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Business Intelligence Dashboards: Everything You Need to Know

May 5, 2024

Did you know the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text? That's why data visualization and analytics tools are like a superpower for businesses. Imagine wading through endless spreadsheets and reports, losing out on precious time. No doubt it’s a time-consuming and frustrating task. Data visualization tools, like business intelligence dashboards, transform this data into clear, concise visuals, revealing trends and patterns that would otherwise remain hidden. 

Data Visualization in Business Intelligence

Data visualization and analytics tools like business intelligence dashboards help organizations, departments, teams, or processes to visualize key performance indicators (KPIs) and other important business metrics. In most BI software platforms, dashboards are a key component that delivers analytics information to company executives and workers.

Data dashboards and business dashboards are also sometimes used interchangeably. Business intelligence dashboards usually include multiple data visualizations to enable users to view relevant KPIs and trends for operational and strategic decision-making. Unlike static reports, interactive reports allow users to access the data behind charts and graphics for further analysis.

Regular business users and advanced data analysts benefit from dashboards to monitor operational health and gain high-level performance insights before further analysis in advanced tools. As a result, dashboards facilitate data accessibility and transparency across the business.

With the continuous evolution of embedded analytics, Ascend Analytics provides businesses with highly effective business intelligence dashboards. 

Types of Business Intelligence Dashboards

A dashboard can look, feel, and function differently depending on whether embedded in a BI platform or standalone. In addition, each type of dashboard has a different use case based on the user’s specific role or skill set. Let’s have a look at the Business Intelligence dashboard types.

Dashboards are typically divided into three types:

1. Operational Dashboard

The purpose of operational dashboards is to provide end users with the capability of monitoring specific business activities, events, or processes where data is constantly changing on a day-to-day basis. Users can make short-term decisions to optimize performance based on any changes they find immediately. Compared to traditional business dashboards, operational dashboards collect real-time data that reflects what is happening in the business at the time of consumption.

2. Strategic Dashboard

In addition to executive dashboards, these provide a quick overview of metrics that users need for monitoring business performance. By providing high-level summary reports of performance and forecasting changes in those measures, they provide insight to decision-makers into the challenges or opportunities the business may face. They are usually built from aggregated data – such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly views to highlight longer-term trends and patterns.

3. Analytical Dashboard

By using analytical dashboards, users can drill into the details of their data and perform root cause analysis. As they include more context, comparative analysis, and historical trends, they are typically used by business analysts and managers. An analytical dashboard is useful for manually analyzing changes, but insight discovery depends on the skill level of the user. Furthermore, they offer advanced analytical capabilities like automated business monitoring and augmented analytics.

You can interact with a live dashboard that follows best practices in real-time with test data sets in Ascend Analytics’ interactive dashboard gallery to better understand the use cases for dashboards.

What Are The Data Types in BI Dashboard?

  • Analytical Metrics: These metrics provide information about how many customers were lost or acquired, which products sold the most, or how much win rate you achieved.
  • KPIs: Evaluation of an organization’s performance is aided by Key Performance Indicators. Measures such as Revenue Growth, Gross Profit Margin, Net Profit Margin, Inventory Turnover, Operational Cash Flow, etc., give you an idea of how your business is performing.
  • Miscellaneous: BI dashboards offer a multitude of data types beyond the parameters mentioned above, including demographics of customers, Lifetime Value (LTV), market penetration, etc.

Features and Components of Business Intelligence Dashboards

Business Intelligence dashboards are a technology-driven approach to analyzing and visualizing data. 

These tools provide a multitude of features for automating functions and improving usability. Here are some of the key components and features of modern BI Dashboards.

Customizable and interactive interface

Users can create a dashboard that meets their needs using a customizable interface. As opposed to static Excel reports, BI Reports allow readers to access the data underpinning charts and graphics for further analysis.

Templates for dashboards

Standard templates streamline the design process and allow users to pull in historical and real-time data.

Data source connections

To consolidate data from multiple sources for analysis, BI dashboards can connect to Data Warehouses, Data Marts, Data Lakes, Operating Systems, and so on.

Data visualizations 

Users can display a variety of performance metrics using data visualizations; these include basic line charts and bar charts, as well as more elaborate graphics such as heat maps and scatter plots. The Benefits of BI data visualization are vast, helping users interpret data in engaging and fun ways, making the decision making process less tedious.

Drill-down capabilities

The Data Visualization feature enables users to see underlying data in more detail. By doing so, users gain access to additional visualizations and data tables, which are usually arranged hierarchically to allow them to drill down into the data.

Data filters

With data filters, users can customize the date and time ranges and geographical settings to get a more detailed view of the information being processed.

Text boxes and tooltips

In addition to text boxes, dashboards often include pop-up tooltips that provide context for the visualized data.

Sharing capability

You can share your analysis results with others using BI Dashboards. By implementing Data Visualization across the company, everyone is able to make use of its capabilities and collaborate with ease.

Dashboards vs. Reports

Data needs vary depending on your specific situation. Although dashboards and reports offer many benefits, each has its limitations. In terms of scope, each offers a distinct advantage. 

While dashboards can include any number of data points and sets, they are most effective when they focus on specific aspects of an organization. Dashboards can track help desk tickets, market share, investment portfolios, and other specific metrics.

A report, however, has a broader scope. A report can offer a higher-level view of an organization because it isn’t live and can be curated. Customer support dashboards may not be necessary for managers or CEOs, but they would benefit from knowing how all customer service departments function.

