Data Analytics, Business Intelligence (BI), and Business Dashboards are major buzzwords right now. With all this talk around analytics, you may be wondering if you are getting the most out of your data. A crucial first step to maximizing your insights is finding a state-of-the-art dashboard software with the necessary dashboard features for your business.
Before discussing these features, let’s take a step back and look at what a business dashboard is and why it is important. At the most basic level, a business dashboard is a visual, real-time representation of a company’s data, such as the image above. Dashboards give businesses a quick and easy way to monitor and generate business insights. They are indispensable for the C-suite and management teams but also empower teams across a business, including sales, finance and marketing. A successful dashboard provides the necessary components for making smarter, informed decisions to drive results.
With the ever increasing access to data, often from disparate sources, you need to ensure you bring your data together with the right business intelligence software. How do you choose the right tool to tell your data’s story? There are 15 essential dashboard features companies like datapine provide.
1) Global Dashboard Filters
Dashboards combine multiple charts into one view. For example, the cash management dashboard below has many different data visualizations. With just one dashboard you can now see the overall health of your cash management. Powerful stuff.
Now, what if you want to change the date range of your data or just look at a certain department? It would be cumbersome to filter each visualization in the dashboard separately. It would also be easy to forget to filter one of the visualizations. Now you are comparing apples to oranges!
This is where global dashboard filters become vital. Global filters allow you to drill down into your data across multiple visualizations with just a few clicks. A global filter panel provides your users and viewers selected filter options that affect the data displayed across the whole dashboard. A good filter tool also contains a “Hide Filter” option for visual governance.
Let’s say you only want to provide applicable regional data to your sales teams. You don’t want the sales teams using the global filter to access the other regions’ sales numbers. The dashboard developer would build the dashboard once, use the global filters and filter by each region, hide that filter option and publish / save as separate dashboards. The process is quick and painless! If your company has 5 regions, this just saved you from making 4 duplicate dashboards with just different regions. Now think about all the ways you segment your data. Global and hidden filter options will save you precious time.
2) Display Filter Values
Data transparency is key when creating a dashboard. Filtering data alters the story it is telling. When using filters on your dashboard, it might be useful to display these filter values as part of the headlines or other text on your dashboard. With a simple function, you can integrate these values on your dashboard. This way everyone stays on the same page, especially when dashboards are printed out and underlying filters can’t be looked up.
3) Global Style Options
While resources, of course, should be focused on the underlying data in a dashboard, how you design your dashboard is also key to its success. In the end, the goal of analytics is to make your data tell a compelling and accurate story. Global style options help you do that.
Global style options like in the example above allow you to change the fonts, colors and background colors of all dashboard elements including charts, texts and other elements. You can also apply unified style settings to the data labels, text elements and legends of your charts and graphs. This allows you to adjust your dashboard design quickly for all charts on your dashboard. With global style options, you can easily stick to a unified corporate brand, image and story.
4) Predefined Dashboard Themes
In the same vein as global style options, predefined dashboard themes allow you to change the look and feel of your dashboard with no effort. You can define your own dashboard themes or choose between a few default themes. This is particularly helpful when you are implementing your data analytics and still fine-tuning your branding and story.
5) Numerous Chart Options
There is no one universal chart you should use. A bar graph tells a different story versus a line graph. You should always think through what is the appropriate data visualization to utilize when building a chart. A good dashboard software like datapine provides numerous chart options like the ones below.
Using this array of styles allows you to visualize your data on the dashboards in the most meaningful way.
6) Number Appearance Options
Number charts on dashboards are one of the primary data visualizations utilized in dashboards and for good reason. Number charts help viewers quickly identify key trends.
Since they are built so often, a number appearance option is another key dashboard features. With this option, the appearance of number charts can be individually defined or globally applied to the dashboard to change the trend colors, style and size of numbers.
7) 24/7 Dashboard Access
Your data is live 24/7 and so should your dashboards. Modern dashboard software should provide you 365/24/7 access from wherever you are. A browser-based software also allows you to access your data from your computer, mobile and tablet. The power of data analytics really can always be at your fingertips.
8) Multiple Sharing Options
Actually sharing your dashboards is essential to establishing a data-driven culture in your company. Your dashboard software should incorporate various sharing options. These options should include sharing dashboards with other employees in your organization or with external viewers by URL or with automated email reports.
9) Public Links
You may need to provide dashboards externally to potential investors, media or your own clients, for example. This can easily be done via a public URL. A public URL allows you to share your insights with a large range of people in one instance. Check out this public link example with a web analytics demo dashboard.
10) Embedded Analytics
The word is out… everyone wants access to data these days. Sometimes sharing dashboards via email or public links is insufficient. Perhaps you are fostering a strong data culture and want to embed internal company data on your intranet or in your own application. A requisite dashboard feature provides the ability to embed a dashboard in your personal environment – no matter if it’s on your website, intranet or own software application.
11) Dashboard Tabs
A dashboard should tell a cohesive story. It is a snapshot where insights can be gleaned at a glance. A poorly-designed dashboard contains too many unrelated visualizations. Yet, sometimes, your data story has chapters. This is when you need a dashboard tabs feature to structure your data. For example, you can have a marketing dashboard with SEO, Google AdWords and social media tabs. This is more efficient than having one dashboard for every marketing channel and easier to digest than cramming all the visuals into one view.
12) Tab Rotation
A good dashboard software will offer a range of presentation and sharing options such as some of the ones we have already discussed. Let’s say you have built a great dashboard showing across-company snapshots and utilized a dashboard tabs feature for each department. Better yet, your data-driven company wants to see this dashboard on a big screen in the office. A great approach to present this dashboard is by using a full screen mode in combination with a tab rotation function. By applying this feature, the tabs on your dashboard will alternate on the screen in a specified time interval. This is a fantastic way to create a little competition between different teams or departments.
13) Animation Options
A great option for more interactive dashboards as well as to catch the attention of the user is to add chart animations to your dashboard. Choose a software providing different types and styles of animation depending on the chart types displayed on your dashboard. The animation should be triggered each time you open a tab or refresh the dashboard.
14) Dynamic Images
Images often supplement your data visualization story and they also help brand management. Instead of displaying cryptic product names or IDs, it is sometimes a good idea to display images on your dashboards such as your Top 5 products. A successful dynamic image function allows you to display images via a link that changes depending on the filter settings.
15) Printing Bounds
Speaking of printing, while dashboards are extremely powerful when they are live and interactive, sometimes you have to print them out. A printing bounds feature helps you align your dashboard to an export format. This way you can make sure that your dashboards export into a neat PDF or PNG format without breaking any charts or graphs, making boardroom presentations even easier!
The 15+ billion-dollar business intelligence industry shows no sign of slowing down. For good reason, self-service analytics empower every level of user and are becoming essential to data-driven businesses. President at Gartner, Rita Sallam, recently stated that:
“2016 is the year of modern BI and analytics (BI&A) platform. The BI&A market is in the final stages of a multiyear shift from IT-led, system-of-record reporting to pervasive, business-led, self-service analytics. Organizations will continue to transition to easy-to-use, fast, agile, and trusted modern BI&A platforms deployed across the enterprise to create business value from deeper insights into diverse data sources.”
With so many dashboard tools joining the market, it is imperative you ensure they offer the above 15 dashboard features. If you don’t believe us, start your free trial and check our advanced features on your own!
There are a few other interactive dashboard features your business dashboards should have, such as dashboard chart filters and dashboard widget linking. Keep an eye out for our next post on interactive dashboard features to learn more.