BAM – Business Activity Monitoring or Business Analysis & Monitoring Dashboards

Dashboard Design Topic: Helpdesk Dashboard

BAM!! Let’s kick up business dashboards a notch! No, this is not the Emeril show, it’s the Dashbaord Spy on BAM Dashboards. Traditionally, the “A” in BAM stands for “Activity”.  Gartner, who coined the term, says it stands for Business Activity Monitoring. I happen to like that definition best. However, there seem to be other variants out there including what the creator of these dashboards call “Business Analysis & Monitoring”.

What is the difference between BAM dashboards and non-BAM dashboards? Here is an interesting comparison between BI dashboards and BAM dashboards as written by someone on wikipedia:

The term refers to the aggregation, analysis, and presentation of real time information about activities inside organizations and involving customers and partners. Although BAM systems usually use a computer dashboard display to present data, BAM is distinct from the dashboards used by Business Intelligence (BI) in that it has three distinct characteristics not found in BI tools:

  1. BAM systems are driven by business events, fed directly from integration software or from Business Process Management most software applications and do not query databases; some companies, like Syndera can read DB logs directly.
  2. BAM systems are real time where data displayed is not dependent upon a user refreshing a query or a query scheduler;
  3. BAM systems are process oriented.

The goals of Business Activity Monitoring are to provide real time information about the status and results of various operations, processes, and transactions so business decisions can be informed, quickly address problem areas, and re-position organizations to take full advantage of emerging opportunities.

Typically BAM software is capable of, for example, providing real time visibility into how business events such as orders, process queues, network failures, database overloads, etc.) affect the progress of business transactions, permitting real-time business decisions in response to system events – e.g., rescheduling business process instances that have stalled as a result of a credit reporting service slowdown, automate real-time notification of violation or pending violation of business-level policies, and provide statistics on business process performance.

Isn’t that a great piece of writing? Anyway, back to our BAM dashboard example. Below we look at a couple of dashboards from that show the status of the business systems powering various business functions. These screenshots show the challenge of how to roll up the various KPI levels. The first screenshot shows simply the CRM, HelpDesk Dashboard, ECommerce, Email and Financials applications.

BAM Dashboard Business Function Level

The next BAM dashboard screenshot drills down and reveals the KPIs of the constituent systems that make up the beforementioned applications. The big red/green/yellow indicator lights are kind of cute, but I think overwhelming. Too much real estate taken up for my tastes.

BAM System KPI Dashboard

If you drill down into the applications, you get a display like this one for the HelpDesk application dashboard:

BAM helpdesk

If you continue to drill down and produce a report, it looks like this dashboard screenshot:

BAM graph

There is another option that lets you view status by servers. This consolidated server panel makes much better use of real estate than the big light approach before that I didn’t like.

Consolidated Server KPI dashboard view

Homework: It is difficult to buy books about BAM. The closest way is to do what I did and have Amazon show me Books that contain the phrase Business Activity Monitoring. Followup: Read this article on the state of the art of BAM dashboards.

So what or who is The Dashboard Spy? As his about page states, The Dashboard Spy is just a guy interested in the design of enterprise dashboards. He could not find any executive dashboard design source books (or even screenshots of real business dashboards) and so set about creating his own. Finally convinced to post his extensive collection of dashboard screenshots online, he was amazed to find how popular it has become. If you have a nice screenshot of a digital dashboard, balanced scorecard, or any business intelligence graphic to share, please send an email to info _at_ Also check out The Dashboard Spy’s favorite books on business dashboards.

PS: If you find yourself part of an enterprise dashboard effort, you must study Enterprise Dashboards: Design and Best Practices for IT, the only book on actually implementing enterprise dashboards.

4 thoughts on “BAM – Business Activity Monitoring or Business Analysis & Monitoring Dashboards

  1. When we talk about BAM, we need to emphasize
    the first word – business. These dashboard examples are monitoring IT systems, not the activity of the business in a way the line of business can gain insight, respond and improve.

    The examples may have novel visualizations but
    the information displayed is very traditional – from the systems management domain of vendors such as BMC, CA, Tivoli,etc.

  2. I agree with you. A lot of vendors are jumping on the BAM wagon by merely calling their products by a different name. It’s too easy to equate business functions with the supporting systems. A specific business activity may be enabled by more than one system, but you won’t see a roll up across these systems. It’s much easier to just display the conditions of the separate applications. Again, it’s the techie view (server level) versus business user view (business function). Thanks for the input. The Dashboard Spy.

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