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An Introduction To Data Dashboards: Meaning, Definition & Industry Examples

A beginner's introduction to data dashboards by datapine

Data is all around us, and it has changed our lives in many ways: the fast-paced world of business is no exception. Digital data empowers organizations across sectors to improve their processes, initiatives, and innovations using the power of insight. But with so many stats, facts, and figures in today’s hyper-connected age, knowing which information to work with can seem like a minefield.

Enter data dashboards: one of history’s best business intelligence innovations.

To assist you in understanding the business-boosting power of dashboards, we’re going to explore a definitive data dashboard definition, explain the importance of dashboard data, and look at a selection of real-world examples.

To gain a working understanding of the concepts outlined in this guide, we must first start with an official definition:

What Is a Data Dashboard?

Data dashboard example: financial KPI dashboard showing the current working capital, cash conversion cycle, vendor payment error rate, etc.

A data dashboard is an interactive analysis tool used by businesses to track and monitor the performance of their strategies with quality KPIs. Armed with real-time data,  these tools enable companies to extract actionable insights and ensure continuous growth.

They offer users a comprehensive overview of their company’s various internal departments, goals, initiatives, processes, or projects. These are measured through key performance indicators (KPIs), which provide insights that will enable you to foster growth and improvement.

Online dashboards provide immediate navigable access to actionable analysis that has the power to boost your bottom line through continual commercial evolution.

To properly define dashboards, you need to consider the fact that, without the existence of dashboards and dashboard reporting practices, businesses would need to sift through colossal stacks of unstructured information, which is both inefficient and time-consuming. Alternatively, a business would have to "shoot in the dark" concerning its most critical processes, projects, and internal insights, which is far from ideal in today’s world.

To further highlight the pure informational efficiency of modern data dashboards, let’s take a quick glance at the four main types used in today’s business world:

  • Operational dashboard: Operational dashboards are designed to monitor trends and pattern changes while helping you work on specific performance benchmarks. These dashboards are responsive, dynamic, and effective for in-the-moment decision-making.
  • Analytical dashboard: Analytical dashboards are typically used by senior executives and decision-makers. These types of analytical tools enable users to drill down deep into specific pockets of information and gather a level of intelligence that aids razor-sharp trend discovery from a top-level perspective.
  • Strategic dashboard: Strategic dashboards provide information and visualizations that enable users to discover which initiatives work best or worst. A big data dashboard packed with invaluable metrics, these analytical tools help assess KPIs from every angle and, ultimately, formulate business-boosting strategies across departments.
  • Informational dashboard: Informational dashboards are usually focused on a very specific process or branch of information and are effective for gaining useful at-a-glance data or short-term strategic decision-making. 

Now that we have a clearly defined dashboard definition, let’s move on to its primary function: answering critical business questions.

What Is The Purpose Of A Data Dashboard?

As mentioned earlier, a smart data dashboard has the ability to answer a host of business-related questions based on your specific goals, aims, and strategies.

By taking raw data from a number of sources and consolidating it before presenting it in a tailored, customized visual way, data dashboards can enable you to gain a deeper insight into your company’s most valuable information and empower you to find actionable answers to your most burning business questions.

Through linking with specific KPIs that align with your business goals, you can drill down into specific pockets of information, creating benchmarks and measuring your success continually.

In doing so, your business will be data-driven and, as a direct result – more successful. To find out more about dashboards and key performance indicators, explore our ever-expanding collection of various business-boosting KPI templates.

Your Chance: Want to build your own, modern data dashboard for free?
Try our professional dashboard software for 14 days, completely free!

Our Top 28 Data Dashboard Examples & Templates

Now it’s time to delve deeper into 28 prime real-world digital dashboards tailored for various sectors and industries.

For a more detailed glance, you can check out 100+ business dashboard examples suited to an ever wider range of business functions (marketing, sales, finance, management, etc.) and industries (healthcare, retail, logistics, manufacturing, etc.).

For now, let’s explore our personal 28. Prepare to be inspired...

1) Management KPI Dashboard

Our first data dashboard template is a management dashboard. It is a good example of a “higher level” dashboard for a C-level executive. You’ll notice that this example is focused on important management KPIs like:

  • Number of new customers compared to targets
  • The average revenue per customer
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Gross revenue, target revenue, and last year’s revenue
Management executive dashboard showing the important KPIs to C-level executives,

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The example above does a great job of keeping things focused and avoids clutter through the liberal use of white space.

2) Financial KPI Dashboard

Data report example from the financial department

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Maintaining your financial health and efficiency is pivotal to your business's continual growth and evolution. Without keeping your fiscal processes water-tight, your organization will essentially become a leaky tap, draining your budgets dry right under your nose.

As one of our most widely used financial data analytics tools, our financial KPI dashboard will tell you all you need to know about your business’s ongoing fiscal health by offering digestible visualizations of every key financial area of the business.

Here, you can analyze cash conversion cycle efficiency and vendor payment error trends while examining budget variance trends and breaking down existing assets and liabilities.

By carefully monitoring this insightful dashboard, you will gain the power to spot emerging trends, troubleshoot any financial issues before they harm the business, and enhance your supplier relationships.

When you can access your working capital calculations ‘at a glance,’ monitoring your company’s overall financial health on any given day, week, or month will become a swift, simple process, giving you the time and space to develop initiatives to grow the business.

3) Sales Cycle Length Dashboard

This sales dashboard below is a sales manager’s dream. This dashboard example shows how long customers are taking to move through your funnel, on average. It expands on this by showing how different sales managers perform compared to others.

