The importance of multiple outputs in KPI dashboards

Last Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 by Johnathan Briggs

With the advances in technology, the business landscape is being changed at a rapid pace. No longer is business confined from Monday to Friday, 9 till 5. More than ever, business people want fast, safe, convenient access to their KPIs.

While in-house business dashboard software offers many great features, this growing need for constant access is more readily available from online dashboard software. KPIs cannot be shared outside of the internal network which is how in-house software works. This is why online dashboards must take advantage of secure internet storage in allowing multi-platform accessibility.

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This article will discuss the significance of three business platforms, and why it is important that dashboard software be available for them.

Smartphones

The mobile phone is fast becoming a platform where business is regularly done. At present (and as I am sure this blog’s readers are all aware), we are in the age of the smartphone. Smartphones have become so commonplace that we now live in an environment where children run around with phones that seem more powerful than some laptops (including my own)!

On a more serious note, smartphones have allowed modern business people to basically carry their businesses with them. The powerful display technology available lends itself well to displaying and sharing content on the move. Smartphones have also seen a rise in the use of email via mobile (though this innovation predates the smartphone concept), allowing managers to not only receive information whenever they want, but also display it in total confidence.

Due to this prevalence of internal communications on phones, web dashboard software is poised to be a useful asset to employees who have to communicate data to managers; this is because information has the potential to be misinterpreted over a phone conversation. Provided that your online dashboarding software is optimised for mobile screens (like Target Dashboard is), this information can be accessed securely, from any location, and without the need to download vast quantities of data.

Tablet Computers


An evolution of touchscreen smartphone technology, the iPad and other variants of the ‘tablet computer’ have been adopted by businesspeople of all industry sectors, from farmers to corporate executives. In fact, companies who ordered iPads for their employees did so to increase productivity, as a recent survey showed . Even if you don’t fully believe that a tablet computer can achieve this single-handedly, there are a couple of things which you should remember that iPads and tablets are really good at.

1. Portability – Think of an iPad as a portfolio containing any piece of a company’s information. Now make it lighter than a can of coke. Increased portability in tablet devices has made them convenient for any scenario, whether that’s being on a flight, out in the field, or at a meeting.

2. Size – As mentioned above, tablets have the capability of storing a vast quantity of information. However, the main advantage they have over smartphones (of which many can be modified to allow a similar storage capacity) is that their display screens are similar in size to a piece of paper. This makes them ideal for managers, as the larger display gives viewers confidence in the accuracy and readability of information.

With these points in mind, you can see that tablets can be useful multi-purpose business tools, including data visualisation, which is a distinct advantage to people who must maximise their time. Factor in online browsing to this mix, and online dashboarding software almost seems a must for tablet computers. As I discussed in a previous blog post, the future of business will be less location-based. This means that kpi management dashboards will almost certainly be used and needed by mobile or remote businesspeople, and will have to adapt to these emerging needs.

Paper Format

Perhaps unexpectedly for this blog post, I would like to remind readers of an important format which dashboard software must also cater to. The paper format, which might go overlooked next to the high-tech wizardry of the former two, is still far from obsolete in the business world. In fact, I’m confident that paper will never be fully replaced, no matter our technological advances. Paper copies will still be useful to managers for a number of reasons, the first being that paper copies are usually clearer to read than a screen (screens output at around 70 pixels per inch, which printers print at around 300 dots per inch).

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Often, managers like to read a copy of a management report before a meeting, and often make their own notes for discussion too. This can be difficult to do on a mobile platform, making the ability to produce a KPI report on paper all the more valuable.

Picture the situation then. A busy manager on a train views his KPIs from his smartphone. He then walks into his office lobby, where KPIs are displayed on a large monitor, or public display, to motivate employees. An employee then hands him a KPI report on paper, which he annotates and takes into a meeting, where he then uses his iPad to easily browse through data and spot important trends or drill-down for additional detail.

With online dashboard software that can output to multiple formats, a business can allow KPIs to be available at the manager’s convenience.

Dashboard Software must meet the needs of multiple formats

As a crucial piece of business software, KPI dashboards play a large role in business decision making and management reporting. However, as this post has shown, business often happens away from personal computers, and therefore your performance dashboarding software must be able to reach these places to maintain your company’s efficiency.

Thankfully, we at Target Dashboard have not only considered mobile, tablet and paper formats, but have also optimised the software to give crystal clear dashboards in each of these formats. Regarding paper copies in particular, our paper reports of dashboards are not merely screen printouts, but are reformatted to make the use of printer clarity, as well as additional information which may benefit a report, such as the table from which the dashboard chart was created from.

In this post, I have outlined the the growing need for having KPI information wherever you are, and that you should consider this when building your own dashboards. Please check out our other blog posts for more information on everything dashboard.