Business Intelligence Dashboard: Definition, Software, and More (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Dashboards provide business intelligence professionals with a snapshot of important metrics and analytics. Learn more about this important BI tool and how it informs strategic business decisions.

Business intelligence (BI) dashboards present data visualizations to users at a glance. Compiling and showcasing key metrics in an easy-to-understand way, dashboards empower business professionals to make the most strategic, data-driven decisions possible.

In this article, you’ll learn more about BI dashboards, including what they are, some of their most common features and benefits, and how they’re actually used in the real world.

Later, you’ll explore popular BI software with dashboard capabilities, tips for designing effective dashboards yourself, and cost-effective, flexible courses that can help you deepen your knowledge of BI tools and best practices.

What is a BI dashboard?

A business intelligence (BI) dashboard is a BI tool that displays data visualizations and data analytics on a single screen so they can be easily referenced for reporting and decision-making purposes. BI dashboards are flexible by design, so users can customize them to show key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics.

Typically, BI dashboards are connected to data sources, such as databases or data warehouses, that allow them to be updated with real-time information for business users. This raw data is transformed by the software powering the dashboard into easily understood data points and visualizations that equip decision-makers with actionable insights.

Read more: What Is a Dashboard?

BI dashboard features

BI dashboards equip business intelligence professionals and key stakeholders with critical insights and metrics at a glance. Connected to various types of data sources, BI software has the ability to quickly conduct data analysis and create visualizations like graphs and charts on dashboards that easily show up-to-date information for users.

To ensure that users have the insights they need, business intelligence dashboards often include the following features:

  • Customizable and interactive interfaces: Users can customize BI dashboards to view the precise data and graphics needed to make the best possible business decisions. Users can also interact with dashboards to dig deeper into data and toggle between different visualizations.

  • Generate visualizations: A key feature of business intelligence dashboards is their ability to automatically generate a wide range of different data visualizations. Some common visualizations include tables, bar columns, maps, KPIs, pie charts, and scatter plots.

  • Connected to various data sources: BI dashboards can connect to numerous different data sources, providing users with near real-time information about critical business metrics.

  • Automatic analytics: Many BI platforms also give users analytics tools that automatically provide them with relevant insights on their dashboards. Some even use artificial intelligence (AI) to help users find hidden trends and patterns in their data sets.

BI dashboard examples

There are many different ways that professionals across industries use BI dashboards every day. From dashboards created to track stock market fluctuations to those that illuminate department store sales nationwide and those that highlight the demographic makeup of a single hospital’s patients, there are seemingly endless ways that dashboards can be used.

Business leaders for a hotel chain, for example, might create dashboards that monitor seasonal occupancy, the regional performance of different locations, and their total revenue for the year. Equipped with these visualizations, decision-makers could potentially plan resource allocation throughout the rest of the year, paying particular attention to key periods of high and low occupancy from one location to another.

A sales manager for a digital health platform, meanwhile, might use a dashboard to track their quarterly objectives, total sales to date, and sales forecast for the rest of the year. These metrics could provide them with a clear understanding of their overall performance and enable them to adjust their strategy accordingly.

BI dashboard benefits

There are many benefits to using business intelligence dashboards. Some of the most common that businesses experience include:

  • Improved decision-making: BI dashboards provide decision-makers with actionable insights at a glance.

  • Freed resources: BI dashboards centralize important information for relevant stakeholders, ensuring they spend their time and resources taking action rather than searching for data.

  • Improved efficiency: The data-driven decision-making that BI dashboards enable helps businesses make more strategic investments and improve their overall efficiency.

  • Shareable and accessible output: BI dashboards can be shared across an organization, ensuring everyone can access critical information that helps them effectively do their jobs.

  • Up-to-date data: BI dashboards can be connected to external data sources, which allows them to be updated with near real-time data. This ensures that decision-makers have the freshest, most relevant data on hand.


There are many different BI solutions out there with dashboard functionality. The precise solution that works best for each organization will inevitably depend on their unique needs, resources, and use cases.

Some of the BI software with dashboard functionality that you might consider investigating include:

  • Microsoft Power BI

  • Tableau

  • Sisense

  • Google Looker

  • Domo

  • Qlik Sense Analytics

  • Zoho Analytics

  • IBM Cognos Analytics

Read more: 5 Business Intelligence Tools You Need to Know

Practice Power BI online

Ready to start visualizing data yourself?

Coursera’s Getting Started with Power BI Desktop guided project provides step-by-step instructions on core Power BI functionality. Learn how to import, transform, and visualize data on Power BI in as little as two hours.