Sales Cycle Length Dashboard to track the whole sales funnel

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Finally, the sales data dashboard gives your information a more nitty-gritty context by breaking down these sales KPIs into how many people are at each stage of the funnel and how long each stage lasts on average.

4) IT Project Management Dashboard

IT data dashboard: project management overview

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In many ways, your IT department is the backbone of your business - it’s what keeps your business operational.

Most IT operatives are overstretched and under pressure, but by working with the right visualizations, you can give your department the tools to become smarter, more efficient, and more impactful.

Our IT project management dashboard offers a wealth of at-a-glance insights geared towards reducing project turnaround times while enhancing efficiency in key areas, including total tickets vs. open tickets, projects delivered on budget, and average handling times.

All KPIs complement each other, shedding light on real-time workloads, overdue tasks, budgetary trends, upcoming deadlines, and more. This perfectly balanced mix of metrics will assist everyone within your IT department to balance their personal workloads while gaining the insight required to put strategic enhancements into action and deliver projects with consistent success.

By consolidating every key piece of information in a central place, every IT team member can get on the same page, working cohesively to resolve emerging issues with maximum efficiency while helping others tackle the various stages of every vital IT project with complete confidence.

5) Procurement Data Analytics Dashboard

Procurement is a strategic function that connects the needs of a company with contractors, suppliers, freelancers, or agencies, e.g., serves as a critical component that requires up-to-date information, easy monitoring processes, and advanced automation capabilities that will optimize the procurement department and save countless working hours.

It's imperative to track the supplier management processes most efficiently; otherwise, companies risk losing precious information and face difficulties in short-term and long-term business operations. That's why a procurement dashboard helps professionals easily understand large volumes of data and extract meaningful insights within minutes.

The Supplier Delivery dashboard provides information on the performance of single suppliers, but also on the overall supplier performance

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This example focuses on supplier delivery management and stats about the performance. At the top, we can see a quick overview of the defect rate, on-time supplies, supplier availability, and lead time in days. The defect rate should be as low as possible, as this is one of the procurement KPIs that measures how many products are not compliant with product specifications but don't meet quality standards. After all, the product's final quality is an essential indicator of the suppliers' reliability since higher defects would mean more bottlenecks in the entire process.

The details of each supplier's defect rate and defect type are visualized on the bottom left, where you can see how well the top 6 suppliers have been performing. Supplier number 1 is considered the most reliable since the defect rate is quite low, and the type of defect has no impact on the product, so there could be issues in delivery processes or payments.

You can also compare the delivery time between different suppliers and look for additional possibilities to negotiate faster deliveries. In this case, you can see that supplier number 4 has never been late, although it has fewer early deliveries than supplier numbers 1 and 2.

With the assistance of detailed monitoring processes, each industry professional or manager can build and automate a comprehensive procurement report that will optimize the supplier delivery mechanisms and increase the productivity levels of everyone involved.

6) Web Analysis Dashboard

If you use digital marketing heavily in your business, this marketing dashboard below will soon become your best friend. Focused on web analytics, this example will provide you with substantial visualizations that you can dig deeper into and examine all web-related marketing data.

Business intelligence basics applied to a Web Analytics data dashboard tracking important marketing KPIs

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This marketing data dashboard template gives you a number of useful marketing KPIs at a glance, giving you the answers to questions like:

  • How many people are visiting your website?
  • How many pages are they looking at?
  • How long are they staying?
  • How many people are converting?

This example goes even further by breaking down your top converting channels, campaigns, and pages and showing how much of your traffic is coming from each channel.

This information makes it easy to know where you should prioritize your time and energy.

7) Human Resources Talent Dashboard

HR is becoming more data-driven, and modern software solutions have entered the human resources realm in order to ensure recruiting and talent management operations are more effective and focused on unbiased quality. Especially today, when attracting and keeping the right talent has become a difficult challenge for companies that are faced with scarce talent, and a high level of competition, particularly in the IT industry. In fact, 43% of human resources professionals say they struggle with the hiring process because of competition from other employers. Even when they hire the right candidate, there is often a scenario where talents leave because of low satisfaction levels or a better offer from the competition.

An example showing the talent management metrics such as the talent turnover rate, satisfaction, and rating, among others

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A modern HR dashboard focused on talent management, as we can see above, helps professionals identify issues and potential negative impacts on the business by analyzing important metrics focused on talent. For example, the talent turnover rate is an HR KPI showing you which department has difficulty retaining top talent. In our example above, you can see that the financial department deals with the highest voluntary turnover, so it might make sense to examine why.

The talent satisfaction is expressed through the net promoter score (NPS), and it's evident that the highest satisfaction is achieved after a 5-year employment period. However, the first year is also very near result-wise.

The talent rating is expressed by the employment period and category. It's critical to conduct regular feedback and meetings to develop communication as well as talent capabilities. If a particular lack of skills is present in the assessment process, investing in employees and providing additional educational opportunities would be wise. That way, the company can profit, too.

You can also take a look at a quick overview of the hiring stats that include the time to fill, training costs, new hires, and cost per hire. The total number of employees, monthly salary, and vacancies will provide you with an at-a-glance overview of the talent management stats within the first quarter of the year.

This dashboard description includes all-important information essential to developing a modern HR report for professionals, managers, and VPs who must compete to attract the best possible candidates and keep them in the long run.

One of our next database dashboard examples shows processes in the manufacturing industry.

8) Manufacturing Production Dashboard

If your company is in the manufacturing business, a production dashboard will prove invaluable, as seen in this example:

Manufacturing Production Dashboard displaying main manufacturing KPIs to keep the pulse of your factory

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With manufacturing KPIs for your total production volume, sales revenue, units ordered, and top-performing machines, you have your finger on the pulse of your factory.

