Should we build our business intelligence dashboards or buy our dashboards off the shelf? The Buy vs. Build decision has been a point of consideration for IT management since the dawn of MIS departments. Given the scarcity of off-the-shelf BI dashboard products “back-in-the-day”, we mostly built our own primitive (but functional) scorecards and dashboards. We developed a “build it ourselves” outlook that took many years for packaged software vendors to overcome. Things do change, however. With the advent and subsequent ubiquity of enterprise reporting packages came the preference of many for using installed solutions to knock out quick dashboards.
The explosion of Web 2.0 websites and technologies has created an environment that now merges the choices of “Buy” and “Build” into “Leverage freely available new technologies and approaches”. What do I mean? One cannot click more than a couple of times in today’s web without stumbling across technology that can be leveraged for our business intelligence dashboard projects. APIs are available that offer services that were unheard of (at any price, much less at no cost!) back a few years ago. I speak of web services from companies such as Google, Amazon, Ebay, etc that allow a “mash-up” of dashboard applications. See the post on a Mashup Dashboard on Dashboards by Example.
Getting to today’s Business Dashboard Example, let’s look at how someone is leveraging the iGoogle API to provide a dashboard geared towards Church management.
As you know, the Google Personalized Homepage has been around since 2005. There was a major change in April of 2007 with a rebranding as “iGoogle”. The service was expanded and the iGoogle API allowed anyone to create a module called a Google Gadget. Google also allows users to create gadgets online through a gadget interface.
Here is the dashboard screenshot:
Dashboard examples like this one and a thousand others can be found at Dashboards by Example, a Dashboard Spy project.