2009 Year of the Mashup Dashboard

If poring over another year’s worth of business intelligence dashboards has taught me anything, it’s that the very form and structure of a digital dashboard is what gives it such value and utility. We’ve heard it said over and over from many a dashboard design guru that a dashboard should be a single page, easy-to-absorb, summary of your most key performance indicators. I agree that this “at-a-glance” nature of a business dashboard is its most core attribute.

Just as imagery can be such a powerful device in poetry, the snapshot that a dashboard provides can be the strongest call-to-action for corporate managers. Think of a dashboard as the haiku form of business intelligence. What is more compelling – a 30 page printed report or a handful of charts and alerts right there on the screen in front of you?

The fact that we are constrained by the screen real estate of a single page dashboard forces us to prioritize. During the dashboard design process, we are challenged to indentify the KPIs and metrics that most matter to us. The fact that we can only select 4 charts, for example, means that those 4 charts must be the most meaningful.

Looking through all those dashboard screenshots during this last year, however, has shown me that the world of dashboard content is limitless. What particular chart or metric shows up on my dashboard or your dashboard does not mean that it is what is desired by our coworkers. The content of a dashboard doesn’t even have to be driven by databases that we own. Dashboard portlets can contain navigation elements to other systems, mini applications, images or anything else of value to the user.

We have looked at the concept of enterprise dashboards as mashups. Many business intelligence gurus are forecasting mashups as a huge trend for dashboards in 2009.

A recent podcast by BriefingsDirect titled “Analyts Make 2009 Predictions for Enterprise IT, SOA, Cloud and Business Intelligence” examines the major trends for IT in 2009. Click on the link for the transcript and the podcast itself. Note the emphasis on mashup dashboards as part of “Extreme BI” as driven by end user needs.

We’ll see more BI become social networking, in the sense of mashup as a style of BI application, reporting, dashboards, and development. Mashups for user self-service BI development will come to the fore. It will be a huge theme in the BI space in 2009 and beyond of that.

Finally, let me point out that from the view point of the end user, dashboards in general (and mashup dashboards in particular) have become more accessible that ever. Without the intervention of the IT department, business users can create their own mashup dashboards right now.

We’ve looked at how easy and powerful Google Sites dashboards can be. Check out that link to see some awesome free dashboard templates from Google. We’ve looked at Google Sites for Project management dashboards as well.

On those earlier posts, we didn’t look under the hood at exactly how the Google Sites dashboards allow for mashup of content, so let’s take a quick peek now.

Here is the configuration mode for the Google Sites dashboard template. Note how each dashboard portlet can be configured with whatever content you want. Pick from whatever content you would find helpful on your personal dashboard. Truely, it’s a dashboard end users world now. Welcome to 2009.

Google Sites Dashboard Configuration

Tags: Configuration of Google Sites Dashboard, Mashup Dashboards, Extreme BI, business intelligence dashboards, year of the mashup dashboard