written by
5000fish Team

What is a Dashboard?

Dashboard Build 5 min read

For years, you’ve heard about the importance of data. Customer data can be used to reach more people, build retention and increase sales. Business data can be used to manage your team, drive productivity and improve your partnerships. You’re researching dashboards because you have data and you want to effectively grow and manage your business better. But what is a dashboard, and how can it help you analyze data? In this all-in-one dashboard guide, we’ve compiled the information and answers you need to solve the looming questions that surround modern business intelligence software.

Data is the solution—and the problem

Data is widely considered the end-all, be-all of your business woes. Utilize data the right way and you can overcome problematic obstacles, create meaningful customer relationships, and solve a variety of resource and productivity issues. The problem with data, however, is that it can accumulate and spread so rapidly that it becomes impossible to sort the good data points from the bad. The preparation involved in connecting multiple data sources means you might end up losing key figures or missing important insights. And even with plenty of data available, most people don’t have a clear understanding of what could or should be done with their data. There’s no obvious way to utilize it. Before examining how data dashboards can help you, let’s take a look at three of the most common issues businesses face when they begin collecting data.

1. Data sprawl

One of the biggest issues people face when collecting data is the sheer amount of information that can build it. Like the boxes stored in a garage, we tend to forget why we bought and collected certain items in the first place (let alone what we were planning to do with them). We call this problem data sprawl. Data is scattered around you. It’s difficult to track and nearly impossible to analyze. Most businesses that collect data will experience data sprawl at one point or another, and it can put an abrupt end to data collection before valuable data is even identified and put to use.

2. Data preparation

Unfortunately, data sprawl is only part of the problem. The other part is data preparation. Data comes in different formats, and these formats aren’t easily queried or reportable. Before data can reveal any beneficial insights, it first needs to be organized and prepared in such a way that makes it easy for reporting. Although dashboards offer real-time access to multiple data sources and data file types, most of the time data needs to be “massaged” into a proper format for a dashboard to report on it.

3. Data wisdom

The final problem with data is knowing exactly how to use the data you’ve been collecting. This is referred to as data wisdom (or the lack thereof). You know data is the answer, but you’re concerned about following your gut instinct. Data can grow your business and help manage your team, but without knowing how data can be used to accomplish those goals, you’d rather take your chances without a dashboard and hope for the data to make actionable sense at some point in the future. Then there’s the cost of dashboard software. You may know how data can be used, but your fearful of the cost and potential long project cycles of trying to implement a dashboard successfully. Trust us: a dashboard for your data is essential. It works. And we’re going to show you exactly why and how a dashboard will improve your business.

What is a dashboard? What can it do for you?

What is a dashboard? In essence, dashboard software collects all of your data from various sources and provides at-a-glance reporting of each performance metric. It presents your data in one place and increases your ability to identify beneficial insights. The primary and exclusive focus of the dashboard is to be able to:

  • Securely present the info to all the various stakeholders who need to see it.
  • Allow them to interact, drill down, filter and explore data for decision making and analysis.
  • Reflect the most accurate data available (subject to data sprawl and data preparation constraints).

Although dashboard software tackles the biggest problems that come with collecting data, it doesn’t immediately solve them, either. It can tackle data sprawl and connect to multiple data sources (though not all). It can do some of the prep work to alleviate data preparation, like transforming formats or aggregating data. But even then, a dashboard won’t tell you what you can do with all of your data. That’s where we come in.

We’re dashboard software experts, and we’re here to help

We’ve been burned by the data sprawl, data preparation and data wisdom before. We know how it feels when data is all over the place and you can’t get to it because of security concerns, lack of technical resources or lack of budget. There’s nothing worse than knowing the answer is right in front of you but still out of reach. Over the past 8 years, the team at 5000fish has helped hundreds of businesses of all sizes around the world help answer the questions they have regarding dashboard reporting technologies and reports. We’ve not only watched the industry grow and evolve over the years, but we’ve been active participants in developing better dashboard technologies. That’s why we’ve put together dashboard.build. It’s a collection of everything you need to know about dashboards—straight from the professionals that create it.

Welcome to dashboard.build

We’re going to walk you through a series of articles that explain the ins and outs of dashboard technology. From what is a dashboard to how each element in a dashboard works, dashboard.build is your guide for business intelligence software. You’ll learn about the different types of dashboards, how they fit into your business, how you can leverage them for a specific purpose, and even when and how to consider buying one. By the end of your journey, you’ll be a dashboard expert. 

Next up: Different Types of Dashboards

Not all dashboards are equal. There are three types of business dashboards: operational, strategic and analytical. Learn about the differences and similarities between each one, and the ways in which dashboards collect and organize valuable data.