Dashboard system applications have been known in companies for several years. As the growing body of references shows, dashboards are now about to become more widespread, not only in numbers but also in terms of application areas (e.g., Eckerson, 2006; Few, 2006; Malik, 2005). The fact that almost every company is equipped with a great number of information systems, their infrastructure being largely dependent on software, supports the interest in high-level and condensed information representation. Originally, user interfaces and data representations of operational and administrative systems are not always designed for management-level use, so a need to bridge this gap develops. Based on information technology infrastructure and forced to act in a complex and contingent environment, most organizations feel the need to create high-level overviews for managing tasks. The idea of dashboards is aimed at helping to visualize large amounts of data in a condensed representation, providing a quick overview of organizational processes and supporting managers in their decision-making tasks.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Executive Dashboard or Enterprise Dashboard: This is the same as a digital dashboard with emphasis on the decision-making and enterprise level.
Decision Support System (DSS): DSS is an academic field that laid the foundations for dashboard functionalities in the 1970s, introducing the idea that computer technology could help managers to make decisions.
Executive Information Systems (EIS): EIS is an academic field that emerged as part of the field of DSS, investigating the executive level of digital information system applications.
Dashboard: In a horse-drawn wagon, the dashboard had to deflect mud and dirt. With the advent of the automobile, the term was used for the control panel under the windshield, containing all the important information for the driver to operate the vehicle.
Digital Dashboard: This is a business management tool used to provide a quick and concise visual overview of the status of a business enterprise through the elaboration of a more or less continuous stream of data from disparate in-house systems, interpreted as key business indicators. A dashboard can, for example, provide action information, alerts and warnings, next steps, and summaries of business conditions.
Drill Down: It is the functional ability in a dashboard system to present highly condensed data in more detail if necessary.
Widget: This term was coined by Apple Co. for a number of prefabricated tools that can be downloaded and used in the interface of a dashboard and other systems.
Key Processing Indicators or Key Performance Indicators (KPI): KPI is an undetermined variety of compressed data that are selected by the dashboard designers to represent the most relevant processes for the performance of a business unit or whole enterprise.
Visualization: Visualization is an important dimension in the human-machine interface of a dashboard system to show large amounts of complex data by a compact visual representation.