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What Should My Business Intelligence Dashboard Look Like?

Posted By Erika Pecora, Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, Friday, April 18, 2014

How a Business Intelligence Dashboard Can Keep Your Organization on Target

by: Tony Marinaro

Microsoft Dynamics GP Business Intelligence Dashboard

Dashboards are nothing new. We encounter them almost every day in one form or another. In our physical world, we see them on the cars we drive. On our phones, tablets, and computers we see them and rarely even recognize them. In one sense, we even carry primitive dashboards on our wrists in the form of watches.

At its most basic, a dashboard is any display that shows the current status of anything. Our car’s dashboard tells us how fast we’re going, how far we’ve gone, and if anything is currently broken. Our electronic device dashboards show us connection status, notification flags, and current battery charges. Our watches, and almost every other device, shows us the current time in the context of our locale and culture.

A business intelligence (BI) dashboard has the same purpose as any of those other dashboards: to provide up to the minute operational information at a glance.

Does Every Business Need BI and a Dashboard?

Yes. And probably more than one. The information displayed on a dashboard helps you monitor your organization’s current status to make informed decisions that affect the future of your business.

Let’s take a step back to examine the components that make a BI dashboard.

Breaking Down the Components of a BI Dashboard

Like every other organization, your organization has data. Data are simply recorded facts. You probably have it stored in a database somewhere. The data is of limited use while it simply resides, so we write reports. Reports are a collated display of our data. They are historic information. While reports are certainly an essential tool, they are frequently long and complex.

Imagine if your car speedometer displayed the raw data it is actually recording: the frequency of wheel rotation. That data is useful to us only when used in an extrapolative calculation that gives us context. The calculation for a speedometer is along the lines of “If the wheels continue to rotate at this rate over the course of one hour, then the vehicle will have travelled 60 miles.”

Business intelligence does the same for key pieces of operational data: “If stores continue to sell the number of units per day that they are currently selling, then in the next seven days we will have sold 350 units.”

These calculations are called “Key Performance Indicators (KPI).” They put data into the context of a goal to determine whether the goal will be reached. KPIs are one component of a useful dashboard.

Your organization probably has a few operational units or departments. It has also been in operation for some length of time. In a simple example, these two pieces of data can provide context for any other data we have collected. In the BI world we call them “Dimensions.”

Dimensions are hierarchical categories that can be used to filter and aggregate our data. Continuing the previous KPI example of units sold in a store, we can use dimensions to show the number of units sold in a specific month or by a specific department. Dimensions are used on dashboards to change the context of the displayed data.

“Measure” is the BI term for the actual data that is being filtered, aggregated, and displayed. Most organizations have many measures to display. Units sold is a measure. Value of those units is another. Costs, units produced, number of employees, rate of turnover, etc. are all measures. Any data value that can be aggregated can serve as a measure.

The Power of a BI Dashboard

A dashboard places measures, KPIs, and report summaries on a single, interactive screen with dimension selectors to alter the view. The measures can be displayed as tabular data or in graphical format. KPIs are frequently displayed as simple graphics such as a traffic light or a needle gauge.

As a whole, you can tell exactly how your organization is running by a quick glance at a dashboard. A dashboard enables you to make informed business decisions without reading lengthy reports.

But dashboards aren’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Even within a single organization there is typically a need for several dashboards. The HR department doesn’t need to see how many units are coming off the manufacturing floor any more than the manufacturing floor manager needs to know how many employees are using the new self-service payroll. When asking, “What should my dashboard contain?” there is no single answer; there is a process.

Can My Current Software Accommodate My BI Dashboard?

Software solutions like Microsoft Dynamics GP, Sage 300 ERP, and many other packages offer BI templates and tools within the programs or as free add-ons. These prebuilt dashboards offer an ideal starting point. After using them for a short time, you will know what you’d like to see, what you never need to see, and what isn’t useful to you, but might be useful to someone else in your organization.

Dashboard Development is a Process

After making, or having a BI consultant make, those changes to your dashboard you will have a more useful tool tailored to your specific needs. Over time, you will iterate through this process, tuning and streamlining your dashboard each time. A dashboard will only get better as it evolves, so the time to get started is NOW.

For Help

If your organization doesn’t have a BI dashboard, or has one that needs tuning, contact us here, or at 410.685.5512, to see how we can help.

You might also be interested in our whitepaper, “Making Sense of Business Intelligence: How to Get Started with the Right Business Intelligence for You.” Download it here.

Examples of Dashboard Templates

Generic dashboards (WikiCommons)

GP in Excel

Sage 300 via Sage Intelligence in Excel

Tags:  business intelligence  technology 

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TechAwards 2014 Wrap Up

Posted By Kris Shock, Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, Monday, March 31, 2014
Updated: Monday, March 31, 2014
What a night for Tech! We're still buzzing from last week's TechAwards 2014: Get in the Game!

The 9th Annual TechAwards celebration held on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 from 5:30 to 9:00 pm at the Hilton BWI Baltimore Hotel welcomed more than 350 tech minded-executives and honored the region’s rising tech companies, outstanding innovators and all-around top "geeks".

One more big thank you to Title Sponsor, last year's Tech Company of the Year, Mindgrub Technologies.

