by Roger Stocker, CEO at Intuitive Business Intelligence
What is a dashboard?
A Business Intelligence (BI) dashboard is an interactive way to visualise and navigate through important business metrics and data. Typically a dashboard will give a high level view and from there the user can “drill down” to get more specific insights. The goal is to take a huge amount of data; possibly from different sources like your print management system, and potentially other additional data sources such as Excel; and present it in such a way that you can use the information to enable changes to be made.
It can be useful to think of a BI dashboard as a bit like the dashboard in your car. As you’re driving along you can quickly scan the dashboard in your car to determine how fast you’re going, how much fuel you have remaining, and what the temperature is outside. More over it will quickly highlight critical issues that will affect the performance of the car. Good BI dashboards have the same qualities in that they should provide meaningful visual insights without needing a huge amount of effort to interpret them.
So what makes a good dashboard?
Not all BI dashboards are good, and some are downright awful. What separates the good from the bad?
Many dashboards made the mistake of trying to provide too much information – A good dashboard should highlight the key issues that need addressing and allow the user to drill into a particular metric to get more granular and meaningful insights.
For example, in a good Print Management dashboard you can see the total colour printing volume for an organisation and then allow the person viewing it to drill down to view the top 10 employees who are printing in colour. Want to know more? The user can drill even further to discover how much colour is being produced by application (pdf, email, web printing, etc.).
This flexibility of choosing between a global view and more granular analyses on the fly is extremely powerful. Being able to present information in a visually pleasing way to understand things like expensive and excessive colour printing (and who is doing the most of it!) is invaluable.
Why use Print Management dashboards?
In our experience, analysing an organisation’s print usage and behaviour from the Print Management system is time consuming and extremely repetitive. Generating reports the old fashioned way through Excel and manually creating a report can take ages and can be highly error-prone. A traditional spreadsheet usually requires a great deal of hand-holding and explanation for the receiving party to get any use from it. Traditional report generation often leads to more questions which entail more work to answer. A good print management dashboard allows for questions to be answered on-the-fly simply by drilling further into information sets.
For example, dashboards can quickly answer questions such as:
- How can I identify expensive print hotspots?
- How can I improve the efficiency of my print estate to save costs?
- Which devices are being used most for colour printing?
- Which activities are creating demand for colour printing?
- What documents did that employee who recently resigned print before they left?
Are dashboards only for Print Management?
There are lots of other great uses for BI dashboards. Almost all industries and verticals are collecting mountains of data these days. Some common ones are for board level KPI briefings, account management reviews, HR analysis of staff turnover, and accounts payable automation management. There is hardly a vertical or industry that would not benefit from using BI dashboards to improve their understanding of critical business issues.
If you would like to explore how Business Intelligence dashboards can help your business, find out more or speak to one of Toshiba’s consultants. Toshiba are an accredited member of the Advanced Reseller Programme for Intuitive BI for PaperCut.