/ What are external BI dashboards and how are they used?
What are external BI dashboards and how are they used?
If you work in the business intelligence (BI) world, some of your projects might involve developing a dashboard for clients or users. Embedding a dashboard into an application is known as an external dashboard that can then be leveraged by clients, users, or others needing visual data for decision-making.
Most of this information is presented in a way that makes it incredibly easy to digest. This is because the people viewing the content tend to be from the general public and may not have the training or experience with data-driven insights. Even if they do, it may not be in the specific field or niche where your external dashboard is being embedded.
It is important to remember that this applies to practically all use cases. External dashboards made using BI tools are not restricted to the business world. Many universities, sporting organizations, financial entities, and governments rely on outward-facing data reporting to inform and empower their users.
Let’s review some of the key elements and use cases of an external dashboard and how it applies to user involvement.
What are external BI dashboards?
Imagine if you had a dashboard that showed all of your key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Wouldn’t it be nice to share this with clients, customers, or even partners? You could use it as a way to showcase what’s important in your business or organization.
But building an external dashboard for your BI application is more than just sharing the data. It’s about making information available on-demand and in context. That means you can give users the ability to view their dashboards when they need them most—whether they’re working remotely or attending meetings where decision-making takes place.
The same BI tools used to develop reports and analytical models from within an organization can also be leveraged to build external BI dashboards for clients. External dashboards are a great way to engage with clients and customers. They can be used to share information and data with clients as well as help them visualize the data in new ways.
External dashboards are designed to be viewed by users who aren’t directly involved in IT or analytics processes but need access to the same information as those inside the company. The goal of an external dashboard is to provide users with quick and easy access to essential business data without requiring them to create their own reports or manipulate complex data sets themselves. After all, it would be difficult for companies like banks and hospitals that employ thousands of employees across numerous locations worldwide to create numerous internal dashboards for each entity if every single one had different requirements.
What is data visualization?
Data visualization is the process of presenting data visually through the use of charts, graphs, and other visual elements. It is a way to communicate information to the audience in a more meaningful way. Data visualizations are also compelling in understanding complex and abstract data, which can be challenging for viewers to grasp.
What makes a good data visualization? Simplicity. The goal of good data visualization is not necessarily to make things look pretty or overly complex. It’s about communicating effectively by simplifying large datasets into something that everyone can easily understand.
Practical applications of external BI dashboards
Tracking public health concerns
Public health data is of critical importance to track and monitor. For example, being able to track a viral outbreak as it moves through a geographic location is vital to calming public worry.
An excellent example of this is the recent global pandemic. Organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) would post updates on current outbreak statistics that could be manipulated based on time or area of effect. This informed everyone, from local governments to schools to individuals, about how they should act around a population until things changed.
These dashboards would often link with other organizations and share data while still using simplified visualizations. This way, the federal CDC could integrate the World Health Organization’s (WHO) data points to further explain the situation.
Predicting weather patterns
Weather predictions and tracking are a massive part of our lives, so it’s no surprise that the application of big data to weather forecasting is one of the most popular uses for BI. The ability to predict weather patterns has a massive impact on businesses and individuals alike, from farmers who need to know whether they can plan on planting crops or not, to airlines that need accurate forecasts for their flight plans. The ability to quickly relate this information is critical to our society, economy, and public safety.
An external dashboard using weather data may have different filters so that users can make specifications about the weather data they want to see.
Outward facing company financials
What if you want to share your company’s general financial state with others outside your company? Or at least those who are relevant stakeholders? Well, in these situations, you can use an external dashboard.
As with internal dashboards, external dashboards can be used for a number of things: project management and sales analytics are two common examples. But they’re also useful for sharing information with partners or investors that need access to data on a regular basis.
There are many industries that require the disclosure of financial information, especially when that business is a publicly traded entity. In order to meet these regulations, companies must have outward-facing reporting on current operations, assets, cash flow, and more.
Many modern BI tools that are used for internal-facing operations related to financial information can be tweaked to output specific parameters that investors and interested public parties wish to see.
Natural disasters and public sector interest
External dashboards can also be used to track the progress of a natural disaster. For example, consider an external dashboard that monitors the number of people affected by the hurricane and tracks the storm’s epicenter on a map. This may help identify where there might be resource shortages or where relief efforts should focus first.
Another use case for external dashboards is tracking public sector projects. These can include infrastructure projects (such as building roads or bridges), environmental initiatives (such as cleaning up trash from oceans), or even public health initiatives (such as reducing childhood obesity). External dashboards enable interested parties to monitor a project’s progress over time.
Boosting services with embedded external dashboards
Embedded external dashboards are an effective way to boost services with BI. When clients use an embedded dashboard, it is essentially like having an interactive dashboard in a familiar environment on their one screen. They can then access particular data and compare it to other essential metrics from within their own applications.
That is why many BI tools include customizations and integrations where elements of some data visualization needs can be easily embedded in websites, online portals, and applications. Cryptocurrency is an excellent example of these innovations. Download practically any crypto marketplace-facing mobile app, and you are bound to receive some form of an external dashboard that can be edited to show your current asset value, digital wallet, NFT purchases, market rates, and more.
Including external dashboards in your services
Users appreciate services and products that expand the value proposition of a business. External dashboards are one of the many ways to improve customer engagement, communication of critical points, and ensure your users get more value for your services compared to the competition.
Luckily there are many modern tools available from BI vendors and software integrations that can be leveraged into your business operations with little interruption to your everyday processes. These are often solutions that work both internally and externally. This way, your company receives the benefits of data visualizations based on data you only wish to disclose to verified users compared to what you want to share with the general public.
Shop around and see what is available, and you will most likely find a cost-effective, external dashboard solution for your business sooner than you think.
Check out some related resources:
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