Dashboards have been around for many years, but it has taken time for their actual usage to catch up with their intuitive appeal. As business conditions become ever more volatile, however, and as companies lose what little margin for error they had in terms of responding to unpleasant surprises, interest in dashboards is accelerating. Companies are also starting to broaden the range of metrics they can access from dashboards, says David White, a senior research analyst at Aberdeen Group. While in the past senior executives might have focused solely on high-level metrics like sales revenue and profitability, they now use dashboards to track operational and tactical metrics.
One major appeal of dashboards, according to White, is that they can help executives narrow the "decision window" - the period of time they have to make a decision after a business event. A recent Aberdeen study found that 64 percent of business managers have seen their decision-making time shrink over the last year. A different Aberdeen survey found that 28 percent of business managers said they needed data to make decisions within an hour of a business event; another 42 percent needed information within a day.
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