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A Deeper Look at Desktop Dashboards
An Interview with Allan Wille, President and CEO, Klipfolio

by Lyndsay Wise, President, WiseAnalyticsWednesday, January 21, 2009

With the plethora of dashboard solutions available, it is not always easy to evaluate the various existing solutions based on their key distinguishing factors. Easily identifying which deployment option or licensing structure most suits the needs of a company, or which features and functionality are essential to increasing performance management versus just nice-to-have features, often leaves organizations in a position where they are unable to select the appropriate dashboard for their business. With more information available about disparate solution offerings, corporations are in a position to make better decisions about what solutions to deploy.

The following interview with Allan Wille, Klipfolio’s President and CEO, looks at dashboards deployed on the desktop and delves into how Klipfolio's solutions differ from players in the same space.

LW: What are the main differences between Web-based and desktop dashboards?

AW: The main difference is that on the desktop customers get more of a persistent or real-time experience. A web-based dashboard offers you a lot of screen real estate, it offers deployment flexibility, and usually what happens is that web-based dashboards are rich as far as analytics are concerned. In addition, they're very capable of pulling different data sources. This means that most web-based applications become usable by using a lot of real estate, meaning that to see all the data, you have to have the entire window open. There's a tremendous amount of data available to people, which can be both a good and bad thing. We've actually heard from a number of customers that with web-based dashboards, not only do they have to have a browser window open to use them, but also there's potentially so much data that customers have to train their employees.

In contrast, with the desktop option, the difference is that if we can percolate up the most important data – the most important performance or operational day-to-day information – people will have this information in a dashboard on their desktop all day long. By constraining the size of the dashboard, users are not inundated with data irrelevant to their day-to-day jobs. However, with a simple click on the dashboard the user can return to the web-based dashboard. 

So the differences are not competitive differences; we're not replacing one with the other. What we're doing is designing a tool on the desktop that complements the information source. And 9 times out of 10, information is coming from some sort of web-based dashboard or network database. So the main difference is that you use the web-based dashboard for your end of month analytics, what-if scenarios, or a detailed look at historical or future trending, and you use the desktop, which is visible to employees throughout the day for your real-time operational awareness. And the desktop dashboard is applicable to a larger audience across the company because it requires little training, it's applicable on a daily basis, and you always have the ability to jump back into the data if you need to – i.e. on the web site.

LW: How would a corporation benefit from using a desktop dashboard instead of a web-based counterpart?

AW: The top reasons why our customers are choosing a desktop dashboard to use alongside their web-based or network database is to 1) improve data visibility; 2) for real-time communication; 3) application adoption and 4) consolidating metrics. A common problem often brought to our attention by companies is that even though they have data that has been collected and stored available to them, managers and executives do not have appropriate visibility into that data. 

Data visibility really boils down to increased performance and making the right decisions and is by far, the most cited reason why people choose a desktop dashboard to use alongside a web-based application. 

Real-time notification as mentioned earlier, is another reason why customers opt for a desktop dashboard and this is usually applicable to departments where there is frequently changing, critical information such as a sales department or helpdesk - where information changes on an hourly basis, hence the need to increase real-time notification.

The complaint from our customers is that they didn’t have an appropriate way to ensure real-time notification. Some have been using a big board placed in front of all of their call centre representatives that indicate the wait time or the escalation status. But this information is not applicable to each individual rep; it’s a “one solution fits all” approach. We’ve heard from others that they actually email out status reports on an hourly basis, and you can see that getting email updates every hour is not an effective way to track performance, especially if inboxes are being ignored or messages are deleted or not checked each hour. By putting a desktop dashboard on each individual’s desktop, we are increasing the real-time awareness of information required for his or her job.

Application adoption is another reason why people are adopting desktop dashboards. There is a fairly common problem among most web-based dashboards or web-based CRM tools where IT spends a considerable amount of effort customizing it, getting it ready, integrating it into their system, and then rolling it out to the organization. The desktop dashboard can complement that CRM, making it easier for the data to be displayed so people don’t have to log in or go to various tabs or different web pages to see the data. Everything is in front of them without them having to do anything extra. 

Furthermore, we can then simplify the interaction between the dashboard and the web-based system. So for example, they can initiate a lead right from the desktop or they can change the status on a certain opportunity without having to log in. So once again, I think that because the desktop is always there it encourages the reps or users of the Web based tool to keep the data front and center. And it only takes a click to get into a certain record.

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