Operational, Strategic or Analytical Dashboard: Which Type Is Best for BI?

Operational, Strategic or Analytical Dashboard: Which Type Is Best for BI?

In this modern era of digital transformation and big data, business intelligence (BI) dashboards have grown increasingly important in the improvement of business performance and growth of organizations. Dashboards enable you to easily identify and analyze key insights at a glance, and more accurately make important decisions.

There are different types of dashboards to fit particular use cases and audiences, including the operational dashboard, strategic dashboard, and analytical dashboard. But which type of dashboard is the best for BI? In this post, you will find all the answers.


How many types of business intelligence dashboards are there?

Usually, there are three different types of business intelligence dashboards. They are:

1.      Operational dashboard

2.      Strategic dashboard

3.      Analytical dashboard

In addition, certain embedded analytics solutions offer a fourth type of dashboard that deeply integrates action, context and automation into the regular dashboard workflow. At Yellowfin, we call it:

4.    Contextual dashboard


1. What is an operational dashboard?

An operational dashboard is a common type of BI dashboard. Companies use it for monitoring performance and tracking short-term operations. It enables you to understand whether your operations are running on target or not, as well as keep an eye on emerging changes or trends.

The operational dashboards display a range of key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow you to quickly view your company’s past and present performance. As a result, you can better predict the future performance of your business, remove inefficiency and act upon potential problems faster than without.


operational dashboard - business intelligence dashboard


The operational dashboard allows you to control operational activity. It helps you to ensure that core processes stay within the prescribed limits of quality and efficiency. It provides you with real-time performance reports. The operational dashboard graphically presents all the data. Therefore, you can easily view and digest critical information. It allows you to proactively analyze operational performance. As a result, you can improvise process control and efficiency. It enables you to avert problems and exploit opportunities.

A great operational dashboard example is included in Yellowfin's Interactive Dashboard Gallery, which allows you to interact directly with our sample data. The Ward Benchmarks Dashboard shows off statistics comparing crime rates by ward against the prior year.


Is it the right type of dashboard for me?

If you are a manager or a standard business owner, you should definitely go for operational dashboards. They will enable you to effortlessly track KPIs. As a result, you can efficiently achieve your business goals.

Related: Dashboard vs Report: Which is better for BI?


2. What is a strategic dashboard?

A strategic dashboard is a reporting tool for monitoring long-term company strategy. It helps you to identify trends and make effective business decisions.

Strategic dashboards provide enterprise-wide insight into a business, and that’s why they are a little more complex than other types of dashboards. Their intent is to track performance metrics against enterprise-wide strategic goals. They do this by providing a summary of company performance over a set period of time, like the past month, quarter, or year. Hence, they help you to stay right on track and efficiently achieve business goals as per schedule.

The strategic dashboard provides comprehensive reports by analyzing large datasets. You can use it to quickly identify strategic concerns, and take the necessary steps to solve the issues faster. It can significantly lower operational costs when used correctly, though it takes some setup and careful following of dashboard design best practices to ensure your audience will be able to understand the organization-wide data on display.

Overall, strategic dashboard are is the best type of dashboard for monitoring company strategy, in terms of efficiency and budget.


Is it the right type of dashboard for me?

The strategic dashboard is suitable for senior management professionals in enterprise organizations, such as business owners, CEOs, and vice presidents, and it best used for tracking performance metrics against enterprise-wide strategic goals.


3. What is an analytical dashboard?

An analytical dashboard is a tool that provides a comprehensive overview of data. It enables you to efficiently handle and visualize complex information. As a result, you can easily perform analysis and uncover key business insights.

Unlike operational dashboards, analytical dashboards utilize historical data to identify trends. They compare the information with several variables to create predictions. As a result, you can make data-driven business decisions. One example everyone would be familiar with is the Google Analytics dashboard: It helps you to identify trends and patterns in how visitors engage with your website over a set period of time, with multiple filters and drill downs available to delve further into each traffic source, region, time period and so on.



The goal of analytical dashboards is to support senior managers in analyzing the data. They enable you to identify trends, create comparisons, and make predictions. However, analytical dashboards typically contain large data sets. Due to the vast amount of information, they are more complex than the other types of dashboards. In this case, visuals play a big role. They efficiently represent large data sets to help you perform analysis and uncover key insights. As a result, you can query, combine and explore the data in greater depth.

A great analytical dashboard example is included in Yellowfin's Interactive Dashboard Gallery, which allows you to interact directly with our sample data. The Liquorio Sales Dashboard provides performance analysis for sales across distributors, product ranges and specific categories to support the sales team in finding changes and outliers in an otherwise large dataset.


analytical dashboard - business intelligence dashboard


Is it the right type of dashboard for me?

Analytical dashboards requires the creator to know about data science, statistics, and analytics to ensure they can convey historical data in a way that is understandable for their intended audience. Analytical dashboards are most useful for categorizing large and broad information, and if you need to visualize complex data, it can be incredibly useful. However, the analytical dashboard is not suitable for people with inadequate analytical and statistical knowledge. 


4. What is a contextual dashboard?

Contextual dashboards are a unique form of the analytical dashboard that is derived from contextual analytics. It combines actions with the data on display to trigger workflows and transactions. This type of dashboard enables the dashboard consumer to act upon the data displayed directly in the same interface, rather than having to switch into another application to source data when you need more context or insights for decision-making.

In a contextual analytics dashboard, you can use filters or drill interactions to focus on the area of your interest. It also offers dynamic alerts, prompts and filters based on your actions to guide you toward more relevant data. As a result, you don’t have to switch apps to derive insights, or seek guidance from IT. You get everything in a single place.


Contextual Analytics - Your next product innovation


How does a contextual dashboard work?

Contextual dashboards have 3 core criteria:

·        Dashboards are embedded within a software application’s pages

·        They are synchronized with the core application

·        In combination, they support transactional workflows

For example, you are viewing an individual customer record within a CRM application. You can see a series of charts that highlight the purchase history. In a predefined path, every customer record will have its own set of visualizations. The data visualizations will be the same. However, the dashboard will uniquely filter data for each end-user.

Related: What is Contextual Analytics?


Does Yellowfin support contextual dashboards?

Yellowfin supports contextual analytics, which brings dashboards, automated analysis, and analytics directly into your application’s core workflows. It delivers data directly within the user interface and the transaction flow; you don’t have to switch to another app for more context. You get instant access to related information in the same user interface.

Yellowfin’s contextual dashboard features powerful analytical capabilities. For example, the Assisted Insights feature proactively explains the meaning of data in your dashboard, Stories brings narrative to add human context to the data set, while Signals notifies you about what changes have occurred in the data as you use it.

Overall, Yellowfin’s contextual dashboard is the best analytical dashboard in terms of flexibility, user-friendliness, and experience.

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