Are business software dashboards invisible?

Mark Canes

Business Intelligence. Corporate Performance Management. Dashboards. You'll virtually never see a demo of any company's business and accounting software these days, without being impressed by their dashboards. They almost all have them - either built-in, or 3rd party - the must-have business intelligence tool. As a business owner / manager, you get to see the dashboard when you log on each day, highlighting key logistical / financial business data in (usually) a graphical format, making it easy to pick out important trends and exceptions. And for the first few weeks after implementation, most people spend at least a few seconds each day looking at the dashboard, and drilling down into more data when necessary.

However, like most things in life, after a while the novelty wears off. And while detail-oriented people will diligently use the dashboard on a daily basis, it seems (to me) that many executives and business owners do not. After a few weeks, they tend to briefly glance at the dashboard an on infrequent basis, and unless something really jumps out at them when they're not thinking of something else, not much gets noticed.

I have no statistically sound survey to back this up, just my own observations (about myself as well as others). I've arrived at the conclusion that dashboards are not ideal tools for entrepreneurs and many executives - which ironically is the exact audience they target. Perhaps those who report to them will alert them to any specifics they need to know or act upon.

It says here that having bare-bones information and exception reports pushed via email is more effective. I know that approach works well for me (as long as the emails are not predictably repetitive).

Have your dashboards become invisible to you? Or do you actually use them on a daily basis?