Traditionally, one of the first steps to designing a dashboarding or reporting solution is to determine what screen size to use as a basis for layout. Typically, the solution’s layout will be designed to look good on a “standard” laptop. The smaller screen resolution looks a bit small on large monitors, but at least the whole application fits on the page. But that can’t be the ultimate goal, right? The advance of responsive design allows for mobile devices to view the same content, but allows for the application to be scaled up to larger monitors as well. When creating responsive applications, it is important to keep in mind what device is being used to access the solution. This should determine how much and what kind of data to provide the end user.
Over the years, there have been several forces behind the surge of mobile devices. With the influx of devices in today’s market, unlike the limited options you were once faced with, now there is something for everyone no matter your style, color, or operating system preference. On top of this is the introduction of Quadcore to tablets, 4G, and the continuous adoption of HTML5. This proliferation of devices gave rise to the phenomenon of BYOD.
With the emergence of this trend, businesses realized they had decisions to make and quickly: Do they stick to their current policies and only support company issued devices? Do they adjust their current strategies and infrastructure to support new BYOD policies? In hindsight, with the growth of BYOD, lurks the inevitability of having to create apps for each screen for the large number of devices, which is not only time consuming but requires resources. In the end, companies want end users to be happy and productive while ensuring your IT departments sanity.
Year after year the hype surrounding data analytics becomes louder. Thought leaders and research organizations have sung the praises of analytics as a means for generating much-needed insight into business operations, and companies that have embraced analytics have been able to translate insight to better operational productivity and faster, more accurate decision-making. In a competitive business environment where your competition is just as hungry as you are to reach and secure new customers and where business leaders need to make accurate, fact-based decisions about the company’s future, analytics can be the game-changer that makes the difference between success and failure. Here’s how:
The beauty of analytics is that it can serve as a guideline for transforming sub-par business performance to one that is efficient and profitable. Whereas reports provide a historical view of what transpired, analytic output is forward-looking, and plays an integral role in helping executives plan for the future.
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Even though BI has been around for decades, misconceptions still persist. These myths harm BI’s reputation and can make it difficult to achieve buy-in from stakeholders. Let’s review a few of the common misconceptions I’ve come across in my work as a BI consultant.
1) Dashboards = Business Intelligence
Certainly dashboards with at-a-glance views of KPIs are the most common form of business intelligence, but they’re not the only mechanism for consuming BI content. Many companies use dashboards for quick reviews of very important metrics, but just as many are running monthly or even daily reports with their BI software. Many of our customers use arcplan to send daily financial reports to entire departments every morning. Other BI models include self-service ad-hoc reporting, which goes beyond traditional static reporting, and data discovery, where analysts interactively explore data from multiple sources in a BI interface. Then there are many BI platforms that enable users to use BI like social media – collaborate with peers, leave comments, annotate graphs and more. The truth is, business intelligence solutions nowadays are flexible enough to accommodate however your users want to work. Don’t limit yourself to thinking dashboards are BI. They can help you monitor your business performance easily and should be a part of your BI mix, but think about what other forms of BI can contribute to the success of your initiative.
2) The most popular BI tool must be the right one for my organization
When it comes to BI, one size doesn’t fit all. The hype surrounding popular solutions doesn’t necessarily translate to value for your organization. You should evaluate whether the solutions on your shortlist are compatible with your data architecture, whether they’ll address users’ specific requirements, and whether they’re scalable for future development. You might set yourself up for failure if you only shortlist “hot” vendors. Need a starting point? Try analyst evaluations like BARC’s BI Survey. Its analysis can help you build a list of vendors to evaluate based on product capabilities and user feedback.
3) BI ROI is questionable
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For a lot of people, business intelligence = dashboards. Since they’re so relied upon to present at-a-glance views of KPIs and to guide decision-making for business leaders, it’s critical that dashboards are well-formatted, easy to read and simple to navigate. Let’s explore the dashboard design trends that resonate with today’s executives.
1) Flat UI will continue to grow
In 2014 clean beats clutter. Users are drawn to crisp, clean interfaces, often with tile-based layouts. Windows 8 was influential in creating this flat design and Apple followed suit with iOS 7. Business leaders can quickly access and interpret data when information is presented in an uncluttered interface.
2) Mobile First