Sunday, June 03, 2007

Data Visualization Is Just One Part of a Dashboard System

Following Friday’s post on dashboard software, I want to emphasize that data visualization techniques are really just one element of those systems, and not necessarily the most important. Dashboard systems must gather data from source systems; transform and consolidate it; place it in structures suited for high-speed display and analysis; identify patterns, correlations and exceptions; and make it accessible to different users within the constraints of user interests, skills and authorizations. Although I haven’t researched the dashboard products in depth, even a cursory glance at their Web sites suggests they vary widely in these areas.

As with any kind of analytical system, most of the work and most of the value in dashboards will be in the data gathering. Poor visualization of good data can be overcome; good visualization of poor data is basically useless. So users should focus their attention on the underlying capabilities and not be distracted by display alone.

1 comment:

James Taylor said...

Of course the OTHER thing you need to have is a way to turn what the dashboard tells you into action, otherwise it's just a pretty picture.