Congratulations TechAwards 2014 Winners!
Click here for the 2014 Finalists and Legend's Circle Honorees Press Release

 Legend's Circle Individual
Freeman A. Hrabowski III, President, UMBC
Legend's Circle Company
Tech Company of the Year
 Rising Star
Best Place to Work
 Woman in Tech
Jan Baum
Future Innovator
Duncan Squires

The TechAwards celebration speaks to the very core of our mission – but it is just the beginning.

The CRTC is proud to help technology professionals throughout the Annapolis –Washington–Baltimore tech-triangle leverage the strength of the Chesapeake region as a whole, to realize our true potential.

We do this through large programs like the TechAwards; and we also serve our mission through a diverse array of Forum programs such as this Wednesday morning at AACC in Arundel Mills with a Joint Workforce and Cyber Forum program on Cyber Risk Management for Professionals and next week's B2G Forum Meeting: Developing a Government Sales Strategy in Washington DC. At the end of the month we will offer the the Q2 Tech Talk Beyond Big Data: Right Information, Right Person, Right Time in Baltimore.

These are just a few examples of the robust program we provide to lend the strength of our organization to connect technology innovators and business leaders each and every day. We couple this programming with an online socially connected community platform we affectionately call “the machine” to keep connections and opportunities flowing throughout the region in between the in-person programs.

Whether you were able to attend the TechAwards or not, we invite you to join us in our mission to help the Chesapeake region fulfill it’s great potential; we invite you to Get in the Game with the CRTC to make Maryland rock for tech!

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Awards  Maryland Tech  membership  networking  recognition  tech talent  TechAwards  technology  value 

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Insiders Look at HealthTech Innovations & Trends Wrap-Up

Posted By Lindsay Powell, Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, Friday, March 14, 2014

Did you enjoy yourself last Friday at the TechTalk: Insiders Look at HealthTech Innovations & Trends? Well, we certainly did! Special thanks to the Chesapeake Innovation Center and Anne Arundel Medical Center for their contribution and support in delivering such a spectacular event!  

The panelists did a fantastic job educating the group on how emerging technologies are changing how "state of the art" health care is delivered. The expert panelists covered numerous topics in the areas of simulation and innovation technologies, emerging cancer treatment technology and electronic medical records.  While the information discussed was advanced and highly educational, the panelists were able to make their presentations fun and easy to understand. But the fun didn’t end there…

As if the invaluable presentations weren’t already enough, a private tour of AAMC's new James and Sylvia Earl Simulation to Advance Innovation and Learning Center (SAIL) was given at the end of the event. Talk about going out with a bang! If you ever get the opportunity to check out Anne Arundel Medical Center’s SAIL Center, we highly recommend it. You will be absolutely blown away by the technological advancements and capabilities.

If you weren’t able to make this TechTalk but are interested in the topic and/or involved in the HealthTech field, no worries! This event was just a preview of more to come! Stay tuned…

Click here to read press about the event.

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To get more -- get SOCIAL

Posted By Kris Shock, Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, Thursday, March 06, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 06, 2014

Q: How do you get a regionally diverse network to connect on a regular basis and grow valuable relationships?

A: Provide a powerful online community enabled by rich social tools to drive virtual connections and value in addition to a broad menu of in-person meeting opportunities.

That’s the belief that inspired us more than two years ago to launch the interactive CRTC Online Community we affectionately call “the machine.” To get exponentially more value form your CRTC investment we urge you to “feed the machine” by leveraging the built-in social tools available in the online community.

Here's how:

Start with your profile

First, tune-up your settings. Post your logo to your Corporate Profile and your photo to your personal account. Add a detailed description of your company to your corporate profile and be sure to check off all your capabilities, designations and NAICS codes; this is how potential clients and partners will find you through the robust search capabilities of the machine. Do you want Members to have access to your email or would you rather keep that private? All of those controls are up to you.


Get Social

We’ve got your network – If you are already connected on LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social network simply add that network to your CRTC profile to drive exponential value across all of your social networks. Just click to add the networks you are already on to your profile; then click to view all of the CRTC members currently on various social networks. Cross networking has never been so easy! You can also add your Twitter stream to your profile page to add real-time content on your CRTC presence.


Add a Dose of Strategy

Does networking sometimes feel like a “crapshoot”? Put the machine to work for you in advance of attending a CRTC event and get more tangible benefit. Each CRTC registration page features a handy “View Registrations” icon where you can search the rosters to see who’s already signed up. If you are logged into your Member profile you click right through to view profiles of registered member attendees. Who are the ideal connections for you to meet? Are there folks you’ve been meaning to catch but keep missing? Reach out to folks you know in advance of an event to be sure you catch up at the event or ask CRTC Staff or your assigned Ambassador for an introduction to folks you would like to meet.


If all of this sounds great but you’re not even sure how to login – contact us today to set up a brief call when you are at your desk and learn how to GET MORE today.

For a deeper dive on these and more benefits of CRTC Membership, join us for the next Member Workshop.

Tags:  LinkedIn  membership  networking  social  technology  Twitter  value 

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Pleased to Moderate the Bisnow Power Women in Tech Event

Posted By Kris Shock, Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, Friday, February 21, 2014


Tech Bisnow (DC)

Why Women Belong in Tech



One thing we know about the near future: women in tech leadership positions will increase. How that will play out was on the minds of everyone this morning at Bisnow's Women in Technology panel at the Willard.

Click here to read the article


Tags:  careers  networking  tech  women in tech 

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