Thursday, December 02, 2010

The key to business dashboard integration

I’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.

After all, isn’t quick and easy access to business data the whole purpose of business dashboards? If they don’t integrate with your current business software or aren’t accessible from anywhere, what’s the point?

Now, let me take this one step further and quickly explain the differences between accessible and inaccessible dashboards. It all starts with dashboard architecture.

Why is dashboard architecture so important? Many dashboards are built on closed and inflexible architecture. They’re designed for use in one place. They don’t integrate with other software. They aren’t very accessible or easily customizable.

On the flip side, dashboard products built on open architecture provide both flexibility and integration. With a flexible dashboard, you build it once and access/integrate it nearly anywhere. For example, when you build a dashboard using an open architecture, you can:
  • Integrate that dashboard into your other business software, like Microsoft Sharepoint.
  • Access that dashboard from any web browser, including mobile browsers.
  • Integrate that dashboard into other web apps, like landing pages. Here’s an example using iGoogle. (To sign on to this iGoogle dashboard, use account and password mrc-demo.)
The important point in all of these examples: You’re building only one dashboard and using it in many places. That means you see the same information everywhere. That means you don’t have to build multiple dashboards. It means you can view and access your data however and wherever you wish.

So, why should you pay attention to dashboard architecture? It’s the difference between a limited dashboard and a flexible dashboard that you control.  Of course, if you have any questions about architecture, integration, or what you should look for in a dashboard, let us know. We’re happy to help.


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