What you need to know about BI dashboards

Business intelligence dashboards are information management and data visualization solutions used to analyze your data. Content creators can use interactive elements like filters and actions to combine charts, graphs and reports in a single screen for snapshot overviews. Dashboards are one of the most popular capabilities of BI platforms because they present easily understandable data analysis, allow you to customize which information you want to view, and provide a way to share the results of your analysis with others.

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The purpose of a BI dashboard

Dashboards are integral to an organizations’ business intelligence strategy. They should be purpose-built and designed to analyze data from key datasets, to improve business decisions. Instead of analysts manually compiling spreadsheets, modern BI platforms can access, analyze, display, and share data via web-based dashboards. With a powerful, automated business intelligence tool, stakeholders can build dashboards to review, draw conclusions, and act.

BI dashboards vs. BI reports

Dashboards and reports are critical for business intelligence, and dashboards can help users understand complex reports. Dashboards are ideal for stakeholders who need at-a-glance overviews of performance. Reports are for stakeholders who need more details and who want to slice and dice data to uncover insights.

Key differences between dashboards and reports

Dashboards and reports can work together to give a comprehensive view of trends and insights, but they are different. Dashboards can be updated in near-real time using cloud-based technology. They tend to be visual and interactive, allowing the user to engage with the information and create their own analyses. Reports, on the other hand, are static—they offer detail, but the end user must extract insights from a compilation of data.

Key features of BI dashboards

Modern BI platforms offer a lot of the same key features, with many real-world dashboard examples showcasing some or all of these:

  • Customizable interface
  • Interactivity
  • Ability to pull near real-time data
  • Accessible from a web browser
  • Standard templates
  • Sharing capability to foster collaboration

All of these features contribute to the goal of BI dashboards and lead to overall benefits for the users and for the organization.

Benefits of BI Dashboards

Business intelligence dashboards enable organizations to make complex data easily understandable and approachable for non-technical users. IT may create content as a starting point, business users can create and view their own dashboards. Self-service BI empowers non-technical users to interact with data. Chipotle used dashboards to create a unified view of their restaurant locations and streamlined their analytical processes.

Dashboard-driven data visualizations can help business users identify trends. They can alert to positive trends, isolate negative trends, and offer predictive insights. When Charles Schwab made it possible for thousands of bank branches to create their own dashboards to track performance, they were able to track customer satisfaction with their products without analyzing pages of spreadsheets.

BI dashboard design best practices

There are a variety of training courses for designing effective BI dashboards to align with industry best practices. Keep these in mind when designing your own BI dashboards:

  • Design for the target audience. Customize the dashboard so that the target audience has only relevant information.
  • Provide context. Ensure that data—like sales or profit—includes essential milestone dates or year-over-year comparisons so stakeholders are able to understand trends.
  • Drive actionable insights. Ensure the visualization displays information that helps stakeholders make decisions.
  • Avoid clutter. Less is more! Don’t pack too many visual elements into one dashboard.

Tableau offers training, including videos for creating and optimizing dashboards to help users become proficient with our platform. Read more about analytics best practices in Tableau Blueprint.

Evaluating modern BI solutions

Modern BI approaches will favor tools that can make data analysis more approachable and interactive for users of all skill-levels. Combining business goals with data can transform your business into a data culture. Learn more about choosing a business intelligence platform with our evaluation guide.