When you have reliable access to good data, making management decisions becomes easier. In IT, that is particularly challenging given the plethora of Web services, data repositories and network stores in a large company.
Fortunately, new advancements in data analytics and linking disparate services have given birth to new business dashboards, some so powerful they could change how you manage your operations. With one snapshot, you can see whether employees across IT are meeting departmental goals or quickly check if your corporate site is running on all cylinders. These new dashboards use colorful eye-catching charts to summarize data for managers who need to act fast.
Kapta: Track Employees' Progress Against Company Goals
Many business dashboards give you an overview of sales progress, CRM status or IT service levels. Kapta, meanwhile, shows a summary of employee goals. You can see how these goals—shown in an easily identifiable red, yellow and green—map to the overall company goals. For example, employees can set goals related to reducing IT budgets. You can then see a heat map that shows a breakdown by groups within IT and check, at a glance, the percentage completion rate. You can check for top performers against these goals—and see if any groups are running behind schedule.
Domo: View CRM, HR, Financial Data
Domo, the new business dashboard player in the market, is still under wraps; the company declined to provide any more info and prefers to "stay under the limelight" for now. What we do know is that the dashboard is geared to larger companies. You can view modules for CRM systems (likely Salesforce.com and others) and enterprise tools such as Oracle, peruse data from HR and even check company financials in one scorecard interface. The interface uses white blocks that you can stack up in the dashboard view with easy-to-track, color-coded data.
QlikView: Highlight Key Data, Gray Out Unimportant Info
This business intelligence dashboard recently showed how their analytics work by providing a free peak into the 2012 Summer Olympics. Using a simple dashboard, you could quickly see which countries had garnered the most medals and then drill into the data to see individual accomplishments. Like Domo, the dashboard links into enterprise data stores to help you see progress in a CRM campaign or check financials for a department. One differentiator is that the interface highlights key metrics in white and grays out less important metrics automatically. QlikView also stores summarized data temporarily to speed up (and compress) the analytics for multiple users trying to access the same data.
ChartBeat: View, Analyze Web Activity in Real Time
Focused primarily on your corporate site's Web activity (you can see a live demo here: http://chartbeat.com/demo), ChartBeat is a business dashboard shows you a summary of success. You can track the concurrent visitor counts, compare Web traffic against Twitter chatter, analyze how people are finding your site—say, by searching Google or clicking a link on Facebook—and see history of Web traffic at a glance. To use ChartBeat (as demonstrated in this demo video), simply insert a small code snippet into the header and footer of each Web page.
GoSquared: See Who's Visiting, Staying on Your Site
Like ChartBeat, this Web analytics dashboard uses an interface that looks like something you'd see in an Audi. Modules are black with bright colors to identify data trends. Graphs display current visitor counts (in a handy circular chart), referrals from other sites such as Google, which browser your site visitors are using and how long visitors typical staying on your site (a measure of stickiness). GoSquared also provides code snippets, but there are plug-ins for content management systems such as Joomla that let you load the extension and type in your site key.
GeckoBoard: A Management Tool for Online Management Tools
This powerful business dashboard is designed for those who operate a business mostly on the Web. While that might make it seem like the target market is small or medium-sized companies, many larger organizations gravitate toward online tools such as Prefinery.com (a beta management tool), Pingdom (to track the performance of a Web site) or GitHub.com (to track bugs in an application). GeckoBoard shows a summary of these Web services plus about two dozen more. The interface is subdued, like GoSquared, so that the data tends to jump out and is easy to identify and track.
John Brandon is a former IT manager at a Fortune 100 company who now writes about technology. You can follow him on Twitter @jmbrandonbb. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.