Finally, the refunded items by reason graph serve as an “early warning sign” for manufacturing defects.

9) Marketing Performance Dashboard

Marketing performance example of a data dashboard

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A data analytics dashboard packed with insight, this marketing-centric innovation effectively ensures a consistently healthy return on investment (ROI).

To maximize the value of your promotional campaigns and initiatives, engaging your audience through the right touchpoints, channels, and mediums at exactly the right times is vital. If you fail to do so, you’re merely marketing to the void and throwing your budget into the abyss.

Our digital marketing report example provides a panoramic breakdown of your campaigns’ performance by allowing you to drill down into essential metrics, including click-through rates (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and cost per acquisition (CPA).

By analyzing these insightful KPIs and comparing the performance of various campaigns from a central location, you can pinpoint any inefficiencies while capitalizing on your marketing strengths. This deep level of visual insight will assist you in understanding how your customers engage with your marketing materials while guiding you toward the content and strategies that earn the best results. And when you do that, you will see a significant revenue boost and audience growth.

10) Logistics Transportation Dashboard

This particular dashboard shows how big data and analytics can impact the logistics industry. Regarding logistics, every moment matters, and you want as many deliveries as possible to be on time.

Logistics Transportation Dashboard visualizing essential KPIs when it comes to delivery

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This logistics dashboard helps to adjust the fleet performance and overall transportation performance since the delivery status, fleet efficiency, average loading time, and other logistics KPIs will enable you to generate actionable insights, examine various details, and identify trends in your transportation management processes.

11) Cash Management Dashboard

Naturally, your cash flow is integral to the ongoing health of your business. By managing your income, expenditure, liquidity, and financial relationships effectively, you’ll be able to meet your monetary targets, gain greater access to credit, and ensure your business is fortified against any unforeseen circumstances.

Cash management data dashboard example to illustrate the dashboard features global style options

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This dynamic financial dashboard features all the functions and KPIs to keep every element of your finances afloat, helping you optimize your financial activity for ongoing growth and success. An essential data dashboard-type for organizations across industries.

12) Customer Support KPI Dashboard

Call center data analytics presented with the revenue value, costs per support, average time to solve an issue and overall satisfaction

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Niche or sector aside, offering your clients or customers exceptional customer support is no longer an added luxury - it’s essential. No exceptions. No compromises. Without providing a valuable personal customer experience, your business will suffer. And harnessing the right data is the most effective way to avoid falling behind your competitors.

Our dynamic customer service dashboard serves up a perfect storm of visual information that helps everyone in a consumer-facing role (from support agents and team leaders to senior managers, VPs, and beyond) perform their role better.

With KPIs including service level, support costs vs. revenue, and customer satisfaction rates all on the menu, this well-rounded data analytics dashboard provides every metric required to reduce service costs, monitor support trends, and tackle glaring customer-facing issues head-on.

By tracking this KPI dashboard regularly, you will reduce the time your agents take to solve service issues, streamline your departmental processes, and ultimately meet your customers' needs with confidence and consistency. In turn, you will boost your brand reputation, increase your revenue, and improve customer loyalty - three key ingredients of commercial success.

13) Retail Data Dashboard Example

What dashboards in the retail industry provide is, in short, an indispensable means of reporting and centralizing massive volumes of information. No matter the size of a company, a retail dashboard specifically designed for online retailers has immense importance in optimizing online processes and providing a centralized point of access for all retail-related data.

Sales and order retail data dashboard - to help you leverage big data analytics

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Achieving success in online retail highly depends on data collection, management, monitoring, and optimizing processes to increase productivity and, consequently, revenue. Moreover, customers are more informed and demanding than ever before, and that's why having all the information in a central place is critical. That will enable you to act swiftly and ensure high levels of customer satisfaction.

The sample starts with the return reasons, one of the most important retail KPIs closely connected with the rate of return and affecting the quality assessment. The perfect order rate and the number of total orders dig deeper into the stats over a longer period of time. That way, you can adjust your retail analytics strategies more carefully and increase efficiency.

Top sellers by orders will tell you if you need to adjust your offers or invest more into marketing the best-performing pieces in your inventory.

14) Salesforce Data Dashboard

In today's competitive environment, Salesforce is one of the tools critical for managing and optimizing customer relationship processes. With the assistance of a professional Salesforce dashboard, monitoring and optimizing the sales lifecycle, connecting with other sources, and automating the reporting processes are done quicker than ever before.

An example showing the outbound calls statistics and performance through metrics such as the contracts closed, average contract value, demos, etc.

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Cold calling is still an effective strategy to gain new customers, and the outbound calls dashboard helps determine whether the team is doing a great job, needs additional help, or is developing a more productive sales environment. The dashboard shows an overview of the number of outbound calls, demos, contracts closed, and the contract value. On the right side, you can see an outline of 5 agents and their performance in the last month, which can help you create detailed salesforce reports and optimize further.

At the bottom, you can see the calls and contact rate per weekday and notice how the mid-week contact rate rises. That way, you can adjust your future planning and cold-calling operations more effectively.

15) Hospital KPI Dashboard

Hospitals are the beating heart of the health sector – without them, where would we be? With so much activity to analyze and so many resources to consider, implementing healthcare analytics software that includes data dashboard technology in hospitals is essential in this day and age.