Data timeliness is the second key difference between the two. Generally, reports are broader and feature historical data. Since they must be delivered periodically, they provide snapshots rather than real-time information about a specific area or organization. 

In contrast, dashboards are designed to visualize and organize data in real-time. When certain metrics change or thresholds are reached, they can be modified to alert users.

A dashboard also enables users to manipulate and interact with data dynamically, while a report displays static information. In general, they are best for capturing daily analytics and business intelligence data, while reports are most useful for capturing static information. 

Also, dashboards are ideal for compartmentalizing metrics and functions and monitoring them more effectively.

Your choice of reporting tool ultimately depends on what you need right now. With dynamic and interactive capabilities, as well as timely updates, dashboards are unique. High-level reports provide a clearer picture of the cost of live data. Both are useful when necessary.

Benefits of Business Intelligence Dashboards

As you integrate advanced intelligence tools into your various strategies, BI dashboards organize data cohesively while alleviating any potential clutter. By using powerful visualization tools, you can interpret data and turn it into actionable insights that will benefit your business in a variety of ways by generating graphs, charts, and other powerful visual representations. 

Following are the primary benefits of business intelligence dashboards.

BI Dashboards Benefits
Trend identification

Businesses across sectors can improve their organizational efficiency by identifying positive trends and analyzing negative trends.

Increased efficiency

You should always base your decision-making on the right data – and a business analytics dashboard will enable you to do just that. Your success will be catalyzed by making informed, accurate decisions that are based on relevant, real-time insights.


To gain an edge over your competitors, you must also have accurate data for planning, analyzing, and reporting. Real-time access provides instant insight into how your business performs on an operational or strategic level. A timely and accurate information flow eliminates all guesswork and provides the basis for making informed decisions.

Interactive data visualization

There is a strong need to compile a centralized point of access where more data sources can be viewed in a clean way with instant insight as more data sources emerge. Excel spreadsheets have become so packed with information that making a business decision can involve endless scrolling and searching. 

In modern presentations, graphics are becoming the standard since humans process visual content faster than text. Graphs and charts are not enough; business users need interactive reports and interactive BI dashboards that provide instant, actionable insights into every step of their processes.

Self-service features

Modern self-service BI, powered by self-service BI features, can be implemented easily without requiring specialized IT skills. Consequently, people can share valuable performance metrics swiftly, which provides a level of agility and mobility that traditional data processes simply cannot offer.

Better communication 

There is no need to rely on static reports or email communication with interactive features. These powerful analytical tools can be easily shared with colleagues, managers, clients, and other relevant stakeholders to keep everyone informed and engaged with the latest developments. 

In addition to improving communication, this will also enhance collaboration and a data-driven culture within the organization.

Accurate forecasting

Another great benefit is the ability to predict future outcomes. Predictive analytics technologies provide a peek into the future by analyzing historical and current data to identify patterns and trends. By doing this, you can get accurate forecasts of product demand and plan ahead for production and strategies.

Real-time insights

Taking the right strategic decisions requires the latest data. This is exactly what BI dashboards do by providing real-time information. There is no need to update endless databases manually. Making accurate decisions is as easy as clicking a few buttons.

Freedom & flexibility

Based on our previous points, business intelligence dashboards are centralized and fully portable, allowing you to access and analyze valuable insights 24/7, wherever you may be. Freedom and flexibility contribute to increased productivity and a consistent level of business intelligence – two core ingredients of success.

Customer Intelligence vs. Business Intelligence

Customer Intelligence differs from Business Intelligence. 

An organization’s raw data is analyzed using business intelligence, which refers to a variety of software applications. In addition to data mining, online analytical processing, querying, and reporting, business intelligence is composed of several related activities.

A CIO uses business intelligence to identify inefficient business processes that are ripe for reengineering.

What is customer intelligence? It is all about analyzing customer data with the help of business intelligence. However, customer intelligence goes beyond software.

Customer intelligence is defined as: the assets, resources, and processes that enable a company to organize itself around customers and to create a positive customer experience across all customer touchpoints. 

As assets, resources, and processes improve, so does the level of customer intelligence and customer engagement.

Customer intelligence platforms are driven toward the value they can provide for the customers.

Moreover, customer intelligence dashboards aren’t just about collecting information. It’s about using that information to determine future developments, understand preferences, and formulate better strategies.

Customer data flows into your business via many channels, including website and app activity, purchase (and return) patterns, customer-initiated communications, and customer responses to previous communications initiated by your company. 

To create successful customer intelligence solutions, you must be able to gather all this information into a single repository that you can examine and analyze. A ‘360-degree view of the customer’ or a ‘single customer view.’


Analytics empowers businesses to become more data-driven. Though technology trends like data visualization, self-service, the cloud, and business intelligence have come and gone, insight from business data remains elusive to most companies. There is a lack of data dissemination, reports never leave IT departments, and insights remain with analysts.

Our focus is on technology for making analytics faster, more visual, and accessible from anywhere, but we ignore that business professionals aren’t interested in standalone analytics and dashboards. 

We can move dashboards to the cloud, animate charts, and make database queries simple for anyone. Many of those still sound like distractions to a business user.

Businesses want insights that will allow them to make smarter decisions. Rather than leaving their workflow and opening yet another application, they’d rather have answers wherever and whenever they need them. 

And this is what Ascend Analytics helps you achieve, so let’s speak. 

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