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4 Types of Dashboards in Business Intelligence: Your Guide to Finding the Right One for Your Business

Written by

James Watney

Last updated on

November 30, 2022

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Once you’ve recognised the value of business intelligence, it’s impossible to ignore the importance of choosing the right BI dashboard.

Even with the most comprehensive data analytics fully integrated into your business operations, if you don’t have the right solution in place, your teams won’t be able to make proper use of the data.

And without the ability to access or visualise the metrics, KPIs, and data trends that are most relevant to their tasks, your teams will struggle to meet their targets or make the right decisions.

However, with a strong understanding of the four types of dashboards in business intelligence, who they’re catered for, and why, your teams can use BI to develop key insights and make data the backbone of all their decision-making.

Table of Contents

Why BI dashboards are important to businesses

Data aggregation and visualisation technology have advanced hugely affecting all kinds of industries wherever there is data collection. As a result, BI dashboards are now a necessity for many businesses who wish to remain competitive within their market.

By providing dynamic data monitoring within an interactive interface, dashboards offer powerful business insights across hugely diverse areas, such as customer demographics, sales KPIs, inventory management, fluctuations in financial markets, or performance forecasting.

This means that businesses can build beautiful dashboards to present key data analytics to all their teams, from marketing to product design to the senior leadership team, empowering better decision-making and therefore better business performance.

Top benefits of using a BI dashboard 

As we’ve just discussed, cloud and on-premise dashboard software facilitate data-informed decision-making and can play a key role in business competitiveness, but there are many other benefits to BI analytics – here are some of them:

  • Make data-informed decision-making part of your business culture
    By using BI dashboards throughout your processes and workflows, you can change how all your team members go about their decision-making. With data playing a larger role in how your teams create and deliver on targets, you can improve performance drastically.
  • Be more efficient
    With a go-to source of data analytics, teams are better at reaching a consensus on tactical and strategic planning.
  • Align teams and goals
    With cross-departmental projects, teams work better together when they have a clearly defined way to measure and visualise KPIs. 
  • Data democratisation
    Data analysts can still play a crucial role when BI dashboards are used across your business, but with cleverly visualised data in a dashboard, all your non-technical team members can also access and utilise your data resources.

How BI dashboards solve different business needs

Before you can choose the right BI dashboard for your business, you need to understand the problems you’re solving. Who will use the dashboard? Will it be your sales team, HR, or senior management?

Do you have the resources to conduct in-depth data analysis or do you need a dashboard that’s catered for non-tech team members?

Why do you need an overview of data analytics? Is it to understand your sales and inventory? Will you use it to make day-to-day choices about marketing campaigns or product development? Or will you use it to make long-term decisions about the direction of your business?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution in cloud or on-premise business intelligencedashboards are designed or customised to perform specific tasks and solve particular problems. 

Some of these problems could relate to strategic executive team decision-making, while others could relate to boosting sales at a particular time of the day. Some businesses need a combination of dashboards, while others need a simpler solution.

As you’ll see in the following section, we can group together types of BI dashboard depending on how broad or detailed the data is, how interactive they are, who uses them, and why.

The 4 types of Business Intelligence dashboard 

There are four main types of BI dashboard:

  1. Strategic BI dashboards visualize high-level metrics for long-term planning and are mainly used by senior management.
  2. Operational BI dashboards are focused on real-time data metrics and KPIs, and can be used for day-to-day decision-making.
  3. Analytical BI dashboards collate large amounts of data for specialists to study to identify underlying trends. 
  4. Tactical BI dashboards are mostly used by mid-management to track a blend of operational and strategic metrics.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of BI dashboard in detail and discuss how they compare with each other, who uses them, and how. 

And if you’d like a quick overview of how different BI dashboards compare, you can jump ahead to see our BI dashboard table summary.

Strategic BI dashboards 

A strategic dashboard is normally used by senior management and the executive team to give a high-level overview of business performance. The data is used for long-term planning and incorporates aggregated data from across the entire business, so they’re necessarily complex.

However, because they’re used to look at a broader picture, strategic dashboards update less frequently than, say, operational dashboards, often giving KPIs and other performance updates across quarterly (or even larger) periods.

As a result, strategic BI dashboards are not normally suitable for day-to-day decision-making. For example, they won’t give you real-time updates on the latest sales figures, they won’t tell you this morning’s incoming customer calls figures, and they won’t give you up-to-the-minute customer acquisition data.

But strategic dashboards could give you a month-on-month or year-on-year data overview on revenue, new and returning customer figures, or the cost per lead and cost per customer, which you can compare directly with your set business goals.

This bird’s-eye view of key business metrics on performance versus goals could be used to gain crucial insights on ROI, help you understand seasonal fluctuations in business performance, or compare metrics before and after a particular event, such as a Google update, product release, or marketing campaign.

With the long-view data reporting that strategic BI dashboards provide, you can make better <strong>strategic choices about how to direct the focus of your business, plan for seasonal shifts in performance, and anticipate opportunities</strong> for your products and services.