Hospital analytics gathered on a hospital management dashboard

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Covering treatment costs, financial efficiency, and various critical aspects of patient care, this hospital dashboard plays a pivotal part in ironing out any operational efficiencies daily. Moreover, with the insights gained from this dashboard, hospitals stand to increase mortality rates, invest more wisely, and ensure cohesive communication throughout the institution.

16) Employee Performance Dashboard

It doesn't matter what you sell or offer – if your employees aren’t happy, motivated, and performing to the best of their abilities, your entire organization will suffer. That's why we're bringing you another HR-focused example created with professional HR analytics software.

This HR report focuses on the employee’s performance and behavior

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A comprehensive staff-centric innovation, the employee performance dashboard drills into every major aspect of personnel management, from absenteeism rates and overtime hours to productivity and training costs. The information here helps offer support and motivation where needed, boosting staff engagement and improving your management strategies.

17) Energy Management Dashboard

Energy management dashboard with selected KPIs

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Many businesses overlook the financial impact of powering their everyday operations. But the average business uses between 100 and 150 kWh every year. And for organizations with multiple sites or branches, this figure is likely to at least quadruple.

Driving down your energy consumption will not only save you a significant level of annual costs, but it will also turn your business greener and more sustainable.

An invaluable dashboard for any scaling business, our energy management platform offers a clear visualization of your energy sources and consumption while allowing you to compare your usage to other sectors.

Our energy dashboard also displays visual data and trends based on any power cuts you’ve experienced over a certain period. This insightful dashboard will give you a greater understanding of how your business consumes energy while giving you the insight you need to nip any inefficiencies in the bud. You will save money and keep your operations flowing in the process.

This data analysis dashboard is essential for cementing sustainable financial growth while eliminating unnecessary wastage.

Your Chance: Want to build your own, modern data dashboard for free?
Try our professional dashboard software for 14 days, completely free!

18) IT Data Analytics Dashboard

In IT, a dashboard means extreme value, and it's one of the tools needed to ensure projects are delivered on time, tickets are managed successfully, and costs are controlled, especially for chief technology officers, who need to have an overview of strategic management and lead the technological resources in alignment with business goals and needs.

That said, an IT dashboard that centralizes multiple touchpoints has immense value for leaders and professionals in the IT advancements of a company. Let's take a closer look at how to read our example focused on IT leadership.

A CTO data dashboard example showing relevant metrics focused on internal processes, learning, finance and customers, and users

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The visual is organized into 4 main sections that modern CTOs need to monitor and evaluate in order to gain and keep positive business development: learning, internal, finance/customers, and users. Let's take a quick look at each.

The learning section is divided into IT KPIs critical for managing tickets and bugs and the team's attrition rate. You can immediately spot where issues are concentrated. In this case, the restoration success rate has slightly worsened this month compared to the last. We can see that developing other metrics, such as reopened tickets, is better, but we also look at critical bugs over a longer timeframe.

The internal part has more issues in metrics such as the mean time to repair, availability, and accuracy of estimates. For the latter, the team didn't estimate their workload correctly, but it would be prudent to examine why and what exactly happened. The other two metrics, the mean time between failures and the downtime due to security, have shown positive development compared to last month. This shows you which parts of your strategy you need to focus on more to bring success in every aspect of a company's technological development and management.

On the bottom part, you can see the financial and customer aspects and the development of users through a 12-month period. These aspects are essential in IT analytics to reach sustainable development since costs are oftentimes an issue in IT projects, as well as support expenses.

To learn more about project management, you can explore our guide on project management dashboards.

19) Content Quality Control Dashboard

A data dashboard example tracking relevant metrics related to the quality of digital content

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In an increasingly digital world, consumers expect great value from brands and businesses. To earn consumer loyalty and trust, creating content that solves your audience’s pain points and inspires and engages will push you ahead of the pack.

An informational innovation, our content quality control dashboard offers a detailed breakdown of your article and content creation processes. Here, you can analyze your best-performing content, explore how long each phase of your story creation process takes, and understand how easy your content is to read. 

By working with every informational aspect of this content-centric dashboard, you will know exactly what types of content engage your audience and earn the best results. As a result, you can tweak and enhance your content marketing strategy and article creation processes for ongoing brand awareness, commercial growth, and customer retention growth.

Content is one of the most vital components of any business strategy. Without knowing what works and what doesn’t, you will never reach your full potential. In terms of content creation, this dashboard created with professional media analytics software will help you get where you need to be and beyond.

20) FMCG KPI Dashboard

Fast moving consumer goods dashboard displaying metrics related to inventory management, products sold, and deliveries

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Managing your fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) processes with pinpoint accuracy will make your supply chain stronger, smoother, and more efficient than ever before. Conversely, if you allow your FMCG initiatives to dwindle, your supply chain will fall apart, and you will lose money.

Our FMCG dashboard will help you get a firm grip on every fast-moving part of your supply chain, which you probably know is a real challenge.

By using these interactive visualizations to your advantage, you will gain a working insight into how swiftly you’re selling your goods within their freshness date, check FMCG stock levels in real-time, examine your inventory turnover over specific timeframes, and analyze your average time to sell specific categories of items.

With access to every essential FMCG insight in one central location, you can weed out any glaring, fast-moving supply chain inefficiencies while managing your stock and fulfillment strategies in a way that consistently saves time and money.

Fast-moving goods need to be handled carefully at every stage of the supply chain while being delivered to the right parties at the right time. This highly intuitive tool will help you steer clear of any brand-damaging fulfillment calamities while keeping your supply chain fluent from end to end. In turn, you will see a boost to your business’s bottom line.

