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Business intelligence is most effective when focused on operational, real-time data, and fast-moving KPIs – things you want to look at frequently because they change on a minute by minute basis. I’ve noticed a growing trend recently in the number of web applications specifically designed to aggregate and display this kind company data more elegantly. Demand is certainly there within many large organisations to have one central business intelligence dashboard that can (at a glance) show how well the company is doing overall, or how well an individual department is performing.
With datasets often tucked away in a variety of different places, across a corporate network, this is a challenge facing many I.T. managers across the globe – how to get the vital statistics quickly into the hands of the decision makers that can make a difference to performance. Digital Dashboards, and the KPis which are chosen to achieve this, are critical to making a real difference to the bottom line.
The following are a collection of some of the more elegant apps I’ve stumbled upon recently in my travels that let you do exactly that, and have the flexibility and extensibility to put the data firmly back in the hands of business owners and decision makers, and also serve as a good reference point for dashboard design and implementation.
Roambi is a pretty neat little tool, that manipulates existing business intelligence data, and transforms it into a digital dashboards that are more easily consumable on mobile devices. Current data sources include SAP, business objects, Salesforce, a standard Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or indeed Google Analytics, giving you access anytime anywhere to your data. The lite version is available free of charge for individuals and can transform Excel spreadsheets and CSV files into interactive views for your iPhone or iPad that are much more usable and consume than traditional spreadsheets or dataviews.
Geckoboard is a browser based digital dashboard for gauging general business performance online at a glance. It makes a number of “widgets” available to the user to show how well your online KPI’s are performing. For example, if you wanted to build a quick dashboard of the traffic performance of all of the sites in your portfolio, Geckoboard allows you to do that quickly and easily, by authenticating against your Google account. Want to turn it into your own social media dashboard? No problem. There are out of the box widgets available for Twitter, and the community have already provided a ready to use free widget for Facebook.
The currently supported web application widgets for Geckoboard comprise of the following: Chartbeat, Google Analytics, Pingdom, Twitter, Basecamp, Github, Prefinery, GetSatisfaction, Zendesk, Google Apps, Google Calendar, Gmail, MailChimp, Standard Email, Highrise – as well as a few other standard text and numeric widgets. However, the fun doesn’t end there, if you happen to want to monitor something other than that, a full API is available to do so. A quick bit of programming jiggery pokery, and you will be away at the races, with your favourite online application stats being monitored.
Geckoboard is definitely one of the sexiest web applications that I’ve come across in a while. The attention to detail on the implementation is absolutely second to none, and everything from the way widgets refresh, to the openAuth authentication makes it a breeze to introduce new widgets to your dashboard and a joy to use. Well worth taking for a spin. (We’ve also scored a couple of invites to give away – just leave a little comment on this post if you want one).
InDinero offers a visual overview of your company finances at a glance, and is one of the few web based accounting packages that I’ve seen taking a status / dashboard approach with their features. Future financial hiccups are predicted, alongside existing cashflows, in beautifully presented graphics, with insight into the health of your business. Previous income charts show how you’re spending, what you’re earning, and how your business finances have changed over time. Data within the application is synchronized with your bank and credit cards accounts in real time providing updates for of all of your financial data at your fingertips. Although it is available in the U.S. only at the minute, inDinero is definitely one to watch within the online accounting space. The automation and attention to detail in their financial statistics makes it all the more appealing.
Kilpfolio Dashboard is a desktop based application for easily monitoring key metrics within your company data from your desktop. Currently, it is available for the Windows platform only, but includes a powerful developer API allowing a multitude of data sources within (and outside) your organisation to be available directly within your dashboard. Functional dashboard widgets aka “Klips” provide out of the box functionality for your data, including sparklines, pie charts, funnels and more.. Real time information can also be pushed to the desktops of users within your organisation, including significant data movements, memo’s, or other short updates.
Klipfolio will undoubtedly provide many companies with the information they need at a glance, and in a way that is persistent, yet not intrusive – with the application integrating directly into the windows sidebar and retracting on demand.