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Operational Dashboards vs. Analytical Dashboards

Transforming raw data into meaningful information and distributing it across an enterprise is an enormous task, which unfortunately, not all companies can afford to undertake. Hence, designing and adoption of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) mapping tool is usually the first step in changing an enterprise’s data definition strategy.

A dashboard, therefore, becomes the order of the day that can effectively filter out unwanted data and ensure proper and role-based metrics. A business dashboard can connect to multiple data sources and visualize each functional and operational metric that is convenient for end-users to consume in a meaningful and actionable manner.

Broadly, business dashboards can be categorized into two major types; Operational and Analytical.

Operational Dashboards

Operational dashboards monitor real-time operational data and send out alerts in case of deviations from acceptable standards. Business owners and project stakeholders can have a holistic view about the health of their business operations and get a handle of how far or near their business is from standard industry benchmarks.

Operational dashboards display KPIs that enable decision makers to identify emerging patterns and trends mined from past and present datasets, and eliminate inefficiencies and redundancies across the enterprise.

The key benefits of using an operational dashboard are:

  • Control activity and processes so they stay under acceptable limits
  • Real-time visual representation of data filtered according to roles
  • Provide root cause analysis of issues that adversely impact normal operational procedures
  • Provide a top-down and bottom-up view of the overall state of operation
  • Effectively manage rapidly changing performance metrics

For example, in geospatial engineering, an operational dashboard can integrate charts, maps, and graphs from different geographic datasets. In such situations, this type of dashboard can:

  • Create a one-stop view of real time information visualized in the form of maps and database tables
  • Configure histograms, pie and bar charts, scatter graphs to provide key statistical insights
  • Design customizable views of map data for use in mobile devices or multi-monitors

Analytics Dashboards

Analytical dashboards provide an end-to-end analytical view of present and historic data against a set of variables, and act as a barometer to the essential aspects of an enterprise. Analytics dashboards leverage inputs from various verticals and translate them into quantifiable entities that help in predictive modeling and analysis of measurable insights. These types of dashboards assist in visualizing data across a multitude of dimensions, and at the same time, reduce the dependency on the localized IT infrastructure.

The key benefits of using an analytics dashboard are:

  • On the fly, interactive what-if and visual analysis of data in the form of filtering, heat maps, scatter charts, geo mapping, etc
  • Caching of in-memory data to speed up processing of big data
  • Integration with web portals and seamless connectivity with 3rd party tools
  • Interactive reporting and output in most industry formats
  • Strict data security with multiple versioning of data
  • Algorithms to classify and cluster data according to patterns

For example, a web analytics dashboard helps in analyzing data like sales, page visits, unique visitors, etc., and helps identify key indicators that impact a website’s overall market strategy. In addition, a web analytics dashboard is intelligent enough to predict possible future events and suggest event-based solutions. This type of dashboard can:

  • Provide insights to visitors’ browsing and purchasing trends, and trigger machine intelligent algorithms to predict consumer behavior
  • Provide a statistical view of page views, visitors’ engagement, click metrics, etc.
  • Provide comprehensive customer analysis through geo-location tagging and country-wide metrics reporting

The best run businesses heavily rely on dashboards to get a 360° view of the various aspects of their enterprise. Depending on the situation and the result needed, an analytical or operational dashboard could justify a company’s overall return on investment (ROI).

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