7 Business Dashboards That Offer Striking Data Visualizations

The more data you analyze, the more complex it gets. To help you find value in all that data, visualize it using one of these seven dashboard apps.

7 Business Dashboards That Offer Striking Data Visualizations

When data gets complex, there's no better way to understand it than a business dashboard. You can cull data from your website analytics engine, an Oracle database, social media campaigns and more, all to see how they interrelate.

Unfortunately, some dashboards are overly cluttered and actually make data more complicated to understand. The seven tools featured here use more color, graphs, clear delineations and white space to make data more understandable. The cost for using these dashboards varies depending on the number of sources you use, the amount of data you're analyzing and how many admin users you have involved.

John Brandon is a former IT manager at a Fortune 100 company who now writes about technology. Follow him on Twitter @jmbrandonbb.

Datameer
Datameer: Blank Canvas for Enterprise Data

One of the most flexible business dashboards available, Datameer runs in the cloud on the Hadoop platform. It works almost like a painting program — you start with a blank canvas and add modules as needed. There are data connectors for almost anything, including an Oracle database, Twitter and Facebook feeds, Salesforce.com or your own spreadsheet. (Check out the extensive list of structured and unstructured data sources here.) Even with this flexibility, Datameer still generates eye-catching visuals, including the image that shows how people click through a site, the pageview counts and the number of unique visitors.

[ Related: 10 More Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch ]

Beckon
Beckon: Compare All Elements of Your Marketing Campaign

Many large companies use a "touch 'em all" marketing approach: Buying banner ads, promoting products through Twitter and Facebook, running ads on television and almost everything in between. Making sense of this multifaceted marketing approach often requires visualizing the data. Beckon provides a dashboard that essentially creates a lush infographic. Senior-level marketers can glance to see how much each impression costs for an ad campaign, check the cost effectiveness of each campaign in a simple bar chart and even compare the effectiveness of an email campaign against social media or television ads.

[ Related: Marketers See Value in Big Data Analytics, But Face Hurdles ]

Tableau
Tableau: Make Mashups From Disparate Data Sources

Tableau desktop software, which also runs as a tablet app on iPad or Android devices, lets you mash up data from disparate sources such as Google Analytics, an Excel spreadsheet in accounting, Google BigQuery data, Sybase sources and many others. The highly detailed dashboard view shows rich data correlations, such as this example that shows subscriber data for specific regions on the East Coast to reveal market penetration patterns.

[ More: Splunk, Tableau Join Forces to Give Machine Data to Business Users ]

Geckoboard
Geckoboard: Web Analytics in Living Color

When it comes to Web analytics, the Geckoboard dashboard is easily the most visually striking. The key is in the use of color: Charts that show new visitor counts, overall pageviews and even blogging success can help a company track engagement. The tool supports an extensive set of widgets to build a custom dashboard — including those for CRM, email, project management, sales, accounting, social media and many others — also presented with visual clarity. The app runs on the Web or as an iPhone or iPad app; it can even run in a large-screen TV mode.

[ Commentary: How CIOs Can Help Facilitate Systems of Engagement ]

Curalytics
Curalytics: View Market Trends as Heat Maps

Seeing market trends in visual form usually takes some legwork. You might hire a chief data scientist to analyze reams of data on the Web to explain patterns in buying behavior, such as how a product is selling in the United States. Curalytics does this same analysis automatically by analyzing curated data. This includes lists, photo galleries, tagged data, wishlists, music playlists and anything that categorizes market preferences. The results look striking — essentially, a heat map that helps you see product segment interest according to geographic region. The tool also lets you curate the curators, seeing patterns of influence and influencer groups.

[ More: 8 Cool Heat Maps That Help You Visualize Big Data ]

Squarespace
Squarespace: Website Analytics at Your Fingertips

One of the most visually appealing dashboards, mostly due to its simplified approach, Squarespace runs on your iPhone or iPad. (There are Android versions in development.) You can visualize website analytics such as pageviews and how long people visit a certain page with a quick swipe of your fingers. Pie charts that show which browser or OS visitors are using form automatically when you collect the data. Another chart shows visitors during specific times of the day. It's a quick way to check the success of a company site.

[ Tips: 8 Ways to Use Web Analytics to Increase Online Sales ]

Domo
Domo: Business Intelligence Dashboard

Domo dubs itself a business intelligence dashboard, one that pulls data from various enterprise systems and lets users arrange them in blocks within their personalized dashboards. Operations staff, for example, can receive notifications of threats as well as opportunities, while sales staff can gain insight into customer purchasing patterns. As for business intelligence, Domo automates the data aggregation and calculation process, which lets BI teams provide stakeholders with timely key performance indicators.

[ More: 6 Business Dashboards That Help CIOs Manage Employees, Web Services ]