Digital Dashboard Overview




A digital dashboard is a customized solution for knowledge workers that consolidates personal, team, corporate, and external information and provides single-click access to analytical and collaborative tools. It brings an integrated view of a company's diverse sources of knowledge to an individual's desktop, enabling better decision-making by providing immediate access to key business information.

Companies can quickly build and deploy their own customized digital dashboard solutions using the Digital Dashboard Resource Kit 2.0. The kit includes all the necessary tools and documentation, sample dashboards, and components ready to be used in a variety of digital dashboards. With the Digital Dashboard Resource Kit 2.0, companies can run digital dashboards not only in Microsoft Outlook 2000, but also in a Web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer.

A digital dashboard is made up of Web Parts: reusable components that can contain any kind of Web-based information. Web Parts are easy to build—even end users can create simple Web Parts in a dashboard. Developers can create more complex Web Parts using the Web Part Builder, a tool that enables the creation of sophisticated components that integrate a company’s existing systems with the analytical and collaborative tools in products such as Microsoft Office 2000, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft SQL Server.

Digital dashboard applications have an enhanced user interface that combines familiar Office features with easy-to-use Web browser-style controls. Users are one click away from simple tools that allow them to customize their digital dashboards, create new Web Parts, or import Web Parts from Web Part libraries on the Internet or on a local intranet.

Because digital dashboard applications incorporate so many familiar features, users do not need training to learn how to use them; for example, users can move Web Parts on a dashboard using a drag-and-drop operation.

The following illustration shows a digital dashboard for a fictional company called Adventure Works. This digital dashboard contains Web Parts that display the user’s Inbox, MSN Messenger Service, calendar, and critical information about the company.


Why a Digital Dashboard?

Until fairly recently, many workers had a difficult time finding crucial, up-to-date information about their industries, their companies, and even their workgroups. Today, that situation is changing in many organizations as employees gain unprecedented access to data from a range of sources: Web sites, intranets, news services, e-mail, documents of all types, and corporate databases.


In many cases, however, this access has added to the growing problem of information overload. Workers are now receiving more information than they can easily assimilate, and often that data is delivered in a form that isn't useful or prioritized by importance. The result can be lost information, mistaken priorities, trends that go unnoticed, and duplication of work.


A digital dashboard provides a consolidated view of information and combats the problem of information overload by:


·         Helping employees focus on business priorities. A digital dashboard application reduces information overload by delivering relevant and important information that workers can process quickly and analyze closely, promoting better informed business decisions.


·         Extending familiar productivity tools. A digital dashboard application is integrated with Office 2000, the leading desktop application suite for knowledge workers. Office 2000 integrates familiar productivity tools with the Web, connecting workers to information and to one another. Digital dashboards based on the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client and Office 2000 enable workers to take advantage of the analysis tools, collaboration capabilities, and Internet- and messaging-standards support built into Office 2000.


·         Delivering information, in the office or on the move. Knowledge workers can use a digital dashboard no matter where they are. Information from different sources, including favorite Web sites and shared public folders, can be synchronized for offline viewing and analysis.




Capabilities of the Digital Dashboard Resource Kit 2.0

Administrators can easily deploy a new dashboard, and populate it with Web Parts, either by creating new Web Parts or importing them from Web Part libraries on the Internet or a corporate intranet. The Digital Dashboard Resource Kit 2.0 also provides a rich library of pre-built Web Parts that companies can use in their own digital dashboard solutions. The resource kit includes sample digital dashboards based on SQL Server 7.0, and the Windows 2000 file system, so companies can choose the deployment option that best meets their needs.

These sample dashboards are completely customizable, making it easy for administrators to deploy digital dashboards that provide the following capabilities to help people work quickly and more efficiently by providing:


·         Access to multiple information sources. Digital dashboard solutions can be closely integrated with an organization's existing business systems, combining data from multiple sources in one easily accessible location. A digital dashboard can make information from virtually any source—legacy systems, Exchange Server, SQL Server, or Web servers—accessible for both online and offline use.


·         Integration of information. A digital dashboard can provide a unique view of  information from a variety of sources.  Because a digital dashboard can incorporate content from Office 2000 applications, workers can view personal information such as e-mail, calendars, tasks, and work or team files as well as team, corporate, and external information. Server-based intranet portals generally do not support this capability.


Digital dashboards also promote collaboration and an easier flow of information. Using the team-oriented capabilities of Outlook 2000 and Exchange 2000 Server, knowledge workers can easily create shared documents, discussions, project tasks, and other collaborative solutions. A digital dashboard can be set up to intelligently filter vital corporate information such as sales and customer data to alert knowledge workers of potential problems or opportunities. Knowledge workers can also view a wide range of work-related information located on the Web, such as research material, news and stock tickers, and targeted news feeds covering specific industries.


·         Interactivity with information. A digital dashboard provides interactive capabilities that enable individuals to quickly obtain specific, in-depth perspectives on business conditions. For example, knowledge workers can analyze high-level sales and competitive data in business reports or applications that use the Microsoft PivotTable® Web component or Microsoft Excel 2000 and SQL Server online analytical processing (OLAP) integration, enabling individuals to edit and update data directly.


A digital dashboard can also incorporate tools such as Microsoft NetMeeting® conferencing software, which allows people to share applications and collaborate face-to-face over an intranet or the Internet, and Microsoft Windows Media™ Player, which enables people to access dynamic streaming media content such as company communications, online training materials, and business broadcasts from the Internet or intranet.


A digital dashboard is a powerful tool that knowledge workers can use to view their daily activities, collaborate with coworkers, and gain insight into the performance of the company. It ensures that knowledge workers have the information they need to properly assess and act upon business opportunities.