Do You Use a Business Dashboard?

Large corporations use business dashboards to track key indicators about the business. Business dashboards can give up-to-the-minute visibility into how the business is performing, with charts, tables and graphs.

Small businesses, however, usually cannot afford sophisticated business dashboards, except for the dashboard we have, say, in QuickBooks. There’s also the free MyBizHomepage that works together with your QuickBooks data to give you more intelligence. Those are great for what they do, which is manage key financial indicators.

But as someone who spends a lot of time online and who uses dozens of online applications (software-as-a-service, or SaaS) to manage certain functions and narrow slices of my business, I now have a growing need.

My need is to get access to lots of data and information and even charts contained in the Web applications I use.  Unfortunately, the information and charts are scattered all over the Web. It’s a nightmare just to keep track of all the different Web applications I use and the associated logins, let alone visiting the administration panels of those applications to check the data and charts in them. Some of the applications I review every few days, and some I review everyday or even several times a day.

In an article at the AppGap, I outline how I have cobbled together a rudimentary dashboard to run my business, using Netvibes. Here is an example of a page in Netvibes where I can manage intelligence culled from some of the many online applications I use (Statcounter and FeedBurner), via embedding widgets into a Netvibes page:

Netvibes business dashboard

You may also recall that recently I wrote about using Netvibes to manage social media accounts. Well, this is an extension of that same idea, but using Netvibes to also manage other business applications.

I think there’s a business opportunity for a company to come up with a simple dashboard app that serves as a gateway and access point to all these online software applications we increasingly are using — and the valuable data in them. And designed specifically for small businesses to use.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.