Dashboards: Not just for execs anymore

When people think of management dashboards, they often think of what used to be called executive information systems (EIS). An EIS provides a fancy computer display of key financial metrics for the corner office. But research by John Hagerty, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston, indicates that dashboards (also called scorecards) are showing up at all levels of the company and provide data other than financial metrics.

Call it the democratization of dashboards. Hagerty says they’re being used in a variety of departments, including customer service, manufacturing, sales, human resources and supply chain management. The big difference is that these dashboards provide operational performance metrics instead of financial statistics.

Message to Vendors: Don’t Get Too Fancy

Skip the bells and whistles, and just give customers the core business-intelligence capabilities, said Gartner Inc. analyst Bill Hostmann in a recent warning to vendors. “A vendor putting all of its resources into the latest, trendy technology is usually wasting its time and money,” he said.

Gartner’s study of the business-intelligence software market found that IT managers “are unimpressed by technology hype” and that they want some fairly straightforward things, such as:

1. Ad hoc queries

2. Access to multiple databases

3. Scalability

4. Ease of integration with back-office systems

In other words, Hostmann says, vendors should steer clear of fads, make scalability and integration high priorities and make ad hoc queries easier to do. Data-Quality Perceptions

IT managers are a bit more skeptical than business managers are about the quality of the data in their business-intelligence systems.

How confident are you in the accuracy and reliability of your business-intelligence data?

Corporate management:

Not at all confident 3 per cent

Somewhat confident 35 per cent

Very confident 62 per cent

IT management:

Not at all confident 4 per cent

Somewhat confident 48 per cent

Very confident 48 per cent

Base: Online survey of 121 corporate managers and 363 IT managers.

Source: IDC, Framingham, Mass., January 2003 Patent Watch

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