All companies produce data in some form – from the smallest to the largest, data is indivisible from modern enterprise. That’s why getting to know your data is a vital part of getting to know your business, and in turn, why business intelligence solutions are so valuable.

Dashboards are one of the fastest growing platforms in the business intelligence market, and for good reason. To put it simply, dashboards are visual representations of your company’s most important data. The name comes from their similarity to dashboards found in cars, both because of what they present and how they do so in real time. Where enterprise dashboards begin to differ (other than the fact that they likely have nothing to do with cars) is in the level of interactivity and customizability.

Designed with usability in mind, dashboards consolidate data to fit on a single screen, making key metrics available at a glance. The dashboard presents this data in visual elements like grids, charts, maps and gauges, which organize the information in a way that is infinitely more usable than the raw data found in spreadsheets. Dashboards allow people to monitor critical data in a way that’s quick and effective, providing the user with detailed analysis of key performance indicators, while simultaneously allowing the user to dig down into the data. From the dashboard, users can pull vital information from any department, while also eliminating the need to compile departmental reports into something comprehensive.

Cohesive view of Operations

Where decision-makers in the past would have had to spend time analyzing mass data, dashboard-enabled decision-makers are able to comprehend key performance indicators at a glance. Because of this, dashboards are taking over business intelligence, offering interactive reports and deeper insights into data. If you’re concerned that having all your data in one spot means sacrificing detail, fear not, because modern dashboards have the ability to gain more detailed information from a specific component by engaging with the visual elements.

Intuitive Visual Design

Going through raw data is an antiquated and time consuming method for taking stock of business analytics, and far from an ideal method for tracing irregularities to their sources. Problems or opportunities that are evident in a visual format can easily be lost in a mass of spreadsheets. Additionally, dashboards are designed to be intuitive to the user, requiring little training and allowing for smooth an easy navigation throughout visually represented data.

Time Saved

Decision-makers can easily end up spending hours each month creating reports, drawing from multiple systems and pulling data, taking them away from the work that matters. With the right dashboard, the latest essential reports can be found instantly, saving time and money. Even better, dashboards that are properly connected to all your systems (like those found in ERPs like PBE3) eliminate the need to pool reports and metrics from different departments, because the information is being drawn from all of your departments in real time.

Identify and Correct Negative Trends

If you can’t identify negative trends in your business, you can’t work to improve them. When information is presented in a single place, identifying problems becomes a natural, fluid process, in which you can immediately recognize patterns and draw on data. Additionally, the real time performance metrics offered by an effective dashboard allows you to make quick adjustments as negative trend emerges, rather than weeks or months after the fact.

Performance Improvements

Dashboards are able to communicate a company’s goals and direction, providing a rich understanding of the company’s ambitions and their progress towards goals. This understanding helps employees and decision-makers chart a focused and precise course. Furthermore, real time results tend to motivate people to be more productive, as it emphasizes the cause and effect of everyday tasks.

The Growing Popularity of Business Dashboards

Over the last few years the popularity of dashboards has increased significantly, going from a luxury exclusive to the largest corporations, to an accessible tool for small businesses. A lot of this popularity stems from the development of dashboards in terms of functionality and quality, as well as a less expensive implementation process, with some ERP vendors offering them as a core aspect of their platform. Dashboards save time and money, so as understanding of enterprise dashboards increases, so too does the breadth of its use.

Returning to the car analogy, we all understand that there are things you need to know in order to operate a vehicle safely and effectively, including information about your engine’s temperature, fuel levels, oil pressure –  and let’s throw in tire pressure, which may be in a different department, but is still vitally important. The car’s dashboard displays this vital data in a manner that is understandable at a glance, allowing you to get back to focusing on the road ahead. The same can be same for your enterprise dashboard, which presents you with key performance indicators in a fast and effective manner, letting you get back to steering your business toward a prosperous future, rather than a ditch while you fiddle around with archaic manual reports.