Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 1: Introducing Dashboards
Now this may all seem like semantics to you, but it’s helpful to clear the air a bit and understand the
core attributes of both dashboards and reports.
Defining reports
Reports are probably the most common way to communicate business intelligence. A report can be
described as a document that contains data used for viewing and analysis. It can be as simple as a
data table (or a database) or as complex as a subtotaled view with interactive drilling.
The key attribute of a report is that it doesn’t lead a reader to a predefined conclusion. Although a
report can include analysis, aggregations, calculations, and even charts, reports often require the
reader to apply his own judgment and analysis to the data.
To clarify this concept, Figure 1-1 shows an example of a report. This report shows National Park
visitor statistics by year. Although this data can be useful, this report doesn’t steer the reader to any
predefined conclusions or in any directions; it simply presents the aggregated data.
Figure 1-1: Reports present data for viewing but don’t lead readers to predefined conclusions.
Defining dashboards
A dashboard is a visual interface that provides at-a-glance views into key measures relevant to a
particular objective or business process. A dashboard consists of three key attributes.
➤ Displays data graphically (such as in charts). Provides visualizations that help focus attention
on key trends, comparisons, and exceptions.
➤ Displays only data that is relevant to the goal of the dashboard.
➤ Contains predefined conclusions relevant to the goal of the dashboard and relieves the
reader from having to perform her own analysis.
Figure 1-2 illustrates a dashboard that uses the same data shown in Figure 1-1. This dashboard
displays information about National Park attendance. As you can see, this presentation has all the key
attributes that define a dashboard. First, it’s a visual display that allows you to quickly recognize the
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