Dashboards are one of the most talked about areas of Business Intelligence and they have come a long way in the past few years. Here we take a look at some of the key trends in the market for dashboard software.
1. Business users leading design
When it comes to designing dashboard software, it is crucial to take into the account the end user. Understanding and fulfilling their requirements can make all the difference between success and failure. After all, these are the people who will ultimately be using these tools on a day-to-day basis and any discontent on their part is sure to cause problems for the business as a whole.
When implementing new BI tools, there is often great debate as to whether the project should be business- or IT-lead and each side takes a different approach. Business users are typically concerned with factors such as speed, clarity of information, ease of use and sustainability over time. IT users on the other hand are more concerned with factors such as security, control and the ease of integration with existing systems.
2. Improving accessibility
Innovations in technology over recent years have completely changed the way in which information can be viewed, with devices such as smartphones and tablets making it easier than ever to access data anywhere in the world. As a result, there is now greater demand than ever before for dashboard software to be readily available across a wide range of these devices.
This demand was highlighted in a recent survey by Jaspersoft, which found that 85% of respondents recognised the advantages that could be gained from accessing dashboard software and other Business Intelligence tools on their mobile device.
Furthermore, a report by Gartner found that 50% of Mobile BI users will rely exclusively on mobile devices for insight delivery by 2015. A major factor in this will undoubtedly be increased access to dashboard software and tools.
3. Real-time dashboards
One of the most talked about trends in dashboard software is the ability to develop real-time business dashboards. With advances in technology such as in-stream and ad-hoc processing, this is now possible and for many businesses it presents an exciting opportunity.
However, the extent of the benefits of real-time dashboards is subject to ongoing debate. The vast majority of analysis conducted by businesses uses empirical data taken over a greater length of time, allowing them to spot key trends and events. This means that for most businesses, real-time data is not a necessity.
4. New breed of data visualisations
Dashboard software is beginning to see a new breed of data visualisations appear. Rather than being restricted to traditional visualisations such as pie charts and line graphs, there are now a vast number of formats available. This gives users greater freedom to design and develop visualisations that are appropriate for the data they wish to present.
One form of visualisation that is becoming increasingly popular in dashboard software is the sparkline.
Sparklines are a great way of presenting significant volumes of data in a relatively small space, and so are perfect for a business dashboard.
5. Collaborative data visualisation
As users develop the skills to create these dashboards and data visualisations, it becomes increasingly likely that they will want to share them across the business. Rather than simply sharing them in the form of static reports, users want to be able to send fully functional and interactive dashboards and this requires dashboard software that promotes this kind of collaboration.
6. The demise of 3D data visualisation
The use of 3D data visualisations may seem like a good idea, but in reality such visualisations can make it more complicated to determine exact values on a chart or graph.
The issues with 3D data visualisations are highlighted in the bar chart above. The difficulty arises in determining which part of the bar is actually the “top” value, and this may create confusion between users.