Dashboards are the current leading Business Intelligence (BI) tool in the marketplace, according to a recent study by Software Advice, a comparison site for business intelligence tools. In 2013, Gartner’s study on Financial Executive International CFO Technology found that dashboards, scorecards, and performance management software is the top priority for executive teams these days. Today, managing a hotel or a restaurant is a more fast-paced task than ever, and dashboards provide business user friendly, powerful analytics. Moreover, dashboards are graphs, charts, and scorecards that demonstrate company trajectories, opportunities, and challenges using key performance indicators (KPIs), whether you’re analyzing the success of a project, a department, or the entire organization.
Similar to the dashboard you interact with regularly in a vehicle, executives and managers can make important decisions by visually evaluating transactional and operational data trends in a BI dashboard format. The primary difference between your car’s dashboard and a BI dashboard is that BI data visualizations are built for interaction, for more fine-tuned interpretation and adjustments. More specifically, BI dashboards offer drill-down and drill-to functionality, so you can craft data-driven decisions about the future of your hospitality company. Okay, you get it. Dashboard solutions are extremely important products in the business world. This article will explore data visualization for the hospitality sector, particular for hotel and restaurant management.
Let’s begin by discussing data sources. Today’s dashboards can pull company information from multiple sources. You can generate real-time analyses by integrating live from Point of Sale (POS) systems, bookkeeping databases, purchasing platforms, booking systems, and accounting systems or other data sources. Live analyses are beneficial for professionals who depend on up-to-the-minute data and smaller companies that only need simpler accounting system dashboards, without the personnel or funds to manage BI databases, like a data warehouse or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube. On the other hand, bigger companies might need the higher performance and stability of a BI data store for their analytics.
An integration from an OLAP cube or data warehouse allows larger corporations to build dashboards while avoiding a sluggish enterprise resource planning (ERP) system due to substantial and/or simultaneous data queries. You would have to invest in a BI data store and then, make sure to replicate your data to the warehouse or cube, but your data queries will not slow down your system servers. Even better news: some dashboard solutions give you the option of integrating live when you have more data analysis deadlines, with real-time information like inventory management, and pulling data from a BI data store for more routine dashboards like staffing and employment. This hybridity is extremely valuable – and doesn’t have to break the bank. And you have lots more to consider when shopping for the best solution for your team.
Next up: Excel, web, and/or proprietary interfaces. While Microsoft Excel has been a prominent tool for most finance and business professionals around the globe for decades, some independent software vendors (ISVs) have brought their own proprietary interfaced software to market, and additionally, the web as a technology platform has proven to be the definitive future. Additionally, more data sources are coming equipped with data visualization functionality, which are typically limited in their functionalities, simply due to taking a backburner to the software’s primary purpose. Today, the best dashboard solution for most organizations will be web-based, with web design and anywhere, anytime accessibility benefits, but powered with the familiarity of Excel formatting. Web-based software has become increasingly popular year over year for the BI marketplace.
Web-based software is more prominent than ever due to the accessible and collaborative nature of an internet interface for today’s business teams, hospitality or not, due to their innate flexibility. If your team works at multiple hotel or restaurant locations, includes road warrior(s), and/or with an executive team interested in a web platform, several ISVs are producing web-based data visualization solutions, hosted on-premises or in the Cloud, built with the same layout choices, drill-down capabilities, and KPIs. Mobile dashboard applications are an extension of this accessibility, meaning that you can analyze your data from wherever you can connect to the internet on a computer or a mobile device. Currently, mobile dashboard solutions are only able to zoom in on one KPI at a time, due to the size of the screen. However, there are solutions that offer the flexible access of Excel, web, and mobile dashboards.
Some software options provide you the flexibility of multiple access points for dashboards. Furthermore, there are dashboard solutions that are part of a complete BI suite, securely and fully integrated with financial reporting, budgeting, and/or a data warehouse, sometimes even discounted when bundled with other modules, all of which means just one team of consultant, reseller, and support for your BI tools. Dashboards can greatly impact the future of your hotel or restaurant, injecting the decision-making process with actual facts and figures, as well as data trends.
Hospitality data visualizations are just like usual executive dashboards, concentrating on the bigger picture and more summarized, combining POS figures with General Ledger (GL) data and sometimes with other information like staffing or payroll. Hospitality and restaurant dashboard software can aggregate multiple data sources for richer analytics, more accurate trends and metrics. Higher performance dashboards are updated often, typically relying on a BI data store, but there also some live integration options. Data visualizations are diverse in their focus, but some examples include inventory management, staffing and employment, front of house management, bar and cellar management, sales and marketing management, and finance and administration. Dashboards usually employ actuals that are tied to forecasting, which again supports the implementation of a BI suite.
If you are managing a hotel or restaurant in good health, dashboards are the tool to help you remain that way – providing professionals across department and at all levels accessible, quickly digestible analytics. You should assess your specific needs compared to current software options in order to make the best investment. The best solution will be easy to use, without IT involvement or management. Solver offers an Excel, web and/or mobile-based dashboards module stand-alone and as part of the comprehensive suite of BI modules and would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use data visualization solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for hotel and restaurant management.