21. HR Diversity Dashboard

Human resources data dashboard example focusing on diversity KPIs

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As the digital age continues to evolve, data dashboarding opens up an increasing number of progressive avenues for businesses looking to propel themselves forward. Our HR analytics dashboard is a testament to that notion.

Diversity in the workplace is no longer an optional add-on or “nice to have”—now, it’s essential. This vibrant dashboard drills into the diversity of your workforce, breaking highly visual pockets of information down into gender, ethnicity, and persons with disabilities.

Here, you can see recruitment and turnover rates over specific timeframes and, ultimately, get an accurate representation of your company's diversity. Also, this invaluable data will help you understand how satisfied your employees are in their roles. This dashboard will give you the tools to improve your business, making it a happier, more fulfilling, and more equal workplace.

22. Manufacturing OOE Dashboard

Real-time tracking manufacturing data dashboard for daily operational efficiency

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This dynamic informational tool is a piece of data dashboard software that offers a deep dive into your company’s overall operational effectiveness.

Broken down into specific machines, this manufacturing dashboard allows you to gain a panoramic view of your first pass yield, scrap rates, and throughout in one central location. By monitoring this powerful melting pot of metrics regularly, you can track your overall production quality, the capacity of your machinery, and your machine failures with pinpoint accuracy.

By doing so, you’ll be able to make more responsive and accurate decisions that will save you money while boosting output and ensuring your production processes remain at an exceptionally high standard.

23. Pick and Pack Scorecard

Logistics pick and pack data dashboard to ensure orders preparation are running smoothly

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This pick and pack scorecard is logical, easy to navigate, and will give you the power to level up your logistics strategy indefinitely.

This dashboard is split into four definitive segments (financial, effectiveness, utilization, and quality) for a well-rounded overview of your pick and pack activities. Working with each KPI, you can omit any costly or time-consuming processes from your daily strategy while boosting overall productivity.

In addition to boosting efficiency and productivity, this most informative of data analytics dashboard examples will help you monitor if you have enough equipment to reach your goals while providing deep-dive metrics that will improve the accuracy of your picking and packing efforts. This is an essential tool for any scaling business working with large amounts of stock or inventory.

24. Customer Service Quality Dashboard 

Customer service quality dashboard example

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Our next data management dashboard example tacks customer service quality metrics for different communication channels. With this insightful overview, businesses can analyze their customer service strategies and spot improvement opportunities to ensure customer issues are solved quickly and efficiently. 

The template above, generated with professional dashboard software, is composed mainly of a big table tracking the total and solved tickets, the resolution time, and the cost per resolution for each channel, allowing dashboard users to compare the different channels and extract valuable conclusions. Additionally, each line in the table contains a line chart tracking each channel's total vs. solved tickets, making it possible to dive deeper into underperforming areas. 

The data on the table is complemented with the abandonment rate and a breakdown of the average resolution time in minutes for special and standard requests. The abandonment rate is a very important metric to track as it directly affects customer satisfaction. Therefore, tracking it closely is a must.

25. Operating Expenses Dashboard 

Financial data dashboard example tracking operating expenses

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The next data dashboard sample in our list focuses on operating expenses and their development across 12 months. As you might already know, operating expenses or OpEx are all costs incurred in a business’s daily operations, including salaries, marketing, rent, carrying inventory, and more, depending on the industry. Companies who manage to keep their OpEx at a minimum while maintaining their expected revenue often gain a huge competitive advantage.

To help you get there, our template offers a 360-degree view of every relevant aspect related to your operating expenses. We first get a chart showing the monthly development divided into fixed and variable costs and compared to the previous year. Fixed costs are all costs the organization needs to mandatorily pay every month, such as salaries, insurance, and rent. Variable expenses, on the other hand, are all costs that can vary from month to month, like labor costs, raw materials, and utilities, just to name a few. 

This information is complemented with two charts that provide a detail of the amount of fixed and variable expenses as well as a gauge chart showing the operating ratio. The operating ratio is arguably the most important KPI displayed in this sample. It represents operational expenses as a percentage of a business’s revenue and serves as a “success indicator” for your expense-optimization strategies.

26. Social Media Dashboard 

Data dashboard template tracking social media performance for 4 main channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram

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As a marketer, you are probably aware of the pains of manually checking each social media channel and analyzing your strategies' performance. Our following template aims to eliminate that pain by providing a brief yet insightful overview of seven KPIs for four popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. 

What makes this template so valuable is the insight users can extract from it at a glance. Each metric is compared to a target, with the difference between the actual value and the target highlighted at the end of each row in green for positive results and red for negative ones. Having these color codes enables any user to spot underperforming areas in a matter of seconds. For instance, we can see that Facebook is the channel with the most metrics in negative compared to the target. This is something to look into to make the strategies more successful. 

27. Facebook Page Dashboard

Facebook page dashboard provides insights into all the important metrics on this social network

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Despite the colossal rise of new social media platforms in recent years, Facebook remains one of the most popular and engaged of them all.

Niche or industry aside, to expand your commercial reach, showcase your brand authority, and connect with new consumers, having a solid social media strategy is essential. That’s where our Facebook dashboard comes in.

This excellent example of a dashboard allows you to optimize every aspect of your company’s Facebook page and profile, gaining the best possible return on investment (ROI) for your social media efforts in the process.

Here, you can understand your follower demographics, track page follows, examine on-page interactions, and discover page view sources from one cohesive nerve center. By working with this perfect storm of metrics, you will understand what kind of content will resonate with your audience the most and reach prospects at the times when they're most likely to engage.

28. YouTube View Performance Dashboard

Data dashboard template to track your YouTube video performance with specific video-related metrics and indicators

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Last but certainly not least, in our examples rundown, we have our YouTube dashboard for video performance.

