In past Dashboard Spy posts, we’ve discussed the growing importance of Microsoft Excel as a serious business intelligence dashboard tool. Because of its ubiquity and role as lingua franca between business units in the enterprise, the recent expansion of Excel’s dashboard capabilities has an importance to us BI dashboarders for years to come. Of particular interest are things like the enhanced conditional formatting and dashboard status icons / indicators.
Add to the mix some cutting edge data visualization tools such as the sparkline charting products (Microcharts 3) from BonaVista Systems and incredibly detailed instructional books such as Excel 2007 Dashboards and Reports for Dummies, and you have the makings of a business power user revolution in visual business intelligence (e.g. dashboards).
The recent announcement by BonaVista Systems of an Excel Dashboard contest brought several thoughts to mind. First, of course, was the anticipation that this event will allow us to see what fellow dashboarders are currently doing with Excel in terms of dashboarding. Second was an interesting thought spurred by the first prize in the contest – an Apple iPhone. They show a small thumbnail of an iPhone mocked up with a Microcharts powered sparkline dashboard. That was neat (and it gave me inspiration to create a larger version of the iphone business dashboard shown below), but what really made me think was the caption “more information per pixel”. I thought that the phrase sums up neatly the sparkline approach to data visualization.
Let’s take a look at the iPhone dashboard I mocked up and then I’ll share some details of the Excel dashboarding competition. It’s still open, so I encourage all Dashboard Spy readers to enter.
Is this the future of Excel dashboards?
Before we look at the details of the Excel Dashboard contest, have a look at some of the Microchart graphics that you can use in your dashboard:
Click on the more link to learn about the excel dashboard competition: