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Connecticut Economic Dashboard

The idea of benchmarking the performance of a municipality or governed area such as a state is quite interesting. The Connecticut Economic Resource Center or CERC has been using business intelligence dashboards to provide perspectives on Connecticut’s competitive performance.

CT economic dashboard

Visit the dashboard here: CERC Dashboard

Take a look at the CERC dashboard and you’ll note that it’s basically an Economic Dashboard for the state of Connecticut. The dashboard is from idashboards.com and is interactive in nature. The graphics used in the dashboard represent both well-established metrics and newly developed measures to benchmark the state’s current conditions and potential for growth in areas such as:




Urban vitality



Business vitality

The designers wanted to give different perspectives on the economic metrics and thus incorporated the following techniques:

Often, a single webpage shows different data items that highlight interactions among the variables.

Graphics were chosen that quickly showed general trends as well as focus and highlight recent critical changes.

To further understanding of the issues, different presentations of the same data are often used.

Here is the link to the dashboard. Please check it out. Also, take a look at this page and note how promotion of the dashboard is important as well. Note at the bottom of the page the news releases about the dashboard called “Dash Flash”.

About the CERC Dashboard

Home Energy Dashboard

Dashboards in the home can lower energy consumption. The growing availability of “energy dashboards” for home owners to use for monitoring their energy consumption is helping to reduce electrical loads.

Here’s a look at one such unit:

Home Energy Dashboard

It’s from this post:

Musings of an Energy Nerd

Here’s an excerpt:

In recent years, the technology of our cars has advanced at a more rapid rate than the technology of our homes. A new car’s dashboard has gauges that display all kinds of information, including the amount of fuel in the car’s tank, the oil pressure, the electrical system voltage, and sometimes the tire pressure. Many new cars even have a real-time fuel-efficiency gauge that displays miles per gallon.

If you’re interested in comparable information about your home, you’ll probably have to go down to the basement and look at the float gauge on the top of your fuel oil tank. Then you can go outside and read the gauge at the top of your propane tank. Next, stick the prongs of a multimeter into an outlet to verify your electrical system voltage. And if you want electrical use data, you can wait until you get your utility bill at the end of the month.

It will probably be many decades before most homes have such car-like features as electrically operated windows or dashboards that indicate whether the doors are latched. But technology-savvy homeowners can already install a real-time whole-house electricity meter with a display for the kitchen or living room wall. Often referred to as “energy dashboards,” such monitors are available for less than $200.

You can even buy a more sophisticated dashboard that displays electricity, natural gas, and water use — although the cost of the required monitoring equipment rises steeply with these added features, into the thousands of dollars.

Documented energy savings

Studies have repeatedly shown that homeowners do a better job of conserving energy if they get real-time energy-use feedback. If you can see how many kilowatts your house is consuming, you’re more likely to check whether you accidently left the basement lights on.

In a March 2006 paper, “The Impact of Real-Time Feedback on Residential Electricity Consumption,” researcher Dean Mountain, a professor of economics at the McMaster Institute for Energy Studies in Hamilton, Ontario, reported data from an energy-dashboard study conducted by a Canadian utility, Hydro One. On average, the 400 Ontario households that received a PowerCost whole-house electricity monitor reduced their electricity usage by 6.5%. Mountain noted, “An important observation from the study is that the behavioral response remained persistent and did not decrease over time during the study period.”

In an April 2006 paper, “The Effectiveness of Feedback on Energy Consumption,” researcher Sarah Darby reviewed published studies of savings attributable to electricity and natural-gas dashboards. “The literature reviewed here mostly consists of primary sources, with a few review papers. The focus is on feedback on gas and electricity consumption,” she wrote. “The norm is for savings from direct feedback (immediate, from the meter or an associated display monitor) to range from 5%-15%.”

An article titled “Evaluating Energy Use Feedback Devices,” published in the July/August 2008 issue of Home Energy magazine, reports the results of a Florida study of electricity-use monitors. Three researchers from the Florida Solar Energy Center —Danny Parker, David Hoak, and Jamie Cummings — measured electricity savings in houses equipped with an electricity monitor called The Energy Detective.

After correcting the data for reductions in energy use that were weather-related, the researchers concluded that the homes with energy monitors had average electricity savings of 7.4%.

Using Executive Dashboards for Hospital Management

Those of us who have done dashboard projects in multiple industries know that the first step is to understand that vertical’s particular workflows, business rules and measures of performance. Finding out what KPIs to display on the enterprise dashboard for a particular type of business is no easy task unless you have first hand knowledge of that industry. Most consultants called in to implement a business dashboard don’t really know the industry first hand and must rely on the client’s subject matter experts. That is fine, but the dashboard vendor or consultant must do as much preparation in studying the client’s business as much as possible in advance. Yes, your particular expertise may be in dashboarding as a horizontal service, but as nice as your dashboard looks and works, it will not succeed if it doesn’t measure the right things.

For anyone involved in healthcare-related performance dashboards, here is a great primer on the workflows for a hospital. This is from a vendor named statcom and, while it is a sales and marketing tool, it does offer plenty of value-add and education for us dashboarders. It is offered as an interactive flash hospital workflow and patient flow simulator.  I’ve grabbed a couple of screenshots of the demo as well as the different executive dashboards involved:

Interactive hospital workflow demo 


What Drives Your Business Dashboard Initiatives?

When it comes down to the very essence of the “Why Dashboards?” question, the answer really comes down to speed. There is a measurable need for faster and more digestible, more accessible information. I believe that this “need for speed” in understanding business metrics and trends is what drives the adoption of business dashboards.

Take a look at this chart from the Aberdeen Group on the Top Pressures Driving Dashboard Initiatives:

dashboard initiative

Want to see the full report? Go here (this link is a direct link to a pdf):

Aberdeen’s Executive Dashboards: The Key to Unlocking Double Digit Profit Growth.

From the paper:

Aberdeen’s latest research on dashboard usage validates the business adage that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” From the executive management team down to the line-level business managers and “front-line” employees, the research shows that employees of all levels and functions are deriving value from the business visibility that dashboard tools provide. By leveraging a strong set of process, knowledge, organizational, and performance measurement capabilities, Best-in-Class companies are employing both strategic and tactical dashboard solutions in order to drive double digit improvements in profitability and have achieved substantial increases in customer service and sales performance. This benchmark report is based on feedback from 285 organizations globally.

Screenshots of a Brand Management Enterprise Dashboard

Executive Dashboard Topic: Measuring Brand Strength and Marketing Metrics with Dashboards

An executive dashboard can be a powerful force multiplier, especially when it comes to areas that, while traditionally reliant on trend analysis and data crunching, have not jumped on the idea of enterprise dashboards as quickly as other parts of the organization. Such is the case in the area of marketing, particularly brand management. (more…)

How Much Does a Business Dashboard Cost?

Dashboard Spy Topic: Costing Dashboards. There are many factors when it comes to determining the cost of a business dashboard project. Of course, one of the big determining factors is whether you build the dashboard yourself (a custom dashboard development project), integrate an off the shelf dashboard product from a dashboard software vendor, or some combination of the two (customizing an engine for example).

Take a look at the article titled “Cost of Dashboard Deployments“.

Here’s an excerpt:

Selecting a dashboard solution for your organization can be stressful or overwhelming. Many considerations have to be taken into account such as the purpose of the dashboard, how widely it will be deployed, what integration criteria is required, and important features and functionality. In addition to all of this, organizations compare these criteria based on pricing structures. Whether this means the initial cost of deployment, the implementation times associated with the solution, or what the solution will cost over time, identifying cost and how it affects the overall evaluation process cannot be overlooked.

This article looks at what cost considerations exist when looking at dashboard solutions and what realistic expectations are regarding dashboard solution costs. In addition, some dashboard vendors have provided averages of the cost of deployment for their products based on the number of users or various licensing fees/structures. These numbers (excluding names) will provide additional insight into what organizations should expect when implementing dashboard solutions.

tag: cost of dashboard deployment

Using Vision to Think

I had the opportunity to browse through the book Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think. I could not put it down. It’s a big book, hard to find and impossible to put down once you start looking at it. Use the link above to find a used copy. Take a look at this online version to see the kind of examples that enthralled me:

Online version (Google Books) of “Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think

information visualization using vision to think


Dashboard Recap – Recent Screenshots Sept 13 2007

It came to my attention that some Dashboard Spy readers forget that the dashboard screenshots appear under a different url: www.enterprise-dashboard.com, where I maintain Dashboard Examples Volume 1.  I apologize to the faithful reader who recently emailed me saying that while he enjoys the commentary and related materials that appear on this main site (dashboardspy.com), he wants to see more dashboard screens.