Without a doubt, video is today’s consumers’ most engaged form of content. Maximizing the reach and performance of your YouTube content will help you reach droves of highly engaged new fans or customers.

With KPIs based around video views, watch time, engagement, and viewer retention, you have all of the core metrics you need to understand exactly what your video or YouTube viewers want to see. In turn, you will quickly understand the tones, themes, and subject matter that will result in the best engagement, boosting your ROI in the process.

Your Chance: Want to build your own, modern data dashboard for free?
Try our professional dashboard software for 14 days, completely free!

The Top 10 Benefits Of Data Dashboards

The top 10 benefits of data dashboards: 1. They are customizable, 2. They are interactive, 3. For real-time monitoring, 4. All your data in one place, 5. They are intuitive, 6. Collaboration, 7 They force you to focus, 8. They help you to multitask, 9. They are predictive, 10. They help with data storytelling

Now that you have at least a basic understanding of what is a data dashboard and how it can benefit your company, let’s dig deeper into some of its uses.

1. They Are Customizable

One of the biggest advantages data dashboards have over more traditional spreadsheets is that they are almost infinitely customizable and flexible. This makes sense operationally, as different people in your company use the same data in very different ways.

For example, let’s say you have all of your sales information from the past quarter in a spreadsheet. While you can dig through the spreadsheet for details, you must look at all the information simultaneously. This can affect your ability to focus. But using an effective sales report created with a dashboard, you could easily have one layout optimized for a specific sales representative, showing them:

  • Deal closing rates
  • Average order size
  • Lifetime value (LTV) of customers closed

A sales manager might see each of these data sets for each of their sales reps, and a C-level executive won’t see any of this. They’ll see averages of LTV, order sizes, and overall closing rates, along with other “bigger picture data.”

2. They Are Interactive

Let’s say our sales executive wanted to dig deeper into the data around a promising new hire. If she was using dashboard software, she could simply tap a few buttons on her dashboard and get to a view similar to that of the sales manager. Conversely, if the sales manager (or even the rep) wanted to understand how their job role fits into the company as a whole, they could “zoom-out” as needed. This kind of “focus adjustment” just isn’t possible with spreadsheets.

When presenting data and communicating metrics, it is important to create a dialogue – no one likes being preached throughout a whole presentation. Letting your audience be part of it, thanks to interactive dashboard features, will convey your message more efficiently. By using real-time data and manipulating it live, encouraging your listeners to ask questions and drill down the information by themselves, and exploring on their own, they will be much more engaged in the discussion. The interactivity is especially interesting in dashboarding with a diverse audience: newcomers are onboarded easily while experts can dig deeper into the data for more intel.

3. They Allow For Real-Time Monitoring

The business world changes quickly.

If you’re still running analytical reports by sending them to your IT department and then waiting to get them back, your company is missing out on situations where agility wins. If you have to wait days or weeks to get data on a situation, it might be too late to make necessary changes.

For example, with real-time monitoring, you can see how a phone outreach campaign is going for a big product launch you have coming up. If you notice that you’re not getting any results via your dashboard a week into the campaign, you can do a quick intervention and switch to digital ads, direct mail, or some other strategy.

You’re saving yourself a big opportunity cost here.

4. All Of Your Data Is In One Place

When you use dashboards, you have one centralized location where all of your users can access your data.

This is in contrast to a myriad of spreadsheets, software, and databases that represent the legacy approach. While all of your PPC data is on Facebook, all of your customer data is in your CRM software, and your income/loss statements are in your mainframe (which is running on the 1980s software and requires an IT staff member to operate). Not pretty.

Instead, with 24/7/365 dashboard solutions like datapine, if someone wants to make a data-driven decision or presentation at the next staff meeting, all they have to do is pull out their tablet.

5. They Are Intuitive

Let’s be honest – most people find it easier to understand a graph than a long, tedious Excel spreadsheet full of numbers. Dashboards allow you to “tease out” patterns in your data that you might not see in a purely numerical format.

Additionally, people have different levels of “tech-savvy.” Some users may find even an Excel document to be quite difficult to work with. Dashboards make everything accessible.

6. They Get Everyone On The Same Page

In order to have a dashboard culture, everyone on your team needs to be on board. That can’t happen if some employees don’t have the same access to data that other employees do, whether due to technical comfort levels or simply due to data being spread out.

When everyone on your team looks at the same numbers, they can understand the team’s mission in a much more tangible way. You can point to sales numbers and really connect them with future goals and projections.

This kind of connection is priceless.

7. They Force You To Focus

Perhaps the biggest reason to use dashboards for understanding your data is that they force you to focus.

One of the key points to remember when creating a stunning dashboard is that you shouldn’t overwhelm it with too many KPIs. From a visual and aesthetic perspective, things get cluttered if you put too much on the screen. From an effectiveness standpoint, your mind starts to wonder what’s important.

Therefore, if you’re using dashboards the right way, your brain always knows what KPIs are important – the ones on the screen. You can even make more important KPIs bigger, further reinforcing their status in your mind.

As Tony Robbins says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” In other words, you take action on what you focus on. Dashboards facilitate focusing on what’s truly important.

8. They Help You To Multitask

Multitasking is a useful skill, but in business, trying to absorb too much information or tackle too many tasks at once can prove to be detrimental, with projects becoming convoluted and mistakes being made.

However, when it comes to data analytics, a modern dashboard consolidates all critical information from various data sources through data connectors and presents them in a dynamic visual format. By viewing a multitude of organized, visually digestible information in one central space, you can quickly extract several pieces of information at once, empowering you to complete projects swiftly with greater success and accuracy.

