytics technologies require significant expertise to use and are far from perfected. A related technology that could make BI more appealing to business users is unstructured data analysis. emails and other unstructured forms. Called R. the free software language was designed for statistical computing and graphics. and creation of content. Social media analytics. [Facebook] page owners and platform developers are better equipped to improve their business with Facebook. In-memory analytics engines load data into random access memory rather than disk. Much of the data business users interact with each day is Sponsored By: Page 18 of 20 . Social media analytics is an emerging discipline.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization The amount of data that data visualization tools can analyze is also on the increase. 2. the world’s largest and most influential social networking site. is doing its part to bring BI to the masses. And one open source predictive analytics language is enabling the creation of new types of data visualizations that make previous visualizations “look kind of tacky” in comparison. according to analysts. More than 80% of corporate data sits in Word documents. according to Marick Sinay. according to Alex Himel. demographic data and click-through rates. who uses the technology on a daily basis. consumption of content. a Facebook software engineer. But Forrester Research’s Jim Kobielus thinks that social media analytics tools – as they become easier to use – will be integrated into traditional BI platforms. Currently. The site offers page owners a number of analytics tools to monitor and measure referral traffic. a financial analyst with a large multinational bank. and so are the tools that enable it.

Sponsored By: Page 19 of 20 . social media analytics and unstructured data analytics technologies would go a long way to making pervasive BI a reality.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization unstructured. the new tools could prove particularly useful for marketing analytics. according to Forrester’s Boris Evelson. But a couple of vendors are experimenting with integrating enterprise search technology with more traditional BI platforms in hopes of solving both problems. Evelson said. There are other things that need to happen – including better end-user training – before BI truly comes to the masses.SearchBusinessAnalytics. But improvements in data visualization. such as parsing user comments and reviews from online forums. And text analytics tools have yet to reach a level of maturity that would be inviting for non-power users. If successful. Improving the ability to access and analyze that data would probably prompt more business users to adopt BI technology. Most current BI platforms are not well suited to unstructured data analysis.

Dundas's success over the years is reflected by their numerous Fortune 500 customers and many industry awards. Sponsored By: Page 20 of 20 . more informed decisions by helping them quickly visualize their data in a meaningful.SearchBusinessAnalytics.com E-Guide Guide to Improving BI Technology: Key Trends in Dashboards and Data Visualization Resources from Dundas Learn What a Dundas Solution Can Do for You Schedule a Free Consultation and Speak With a Dashboard Specialist Learn More About Dundas Technology About Dundas Dundas Data Visualization is a world leader in advanced data visualization and business dashboard solutions and software.Dundas also offers a professional services group tasked with providing comprehensive dashboard consulting.their flagship business intelligence platform . interactive and "actionable" manner. In addition to Dundas Dashboard . Dundas's goal is to assist organizations make faster. product enhancement and training.