Today when someone mentions a dashboard, there’s a pretty good chance they are not talking about the very first dashboard which was simply a barrier of wood or leather fixed at the front of a horse-drawn carriage or sleigh to protect the driver from mud or other debris “dashed” (thrown) up by the wheels and horses’ hooves.
Chances are they are talking about the type of dashboard you would see today in business which displays key performance indicators (KPI’s) of how a business is performing or operating.
The KPI’s on this type of dashboard are graphically represented and organized to make them easy to read. These dashboards allow the end user the ability to quickly identify trends or anomalies in the data and to quickly see how their business is performing or operating at a high level.
We can easily see how these business dashboards got their name from the dashboards commonly seen in cars today.
Both are designed to allow you to get readings on a number of items quickly and easily.
The earliest car dashboards contained only a clock, a speedometer and an odometer.
Today, car dashboards give us much more information, are easier to read and are more interactive.
We see this same trend in business dashboards. The first business dashboards were static views of various measures of the business but were not very interactive. Today’s business dashboards provide a number of capabilities such as the ability to filter and sort data as well as drill down to the detail data behind the summary view, just to name a few.
Another trend we are seeing is dashboards being developed for personal use such as dashboards that help you monitor your finances, your physical activity and your health.
One of the best software tools I’ve seen for creating these types of dashboards is Tableau.
Tableau allows you to quickly and easily create dashboards that are visually appealing and highly interactive.
One of the neatest interactive features in Tableau is what Tableau calls “Actions”. This feature allows you to build into your dashboards filtering capabilities so that when you click on a certain data point in one area of your dashboard all other areas of the dashboard are filtered on this data point as well.
The dashboard has come a long way over the years.
It is reported that a number of carmakers are adding Apples iOS to their car dashboards in 2014. This technology will allow drivers to access internet apps such as Voice calls, Messaging, Maps and Music Player, simply by using voice commands.
It makes me wonder what the next generation of business dashboards will be like.
For more on how dashboards can help you get in shape, read Nick Bikas’ blog entitled Day to Day Data: Get Fit.