9. They Are Predictive

Dashboards aren’t psychic, but they can help you predict the direction your business is going based on current trends, metrics, and intelligence. If you don’t like how particular elements of your business are going, digital dashboards will give you the intelligence you’ll need to consider enhancements that will help cement your future success.

By working with a mix of past insights, real-time data, and detailed patterns, dashboards provide a panoramic overview of specific areas of your business. If you feel something is going to cost you unnecessary investment in the future, you’ll be able to improve your financial strategy; if you see something worth capitalizing on, you can create a campaign or initiative around it.

Moreover, as modern data dashboards securely store everything on the cloud, access to predictive insights is literally 247 - 365 days a year. All you need is a web connection and you can start formulating strategies wherever you are in the world, at any time.

10. They Help You To Tell Stories With Your Data

When it comes to sharing your data with others, prompting any form of progressive action requires others to understand the message you’re trying to convey.

To help other departments within your organization or external partners get on board with your data-driven insights, you need to tell a story with your data. An interactive digital dashboard will help you do just that.

Through seamless data visualization, a dashboard can help you create a narrative with the information delivered through your KPIs. In gaining the ability to do so effectively, you’ll be able to work more cohesively towards your goals and accelerate the success of your business exponentially.

5 Tips To Create Successful Data Dashboards

So far, we’ve discussed the range of benefits professional data dashboards offer. We have also looked at an extensive list of examples to put the value of these tools into perspective. Now, you should be ready to start generating your own, but as with any other analytical process, there are a few tips and best practices to ensure you make the most out of the process. Below, we discuss the top five. 

  1. Think about your audience and goals 

The first and most important tip we will give you is to carefully think about your audience and general goals before you even generate a dashboard. Thinking about your audience's needs can help ensure their analytical experience is tailored and more successful. For example, if your audience doesn’t have a lot of analytical knowledge, you can add explanations and other elements that will make the data easier to understand for them. Likewise, if you are dealing with experts in the topic, you can make it more interactive and straight to the point. 

Conversely, considering your general goals is also of utmost importance. Ensuring your dashboard is not overcrowded with information but tells a compelling story is the key to success. Therefore, carefully thinking about the goal of this analysis is a great way to ensure the correct message is conveyed. 

  1. Select only valuable KPIs 

One of the biggest mistakes companies make in their data-driven journey is to measure too many KPIs. The issue is that just because something can be measured does not mean it should. As mentioned previously, your dashboarding journey should be entirely driven by general company goals. This means you should only focus on the KPIs that will help you measure your efforts towards achieving those goals. We recommend sticking to 3-5 KPIs per business goal. That way, you’ll ensure your dashboard is not overcrowded and keep your audience engaged with relevant data. 

If you feel overwhelmed when picking key performance indicators, you can support yourself with the SMART technique. It basically says that for a KPI to be valuable, it needs to be Specific to a business goal, easily Measurable, realistically Attainable, and Time-bound, meaning it is measured in a defined period. Following these guidelines will help you select valuable KPIs and avoid vanity metrics. 

  1. Use the correct visuals 

As you saw earlier with our list of examples, modern data dashboards are highly visual tools that make extracting insights from your most valuable KPIs easier. That being said, it is more challenging than picking a couple of charts and putting them in a dashboard. Each type of visual has its own purpose and use case, and picking the wrong one can end up messing up your analysis or, even worse, misleading your audience into believing a conclusion that is not correct. 

To avoid this, we recommend you learn from the different types of graphs and charts available and understand when to use them. For instance, if you are trying to compare data, such as most sold products, you can use a bar graph; on the contrary, if you are trying to compare data that adds up to 100, you can use a pie chart; if you are trying to show part-to-whole relationships over time you can use an area chart, and so on. Doing so will also help you ensure your dashboard storytelling is successful and can help the business grow.     

  1. Involve everyone in the process 

As you learned earlier, with the list of benefits, data dashboarding is most successful when used in a collaborative environment. That is because data keeps teams connected and working towards the same company goals. For that reason, a best practice you should follow is integrating every relevant stakeholder into the dashboarding process from generation to analysis. To do so, you can support yourself with dashboarding tools that offer a range of sharing capabilities. For instance, datapine’s dashboard designer allows users to share their dashboards through password-protected URLs, automated emails, or assigning different viewer rights. That way, you’ll ensure everyone can access the information they need to see. Plus, dashboards can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, taking accessibility to the next level. 

  1. Learn from the process 

Our final best practice is that you learn from the process. While the tools available today make the dashboarding process agile, efficient, and less prone to error, it is still a practice that changes depending on the company’s needs and requirements. Therefore, we recommend you never stop learning from the process. Think about the KPIs you used, how you presented them, the periods analyzed, and even the dashboarding schedule. Do you need to generate more, or are you ok with the ones you have? 

Asking yourself all of these questions will help you ensure you are extracting the maximum potential out of your data and your dashboarding efforts. This will also represent a significant competitive advantage in time as you will make swift and informed decisions to grow your business. 

5 Common Mistakes Of Data Dashboarding

Now that we’ve looked at a selection of inspiring templates and a list of benefits and best practices let’s look at what you should avoid during the dashboard generation process to ensure a successful analysis process.

1. Using too many visuals

When it comes to effective dashboarding, being as focused as possible on your information is the name of the game–your visuals are no exception.

Using too many visuals will result in crowded and difficult-to-navigate dashboard designs. As a result, extracting important information will become difficult and confusing.

