In his book Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System, Bill Gates presents the concept of the fully integrated business digital dashboard. Very simply stated, these software amalgams allow executives and knowledge workers to get a snapshot, bird's eye view of the current status of the business. Depending on specific needs, a dashboard might include daily sales figures, current inventory levels for specific fast-moving products, accurate to-the-second profit and loss statements and any other data that is tracked and managed by your computer systems.
Sadly, these systems are rare. I have to date never encountered a business with a digital dashboard system deployed throughout the enterprise. In some cases it is because of excessive secrecy about company finances or an IT department that is unable to develop said systems. Whatever the reason, it is time for businesses to take this technology seriously and to take the necessary steps to deploying them. By giving your employees the information they need to make decisions will improve the quality of their decisions and reduce errors in the enterprise. Also, management will gain a substantial advantage by having the information they need at their fingertips through the normal course of the work day.
First you must decide what information you need at your fingertips. Don't go crazy! Focus on the data that you rely on day in and day out. Too many executives opt for Information Overload which turns an otherwise useful tool into a useless morass, not to mention it will drive your programmers insane. Just focus on the key indicators that make the difference. Once identified, agree to a simple layout that is easy to understand and fast to read. Now is also the time to include some analytical tools too. Remember, in the world of information technology, anything is possible as long as you are able to pay for it. Make sure that whoever is doing the actual work of developing your dashboard knows exactly what you want so there are no problems afterwards.
The more complex these systems get, the more expensive, but the benefits are enormous. If you start small you can build your dashboard slowly. This spreads out your costs over a longer term, making it much easier to absorb. Be sure to give development priority based on actual business needs, not on who shouts the loudest. These systems are invaluable for any knowledge worker. Download this free Digital Dashboard Development and Deployment Case Study for some specific details.
Companies with dashboard systems wonder how they managed without them. Give your business the tools you need for success by providing access to precious and necessary data. Do yourself a favor and research dashboard systems for your business. The information you can report is only limited by the data you collect.
The Free Digital Dashboard Case Study is in PDF format. You may need free software to view this file. R-Squared recommends the free FoxIt PDF Reader.
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