mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

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Business Dashboards

How to build a dashboard that your executives will love

EducationA recent study by Aberdeen Group uncovers some surprising information about the need for real-time data. In that study, 42% of respondents claimed they needed to make decisions on business events within the day that the event occurred. Going even further, 28% put the time frame at one hour.

All in all, Aberdeen finds that decision-making windows are shrinking. Businesses are forced to respond to incoming data faster than ever before.

What does this mean? For many businesses, it means they need more than traditional reporting software. They need executive dashboards that deliver clear, real-time business data to the right people when they need it.

If your company falls into this category, and you need to build dashboards for your users and executives, you’ll inevitably run into a few questions: What goes into my dashboard? What makes a good dashboard? How can you build useful dashboards that your users and executives will love?

So, what’s the answer? Rather than simply list my opinions, I decided to try something new: I posed those questions to a few dashboard experts, and have compiled their advice (as well as some of my own advice) into the 6 key points below. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to building useful dashboards:

Weekly recap: 4 possible futures for IT, HTML5 is growing, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on four possible futures for IT, HTML5, and more. I hope you find them useful:

HTML5 use is real: Majority of developers find it important for their job in next 12 months
If your company is considering mobile apps, you’ll face one big question: Should we build mobile web apps or native apps? While native has been popular among consumer recently, a recent survey indicates that developers think that HTML5 importance (particularly with mobile web apps) is growing.

Weekly recap: 10 things I’ve learned from working in IT, how big data became so big, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on lessons learned from working in IT, big data, and more. I hope you find them useful:

What we mean when we talk about cloud computing
The term “cloud computing” might just be one of the most overused buzzwords in recent history, but…do you really know what it means? This article gives a great overview of cloud computing, and even explains important terminology related to the cloud.

Why users don’t use Business Intelligence

ProductivityOne of the biggest problems facing companies using business intelligence software is this: Most users don’t use it. This problem has been discussed in great detail, with the general consensus being that users typically don’t use BI software because it’s too difficult. Makes sense, right?

While I believe that problem does play a role in adoption rates, I recently read an old Gartner BI study that touches on another possible reason. Many BI tools require that the user stop operating in their traditional workspace and move to another environment to view information.

Create business dashboards the easy way

Save TimeWhy don’t you have business dashboards yet? In my experience, if a company doesn’t have business dashboards, it’s usually for one of two reasons: Either they don’t see the value, or they think it’s too difficult.

What’s the value of a business dashboard? A good dashboard gives you a clear view of your business, improves your decision making, and helps you find problems before they get out of hand. …

What is business intelligence?

EducationJust the other day, someone asked me this question: “What is business intelligence?” It got me thinking…I frequently write about business intelligence (BI) and why it’s important, but I’ve never really defined the term. In this post, I’d like to take a step back and give you the what, why, who, where, when, and how of business intelligence. Sound good? Okay, let’s get started…

What is business intelligence?
Most companies collect and store data covering all areas of their business. This data sits in a database and is really pretty useless in this format. What do I mean by that? If you looked at data in a database, it wouldn’t make any sense and would most definitely overwhelm you. This is where business intelligence comes into play. Business intelligence is the process of taking that (overwhelming) data in your database and presenting it in an understandable, accessible, and useful fashion. …

The key to business dashboard integration

EducationI’ve recently noticed more and more companies asking this question: “Can you integrate this dashboard with Sharepoint?” While it seems like a basic question, it highlights an underlying trend. I’ve noticed a shift in the business dashboard landscape. Business dashboards are no longer good enough. The question is not, “Do you have a dashboard?” Now, the question is, “Where can you integrate/access your dashboard?”

What do I mean? I’ve noticed that more and more companies want dashboards that:

  • Integrate with other business software (like Sharepoint).
  • Are accessible from any web browser.
  • Are accessible from a smartphone.
  • Integrate with other web services.

Five essential elements every Business Intelligence solution should include

EducationBusiness intelligence is a confusing subject. Generally speaking, when a company realizes they need business intelligence (BI), they aren’t clear on everything a BI solution should include. Why not? BI isn’t the same across the board. As a result, comparing BI solutions is like comparing apples and oranges. Each solution contains different elements.

So, how do you know which elements to look for in a BI solution? I think a few elements are pretty standard, like simple ad-hoc reporting, the ability to use multiple databases, and exporting data to Excel and PDF. Besides these basic elements, I’ve put together a brief list of 5 essential elements that every good BI solution should include: …