Operational BI dashboards 

Where strategic dashboards give you a big-picture overview of business metrics, operational dashboards get you down in the weeds of performance, transactions, and operations, giving your teams the latest updates across very specific business areas.

And where other dashboards may require some careful analysis, it’s often essential for operational dashboards to give you at-a-glance insight into what’s going on in a particular department or team.

For example, an operational dashboard that you’ve customised for a website marketing team might tell you the number of landing page visits, the number of visitors to those landing pages that have converted, and the proportion of those conversions that came from a specific ads campaign.

A junior-level marketing manager could then make a choice about how to use the ads campaign budget based on those up-to-the-minute conversion rates – without an operation BI dashboard to provide that insight, they’d simply have to take a guess on which campaigns were performing best that day.

Of course, you can utilise operational dashboards for any number of business areas, such as logistics, sales, human resources, or manufacturing.

Another example could be a customer service operational dashboard, which you could customise to give minute-by-minute metrics on incoming calls, average response time, and resolved cases. These KPIs could give performance across a department – or by individual customer service operators.

With these data analytics to hand, a team leader could better plan lunch breaks or training. The insight provided by <strong>this operational dashboard could as a result be crucial to improving the customer experience, which could, in turn, lead to reduced customer churn.</strong>

Analytical BI dashboards 

While other BI dashboards will normally be designed or customised to visualize data as efficiently as possible, analytics dashboards go into much more depth, requiring a specialist data analyst to retrieve meaningful insights.

Since these dashboards cover business performance so comprehensively, they’re highly interactive and used by analysts for data drill down to obtain a granular view of a particular data set.

Most commonly, analysts then use their findings to build reports which can then be used by senior management for strategic purposes.

So, like strategic dashboards, analytical dashboards can cover any business area, but unlike strategic dashboards, they can give both long and short-term views on performance, and enable far deeper analysis.&nbsp;

Also, analytical dashboards are more complex than strategic dashboards – which is why they’re used by specialist analysts – and also why they can be so valuable to strategic decision-making, as they can be used to zoom in on trends that would otherwise be impossible to identify.

For example, a healthcare analytical dashboard could monitor patient waiting times for consultations, treatments, or beds. Also, it might provide analytics data on customer satisfaction and doctor workloads. It could also compare all these metrics across different areas of healthcare service, such as cardiology, neurology, and surgery.

An analyst could then dive into these data sets to see what relationships there are – if any – between waiting times, doctor workloads, and customer satisfaction. Maybe they could uncover a correlation between some of these metrics within some service areas but not others.

This information could then be reported to the executive team to make strategic choices on how to best improve customer satisfaction without adding to doctor workloads.

Tactical BI dashboards 

Like analytical dashboards, tactical dashboards are interactive, offering filters and segmentation to analyse business performance and drill down into the available data.

Where they differ, though, is in the level of detail – analytical dashboards are highly comprehensive, whereas tactical dashboards monitor metrics that relate to business or departmental goals and defined targets.

For example, a tactical dashboard for a SaaS product team could be customised to monitor marketing and engineering budgets over set timelines to align with project deadlines. It might also provide customer acquisition metrics specific to a website resource.

A product manager could then use these dashboards to oversee project performance versus targets and milestones, delving into user data, such as demographics, region, and campaign source.

This would give the product manager insight into how different teams were meeting their deadlines, while also being able to weigh that up alongside product performance and user response.&nbsp;

They could then use these insights to make decisions on which marketing campaigns are most effective, and how to manage the product backlog.

Getting the most out of your business intelligence solution depends on choosing the right BI dashboard for your business needs.&nbsp;

So, as well as considering cost and ease of deployment, BI capability, data visualization, and on-premise BI vs cloud BI, you must take into account what type of BI dashboard will work best for your teams.

By doing so, you can get the most out of all the data your business generates on a daily basis, empowering your teams to make informed decisions, establish ambitious goals, and find better ways to hit their targets.

For a comprehensive BI solution that’s fast to deploy, accessible for non-technical users, and fully customisable for your business, look at what Trevor can do for you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Types of Business Intelligence Dashboards

What is a business intelligence dashboard?

A BI dashboard is a tool used to convert business intelligence analytics into accessible data by tracking, reporting, and visualising key business metrics.

What kind of dashboards are there?

There are four main types of BI dashboard: strategic dashboards, operational dashboards, analytical dashboards, and tactical dashboards.

What are the types of business intelligence?

There are many types of business intelligence that relate to how data is retrieved, presented, and visualised. The four main types of BI dashboard distinguish between how business data is used and who by. They are: strategic dashboards, operational dashboards, analytical dashboards, and tactical dashboards.

What are some examples of data dashboards?

There are many types of data dashboards, including management KPI dashboards, customer service dashboards, financial service dashboards, health service dashboards, and manufacturing KPI dashboards.