How does displaying information in a dashboard work?

You’ve figured it out. You need a dashboard. The lack of overview makes you restless, but you do not have the time to prepare an up-to-date report. As a result, you are often looking at an older status, which is probably correct. To make more data-driven decisions, you decide to have a dashboard created. But how does a dashboard work?

Which data sources can I link to a dashboard?

In principle, every source can be linked to a dashboard. A data source could be compared to a house. Once the address is known, it is easy to send a letter there with the request to return a completed form. This letter would be called a query in the data world.

Data sources can be accessed in two ways: locally or in the cloud. When a data source is local, this means that there is no direct connection to the outside world (i.e. the internet). The data can only be shared if the resident of the house actually sends this data to the outside world and the postman comes to collect it. When a data source is in the cloud, it can be compared to email. An information request can be made at any time of the day, which will be answered depending on the speed of the server (comparable to the resident of the house).

For a dashboard it is important to show the current status. So an information request (query) will be made to the data source once every hour. An online dashboard is therefore preferably linked to a data source in the cloud. This can be a database or application, but also an Excel file that is in the cloud via OneDrive or Sharepoint.

How are data sources linked to a dashboard?

A dashboard is developed using business intelligence software, such as Power BI. In this story, Power BI can be seen as the postman/mail programĀ A list of addresses (the group of information sources) is collected, after which information must be retrieved from here. Every hour, Power BI Service visits the information source to retrieve the latest status. When it has visited all sources with the information request, it collects this current data and shows it in the dashboard.

The connection between Power BI and the data source is made using a Power BI connector. Microsoft has developed many different connectors so that Power BI can be connected to almost any system for free. Some applications do not have a free connector. However, there are various parties that have developed a connector that can usually be used for a reasonable monthly fee.

The connectors that can be used for free are:

Curious about what information in your organization can be displayed in a dashboard?