An inevitable transition is taking place on the enterprise software frontier. Businesses are wisely investing in technology that makes their information resources more accessible across an enterprise. Typically, the result is a structured collection of information viewable in a browser. Intended as a basis for timely, informed business decisions, these solutions have end users needlessly browsing multiple Web pages for relevant data. A new breed of dashboard technology is emerging that allows users to monitor business- critical information rather than search for it. Able to universally connect to any XML or HTML data source, robust dashboard products intelligently gather and display data, providing business intelligence without interrupting work flow.
Unlock the Power of Your Intranet
Back- end and middleware products (portals, Web integration tools, etc.) connect disparate systems and resources, and consolidate information in XML and/or HTML data sets. Using a browser front end to these resources causes users to start one or more applications, present login information, navigate Web pages and manually search for data. The user’s desktop is monopolized and productivity is lost, as intranet investments are at best underutilized and at worst ineffectual. A dashboard, on the other hand, resides as an unobtrusive toolbar on the user’s desktop, connects to the same back end and middleware XML/HTML data sets and proactively delivers information to users. With the ability to automatically log in to secure networks, gather and analyze data from multiple sources simultaneously, dynamically read-out critical data and issue alerts when data changes or falls outside of specifications, dashboards produce measurable ROI and fully utilize intranet and infrastructure investments.
A New Generation of Enterprise Software
Imagine an automobile without an instrument panel. Monitoring vehicle-operating conditions is possible, but impractical without the assistance of gauges and alert devices built into the car’s dashboard. Enterprise dashboard technology lends the same level of functionality to information resources. An enterprise dashboard is characterized by a collection of intelligent agents (or gauges), each performing frequent bidirectional communications with data sources. Like a virtual staff of 24x7 analysts, each agent in the dashboard intelligently gathers, processes and presents data, generating alerts and revising actions as conditions change.
Living up to their name, enterprise dashboards reside on users’ desktops, occupy very little screen real estate and provide a dynamic read-out of personalized, business-critical information. Robust Java- based dashboard platforms utilize intelligent agent technology to connect to most any IP-enabled data source (from corporate applications and databases to document repositories, intranets and portals) and displays information in a graphical, customizable dashboard interface. Full-featured dashboard products connect universally to multiple XML and HTML data sources simultaneously, continuously briefing decision-makers with up-to-the minute analysis and decision support.
Don’t Recreate the Wheel
Effective dashboard products have the flexibility to take the shortest path to a company’s enterprise data. In situations where back-end and middleware products perform data collection and integration, the dashboard product should not duplicate any of these tasks. Rather, the dashboard should draw its information from resulting data set, fully utilizing existing investments. In those cases where data mining and integration solutions are not in place, a dashboard platform should provide a means for connecting to disparate system and resources for its source data. In addition, a client-based dashboard product that utilizes the client’s network connection eliminates the need for additional server hardware and infrastructure, which makes deployment fast and simple.
The Bottom Line
The real value of dashboard products lies in their ability to replace hunt-and-peck data-gathering techniques with a tireless, adaptable, information-flow mechanism. Dashboards transform data repositories into consumable information. It’s no wonder businesses are realizing that the most effective way to manage and stay informed of key enterprise information is through the use of an unobtrusive dashboard that monitors multiple information sources simultaneously and provides a dynamic read-out of critical data. Flexible, intelligent, dashboard technology epitomizes the next generation of business intelligence tools and is a must-have to compete today’s information- based climate.
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