Business Intelligence Dashboard: Definition, Software, and More (2)

Dashboard design best practices

Dashboards are simple but powerful tools that can help users make informed decisions and improve business performance. While many people may struggle to make heads-or-tales of raw data itself, visualizations laid out on a dashboard help them to quickly grasp what it's saying – and empowers them to act.

To ensure that your layouts and visuals are as impactful as possible, keep these design tips in mind when creating your BI dashboards:

  1. Keep your audience in mind: Different users have different needs, so make sure to consider the precise use case of your target audience. How will they use your dashboard? What data will they need to do their jobs best?

  2. Tell a good story: The visualizations you put on your dashboard should communicate something relevant to its users. What is your dashboard trying to tell others?

  3. Choose relevant visualizations for each data type: Different visualizations convey information in different ways. After all, while a pie chart and bar graph can technically convey the same data points, they do so in very different manners. When creating your dashboard, make sure to pick visualizations that effectively convey its data in the easiest-to-understand way for your users.

  4. Structure your dashboard for impact: Consider how people consume and read information. It’s wise to put the most important information at the top and to put contextualizing information further down. You’ll also want to think about the sequence in which you lay out your visuals. What sequence best tells the story you’re trying to convey with your data?

  5. Keep it simple: Too much data has the potential to overwhelm users and hide important information from them. When in doubt, then, it’s best to keep your dashboard to only a handful of impactful visualizations rather than loading it up with graphics.

Get started with Coursera

Business intelligence is all about using data to make better business decisions. Whether you’re hoping to start a career as a professional in the field or simply want to expand your decision-making abilities in the workplace, a BI professional certificate from Coursera can teach you what you need to know.

In Google’s Business Intelligence Professional Certificate, you’ll learn in-demand skills like data modeling, visualization, dashboarding, and reporting in less than two months. Design data visuals that answer business questions and then create dashboards that effectively communicate data insights to stakeholders from industry leaders at Google themselves.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

As an expert in business intelligence and data visualization, I've been actively involved in implementing BI solutions and designing dashboards for organizations across various industries. My hands-on experience in the field has allowed me to understand the intricacies of BI tools, their features, and their real-world applications.

The article you've provided offers a comprehensive overview of Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards, covering key concepts and providing insights into their significance in making data-driven decisions. Let's delve into the concepts used in the article:

Business Intelligence (BI) Dashboard:

Definition: A BI dashboard is a powerful tool designed to display data visualizations and analytics on a single screen, facilitating easy reference for reporting and decision-making. These dashboards are flexible, allowing users to customize them to showcase key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics.


  1. Customizable and Interactive Interfaces:

    • Users can tailor BI dashboards to view specific data and graphics, enabling optimal decision-making.
    • Interactivity allows users to delve deeper into data and toggle between different visualizations.
  2. Visualization Generation:

    • BI dashboards can automatically generate various data visualizations, including tables, bar columns, maps, KPIs, pie charts, and scatter plots.
  3. Data Source Connectivity:

    • BI dashboards are connected to diverse data sources, providing near real-time information on critical business metrics.
  4. Pre-created Templates:

    • Templates are available to assist users in quickly creating visually appealing layouts without extensive expertise.
  5. Automatic Analytics:

    • BI platforms often include analytics tools that automatically provide relevant insights, some leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to identify hidden trends.

BI Dashboard Examples:

The article provides examples of how professionals in different industries use BI dashboards, such as hotel chain leaders monitoring occupancy and sales managers tracking quarterly objectives in a digital health platform.

BI Dashboard Benefits:

The benefits of using BI dashboards include improved decision-making, resource optimization, enhanced efficiency, shareable and accessible output, and access to up-to-date data.

BI Software:

The article lists several BI solutions with dashboard functionality, such as Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Sisense, Google Looker, Domo, Qlik Sense Analytics, Zoho Analytics, and IBM Cognos Analytics.

Dashboard Design Best Practices:

The article emphasizes the importance of considering the audience, telling a coherent story through visualizations, choosing relevant visualizations for different data types, structuring the dashboard for impact, and keeping it simple to avoid overwhelming users.

Coursera Courses:

Coursera offers courses like "Getting Started with Power BI Desktop," providing step-by-step instructions on core Power BI functionality. The article also mentions Google’s Business Intelligence Professional Certificate, covering skills like data modeling, visualization, dashboarding, and reporting.

In conclusion, the article provides valuable insights into BI dashboards, from their definition and features to real-world examples, benefits, software options, and dashboard design best practices.

Business Intelligence Dashboard: Definition, Software, and More (2024)


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