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Independence Day
My Pick for Dashboard of the Year

by William Laurent, William Laurent, Inc.Wednesday, May 14, 2008

US Election Digital Dashboard Rendered Beautifully and Intuitively
Please click on dashboard for interactive version

In order to fulfill my patriotic duty as a citizen of the United States, I am going to cast my vote now for Best Dashboard Implementation of the Year. And the winner is… the “Yahoo Political Dashboard”. In my estimation, there are probably only a handful of politically savvy North American web users that have not visited this political dashboard at least once—the Flash interface is just so cool!

In fact, I would venture that Yahoo’s dashboard (http://news.yahoo.com/election/2008/dashboard) has done more to raise public awareness about the entire dashboard concept than all the BI companies put together this year—no small matter for Democrats, Republicans, or Independents alike. This thing is truly newsworthy!

All the cool BI dashboard bells and whistles are here, and they are rendered beautifully and intuitively. The design incorporates tabs, mouse-over pop-ups, and linking to external sites—for instance individual candidate homepages—where applicable. Although the ability to pivot and drill down is limited by the amount of information presented, it is still pretty cool, as the user can choose to explore the US political landscape starting with either a candidate or an individual state point-of-focus. Furthermore, despite a lack of dimensional-based data, this implementation is very special in that it gets the ordinary web user interacting with a glitzy dashboard that borders on addicting. We have a wonderful means to true data visualization with such classic mechanisms as historical lookups (for instance, we can see the result for the last four Presidential elections for every state) and various metrics. No, we can’t do true historical data mining, but we can click on a candidate’s picture to retrieve various important high-level informational metrics such as how much money they have raised or spent; similarly, we can click on each state and retrieve the racial demographics of its registered voters.

What impresses me most is that we are now seeing advanced BI-centered data visualization in the mainstream. And while most people do not realize it, the truth is that only a few years ago the business world was still dreaming about being able to see knowledge and information in the type of cohesive and customized format that we experience with the Yahoo Political Dashboard. BI dashboard concepts are finally seeping more and more into the mainstream— and just in time for July 4th. I think I will celebrate this newly found independence from boring data abstraction layers.

About the Author

William Laurent is one of the world's leading experts in information strategy and governance. For 20 years, he has advised numerous businesses and governments on technology strategy, performance management, and best practices—across all market sectors. William currently runs an independent consulting company that bears his name. In addition, he frequently teaches classes, publishes books and magazine articles, and lectures on various technology and business topics worldwide. As Senior Contributing Author for Dashboard Insight, he would enjoy your comments at wlaurent@williamlaurent.com

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