Well, in the spirit of helpful navigation, here is a recap of the recent dashboards that have been posted to Dashboard Examples Volume 1.

Hospital Bed Management Dashboard System with Excel Dashboard Download:

Excel Dashboard for Hospitals

In-flight Project Status Dashboard done in Xcelsius:

Xcelsius Project Dashboard

Security Operations Center Dashboard (a look at an upcoming product):

Security Dashboard

Marketing Campaign Dashboard in SharePoint

Sharepoint Marketing Dashboard

Business Objects Crystal Xcelsius Dashboard:

Xcelsius Dashboard

So go on over, bookmark the site, and you won’t miss anymore dashboards.

Netsuite Dashboard for Wholesale Distribution Operation

Dashboard Spy Topic: Distribution KPI Dashboard powered by Netsuite.

Financial KPIs and Sales Funnel Metrics lie at the heart of this wholesale/distribution dashboard example. This was featured on the JCurve Dashboards site.

netsuite dashboard

The yellow boxes with the red numbers lead to explanations when you click on them at the demo at JCurve Dashboards.

Here’s some info:

NetSuite’s AJAX-powered, patent-pending Dashboards are customisable for each employee in your company, allowing you to maximise productivity across your entire organization.

The Dashboard offers instant snapshots of your designated key performance indicators (KPIs), and provides real-time trend graphs and ad hoc reports appropriate for each role in your
business. With direct drill-down capability, you can move from a summary level directly to greater detail, and you can see real-time information to proactively manage for better results. Employees can select their content and simply drag and drop their choices for their own optimal layout. With all the information to do their job at their fingertips, you’ll quickly realise increased productivity and greater employee satisfaction.

Select a business type and role and see why executives and employees work better and smart with NetSuite Dashboards. Simply roll the cursor over the highlighted numbers on the screen to see descriptions of NetSuite’s Dashboard features.

Restaurant Performance Dashboard

Dashboard expert Robert Allison created this Restaurant Performance Dashboard using SAS GRAPH:
restaurant dashboards

As Robert explained:

This is a SAS/Graph imitation/enhancement of one of Charles Kyd’s Exceluser dashboards.

In the top section, the very dense yearly charts are created
using “proc gplot” with the ‘needle’ interpolation, and the
4-bar current-month charts are created using “proc gchart”.

All of the commentary text, and tables are created using annotated
text in a “proc gslide” – this is a bit cumbersome, but it gives
you total flexibility (and that’s pretty much the way you have to
do it, if you want to put multiple graphics on the same page with
“proc greplay”).

For this example, I hard-code most of the numeric values.
In a real-life version, you’d want to make those macro variables,
so that you can canculate the values on-the-fly (since I don’t have
the original data these values were calculated/derived from, I didn’t
think there was much point to setting them up as macro variables in
the proof-of-concept). I did set up all the numeric variables for
the “Sales and Expense Analysis” section as macro variables, just
to show how it could be done.

In the “STORES” section (2nd from bottom) the charts in the
original graph didn’t make much sense to me, so I replaced them
with something that (I think) makes more sense – a chart showing
the growth “Target -vs- Actual”. This is a bar chart with an
annotated target marker — if you meet the target, then the marker
is green (if you don’t meet the target, it’s red).

Also, I changed the order of the columns in several reports.
Since the graphs at the top of the page had the year on the left,
and the month (ie, most current values) on the right, I ordered
the columns in the table the same way.

In the bottom section, I changed it so that the % shows the difference
in ours and the competitor’s price, and if the competitor is cheaper
I make the price red.

And, the final improvement over the original – I added html charttips
and drilldown capability to the bar charts, and a few pieces of text
(such as “Mel’s Diner”). I don’t have any detailed data to actually
drill-down to, so I just have it drilldown to itself (but this gives
you a jump-start on adding drilldowns, since you have the code ready
to go).