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Aberdeen Group on the Value of Dashboard Visuals

November 2, 2011

Recently the renowned Aberdeen Group has been publishing a series of White Papers on the topic of Business Intelligence (BI), whereas they define Business Intelligence as:

“the combination of processes, disciplines, organizational capabilities and technologies associated with the collection and integration of performance data; providing access, visualization and delivery of actionable information via Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to business decision-makers”

One White Paper from this series focuses on the value of Dashboards as a reporting tool for BI. According to the Aberdeen Group the research carried out for that report shows that “organizations using Dashboards demonstrate far greater business performance improvements than those that did not”. This is a very interesting finding from our perspective given the definition of Dashboards as “a BI reporting tool that graphically represents KPIs on a single screen utilizing basic visuals such as charts, graphs, tables, and gauges”.  In other words, Dashboards are a form of visual communication and this latest report from Aberdeen is further support for the argument that visual communication can help companies improve their performance.

According to the Aberdeen report, the visuals used in Dashboards are intuitive and easy to understand, especially compared to more traditional, static views of data. Given that BI is about enabling decision-makers to access the information required as fast as possible, it is obvious how Dashboard visuals are extremely valuable for decision-makers. The fact that about 95% of all Best-in-Class performing companies in this research are using Dashboards, compared to only 55% of all other companies, further proves how valuable visual communication can be. This is especially true, when putting it in the context of the finding that Best-in-Class organizations are able to access the information they need to make decisions in the time required 93% of the time, while all others are only able to achieve this 49% of the time.

These findings relate back nicely to another post we published two weeks ago about Using visualisation to combat complexity in decision making.

Additionally, another Aberdeen report published in November 2010 titled “Operational Dashboards Drive Profits and Customer Retention” found that businesses that are using Dashboards throughout the enterprise were more profitable and enjoyed higher customer retention rates than companies that were using Dashboards less widespread.

The conclusion of these findings: Visual Communication (in the form of Dashboards in this case) can help companies to significantly improve performance.  More and more leading companies are realizing this trend towards using visuals for communication, not just in the area of BI and decision-making but also in manufacturing (e.g. visual work instructions), Service and Support (e.g. visual instructions for customers, visual maintenance instructions, etc.) and sales and marketing (e.g. visual product demonstrations, communicating product information visually to prospects, etc.).

You can access the full Aberdeen Report, “Migrating from Reports to Dashboards: Upgrading your Business Intelligence” here.

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