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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Dashboards are not the future, but they are on the way there

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Some time ago I wrote a post with one of my favorite titles - If dashboards are the end game, kill me now. Last week, thanks to Tom Hudock, I saw an interesting article by Tom Gonzalez called The future of BI, Are dashboards pointing the way?

Personally I still don't think dashboards are the end game but I do take Tom's point - one of the first steps into the future one can take is to get out of a reporting mindset (last month's data, last week's) and into a more monitoring mindset. Thinking about a dashboard someone might find useful to make decisions is a good way to do this. But you must do more than just replace "report" with "dashboard". As my friends at Gartner said in a recent Strategic Planning Assumption "Business Intelligence and Decision Making" you must "evolve beyond just rendering measures to include managing the decision making process".

You must begin, then, with considering what decisions you need to improve. Make them explicit, identify who makes those decisions today and if this is what you want. Think about what it would take to make those decisions more effective and how you would measure that. Only then should you develop a dashboard. Furthermore, the dashboard should be for the person who "owns" the decision, not for the person who delivers it if these are different. The person who is delivering the decision needs to know what decision to deliver and that requires either automation (using decision management techniques) or really focused support using inline analytics and visualization - though this may be delivered using "dashboard" technology.

The future of BI is in decision management at every level from the strategic to the operational. Dashboards are a part of that, but only when done right.

1 Comment


I agree that dashboards are not the end-game. But as you mention, I see them as the most widely accepted BI tool that does help further us to the end-game of decision based information systems. The challenges with most dashboards today is that they are superficial window dressing used to sell solutions versus empower end-users. Very rarely do I see the level of critical thought necessary being used to implement both a "dashboard" solution, and/or the process by which these solutions must feedback against business conditions and out of date business assumptions.

- Tom

James Taylor blogs about decision-management technologies such as predictive analytics and business rules, discussing how they deliver agility, improve business processes and bring intelligent automation to SOA.

James Taylor

James Taylor blogs on decision management for ebizQ, and is an independent consultant on decision management, predictive analytics, business rules, and related topics.

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