Sunday, 3 January 2010

Dashboards Centre from SAP BusinessObjects

Firstly, let me wish you a Happy New Year for 2010!

Not only a new year, but a new decade where we exit what some called the "noughties" and enter what some have already coined the "teenies". Whatever the name we all agree or disagree on, the rise and rise of Business Intelligence (BI) over my last decade at BusinessObjects and now at SAP BusinessObjects is undeniable.

For me, the main reason for BI becoming so popular is that it is so intrinsically linked to what has been the number one priority for C-Level executives for some time; Business Process Transformation. Without good BI, a business cannot make agile, accurate, efficient or effective decisions, and cannot hope to link their strategy with effective and efficient execution.

The very real need for a line of sight for each and every employee to identify what they can do to directly and positively impact an organisations strategy through to execution has become a reality we can't afford to ignore. Doing so will give our BI savvy competition a fantastic gift; a distinct business advantage.

When I began with BusinessObjects in 2000, we had around 4 products; Supervisor, Designer, the eponymously named full client query, reporting and analysis product, BusinessObjects and the new kid on the block; WebIntelligence. We've come a long way and now cover such a depth and breadth of BI with our platform that irrespective of whether your data is internal, external, owned by you or not, whether it is structured or unstructured, we have the ability to place it in the hand of the consumer in whatever means they wish.

But, there is still a long way to go for many organisations to make the line of sight between strategy and its execution a given rather than an aspiration.

Technology alone cannot help. It needs to be an enabler rather than technology for technologies sake.

As the message of good dashboard design spreads, hand in hand with some of the stronger partner offerings such as Antivia's XWIS (, the community that once was just a handful of early adopters now is flourishing. With Twitter, Facebook and a variety of other social networking sites are becoming so popular that they can't be ignored as merely a spare time distraction, groups like Xcelsius Gurus present an online community that microblogged, amongst other things, almost instantaneous feedback on the latest service pack (SP3 at time of writing) as soon as it was released. Is this dashboarding at the speed of thought? If not, it's certainly tending towards it!

Well, to kick off my New Year, I wanted to tell you about the new addition to the Dashboards Centre site ( from SAP BusinessObjects.

In the Video section (, there is a 30 minute presentation I put together where I uncover some often overlooked approaches to designing dashboards that really deliver on their potential by focusing on a fundamental goal – Communication.

You can directly view this video here where I present some practical, hands-on guidance on identifying areas for improvement and avoiding some of the pitfalls of dubious dashboard design!

This video doesn't seek to look at the mechanics of connecting live data to a dashboard, or the technicalities of setting up something like a hierarchical drop down. It's really focused on helping communication within a BI Dashboarding sphere and to push towards making that line of sight between strategy and its execution a reality.

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