Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Business Dashboard Design and Presentation with Microsoft Business Intelligence and Silverlight

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Often, most of the BI folks invest entire energy, focus and time on topics like architecture, performance and design and by no means I would try to negate this theory. By all means, it's very vital for any project. Still one thing that I personally feel lacks in the overall process is emphasis on presentation.

It has been my seen and heard experience that, even if the performance of a data warehouse is a bit on the lower end (for ex. 7% to 10% less than expected), a nice presentation of the dashboard can really take off all the pain that the users would feel due to such issues. I am not trying to making a point that how this can be used as an excuse for performance, but I am trying to emphasize the point that presentation is a very very vital part of the overall project delivery, which even applies to a data warehousing project where Dashboard is a part of the delivery.

To the best of my knowledge, with the kind of charts, bars and graphs available with Performancepoint Services now, it has evolved much better from what it was in the earlier version. But personally, I do not feel that it's to the best of my satisfaction or I can say that Silverlight based Dashboards has started overwhelming me. After Dundas Dashboards which I described in an earlier post few weeks back, there is another example of Silverlight based dashboard. And this one too definitely looks spectacular.

The example which I am going to describe uses something called "RadControls for Silverlight". These controls use Silverlight and the visualizations are quite impressive. These comes from a company called Telerik Corporation, which seems like a components and controls provider firm for DotNet based applications. The example which I am talking about is called Sales Dashboard Demo and a whitepaper is also available on the same.

Thou this controls are not designed to work directly with any data warehouse or technologies like a cube and KPIs, but it should be definitely possible to use these controls where a dashboard is created using SSRS. In my opinion, in the next release or service-pack, Microsoft should come up with some Silverlight based user-interface controls that can be used in the dashboarding side of Business Intelligence. Whether this happens or not, Silverlight is already getting popular as an interactive and intelligent user interface rendering mechanism.

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