What are Interactive Dashboards?
Interactive dashboards are simply collections of charts and reports, delivered through a business intelligence platform for the purpose of providing business users with intuitive means of working with corporate data. The concept of a dashboard is not new and has been adopted with quite a wide rate of success across corporate environments. The interactive dashboard, however, is a relatively new concept and aims to bring a new level of personal usage to dashboards for business users. Interactive dashboards have become quite popular, especially over the past few years.
Features of Interactive Dashboards
Interactive dashboards differ in features and capabilities depending on the business intelligence platform used to deliver them. At all levels, however, interactive dashboards should provide some level of interaction and animation to help users visualize data and get better results. The types of features often found in interactive dashboards include drill-down capabilities, the ability to get more detailed data from a chart or report by clicking on an individual element. A related visualization, the drill-through chart, is part of interactive dashboards where clicking on a chart element passes those variables to a secondary charts for further analysis. Other types of interactive dashboards controls include time-line sliders that help users narrow the amount of data shown to a specific time line with just a few clicks.
Flash based Interactive Dashboards
Deploying interactive dashboards can be accomplished with a number of technologies. Using flash based interactive dashboards has been proposed by a number of recent entries into the field of interactive dashboards. The benefit of flash based interactive dashboards is that the flash engine lends itself quite naturally to animations and interactivity. The biggest drawback, however, to flash-based interactive dashboards is that the flash plug-in forces platform and browser dependencies and also comes with performance overheads that are often visible in slower browser performance.
Locally Deployed Interactive Dashboards
Locally deployed interactive dashboards on the other hand rely on a more traditional "client-server" architecture where a locally deployed application is responsible for rendering the dashboard and providing interactivity. These interactive dashboards can in fact provide a great deal more sophistication since they are created using tools like C++, but they do so at a heavy price. The biggest challenges with locally deployed interactive dashboards revolve around platform dependence and the required maintenance overhead that comes with locally deployed software.
AJAX and HTML Interactive Dashboards
A relatively new entrant in the interactive dashboards field are interactive dashboards based on HTML and AJAX technology. The HTML interactive dashboards provide interactivity and fast performance (due to their very low overhead) while also maximizing the number of browsers they can work with. Interactive dashboards created with HTML and AJAX are becoming increasingly popular as a delivery method since they make life easier not only for the user but also for the administrator.