To ensure your dashboard is optimized for the best possible user experience and delivers the best results, you should only include visuals that are completely essential to your specific needs or goals. As a general rule of thumb, around six visuals are the maximum you should use per dashboard to keep it balanced. 

2. Using complex language

Another common data dashboard mistake that can derail your analytical efforts is using jargon or complex technical language.

One of the key benefits of data dashboards is that they create a level of accessibility when it comes to getting maximum value from your data. As such, everyone in your organization should be able to use these powerful business tools to their advantage.

That said, when building or customizing your dashboards, you should use plain language and explain data concepts in the simplest, most succinct way possible. When looking at your language, considering the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) model will help guide your efforts.

3. Not following design best practices

Following best design practices is essential to ensure your dashboard is convenient and fit for purpose. If you don’t, your creations will likely be clunky, abrasive to the eye, and waste more time than they save.

To help you stay on track, here are some basic design principles you should follow:

  • Always provide context
  • Tell a story with your data
  • Be consistent with your labeling
  • Use interactive features
  • Round off your numbers
  • Be simple and straightforward
  • Ensure your colors are cohesive and consistent

For a more detailed rundown of these design principles and more, read our full guide to dashboard design best practices.

4. Focusing only on current performance

If your dashboards only focus on current performance, they will only reveal a small slither of the overall informational pie.

To get the most from your data dashboards, you should work with KPIs and visuals that will uncover a balanced mix of historic, present, and predictive data. By doing so, you can connect with trends and patterns that are usually hard to spot, formulating strategies that will boost your business success or prevent potential issues from causing you company-wide problems in the process. The key takeaway here is to always work with data that will show you the bigger picture.

5. Making them static

When it comes to data dashboarding, static Excel spreadsheets are a thing of the past. With modern dashboarding tools, you have the power to interact with your data and drill down deep to extract process insights.

So, when working with data-style dashboards, you should always ensure that you include dynamic elements like interactive filters and drill-down functionality. 

Ensuring your dashboard is dynamic rather than static will give you continual access to a level of intelligence that will make your business as cohesive, collaborative, creative, forward-thinking, and internally efficient as possible. And when that happens, your company will thrive.

We’ll now discuss the primary features or benefits of BI-powered dashboards and take a glimpse at legacy solutions.

How Data Dashboards Are Used In BI

Now that we’ve asked the question, ‘What is a dashboard?’ and looked at the primary functions of these powerful tools, let’s examine them in a business intelligence context.

When it comes to business intelligence, data dashboards play a pivotal role.

Business intelligence (BI) is a term that relates to the applications, infrastructure, practices,  and tools that empower businesses to access a broad range of analytical data for improvement, campaign optimization, and enhanced decision-making that maximizes performance.

A data dashboard is the vessel – or tool – that materializes BI practices, converting, visualizing, and communicating complex business data into meaningful, actionable insights.

BI dashboard tools allow business users to drill down even deeper into analytical data to capitalize on strengths, spot weaknesses, and make changes that will benefit the future of their organization.

Digital dashboards have quashed the necessity to sift through multiple reporting tools; instead, they access dynamic insights – often in real-time. With such dashboards, users can customize settings, functionality, and KPIs to optimize their dashboards to suit their needs.

To summarize, in the context of BI, data dashboards are used for:

  • Deep-level insight: Drilling down deeper into key aspects of your business’s daily, weekly, and monthly operations to create initiatives for increased efficiency.
  • Information sharing: To facilitate the online data visualization of your most valuable data so that you can share key insights with other stakeholders both internally and outside the organization.
  • Performance measurement: By working with interactive KPI dashboards, you can set specific business tasks, measuring your performance while working towards clearly defined milestones for enhanced business success.
  • Forecasting: As dashboards are equipped with predictive analytics, it’s possible to spot trends and patterns that will help you develop initiatives and make preparations for future business success.

A data dashboard assists in 3 key business elements: strategy, planning, and analytics. As we have expounded on the data dashboard definition and shown you real-life scenarios, we will focus on legacy data solutions.

Legacy Data Solutions

Before dashboards, getting an intuitive grasp of your company’s performance through data-driven intelligence was much harder.

Because a huge amount of data exists in a company’s mainframe computer (particularly data related to profits, costs, revenue, etc.), you often need IT professionals to prepare data reports for you.

Why? Well, many of these mainframe computers are still running legacy software designed in the 1970s or 1980s. These innovations offer no swipe-able screens or easy-to-use interfaces.

 These are more “command line” types of machines, and other issues include:

  • The time delay associated with requesting reports
  • Data is spread out amongst many databases
  • Lack of different types of graphs and charts

Due to all of these problems, dashboards were developed. They help businesses answer the question, “How can we use all the data we have about our company and our customers to make better informed, data-driven decisions that lead to more revenue and profits?”

Behind the scenes, with the help of a dashboard builder, you can integrate all of the information you need from your company's different data sources. However, you (the end-user) see simple tables, charts, and graphs – all in real-time.

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Ready To Get Started With Data?

We’ve asked the question, ‘What is a data dashboard?’ by looking at an official dashboard definition and delved deep into the dynamics of data dashboard software, and one thing’s for sure: if you work with your business’s insights the right way, you will propel your business to new heights.

Now that you understand the unrivaled power of data dashboards, we’re sure you’re keen to get started. The good news is that harnessing data dashboards' power is a few clicks away. datapine’s innovative dashboards are intuitive, interactive, and completely customizable, displaying all of your most critical data in real time in one easy-access location.

To find out more about what dashboards can do for you, sign up for a 14-day trial, completely free!