Overview of Dashboard Solutions for Data Integration

The tools surveyed here offer an integration of data into a single platform, but do so only in one direction. By this, I mean that these solutions don’t offer the possibility of sending updates back to the applications from which the data originally came from. One such tool is Sumall, which offers a marketing-focused set of metrics based on third party data, consumed via APIs. A competitor in the same vector is Geckoboard, offering an API itself for end users to add their own services on top of those provided out of the box.

A slightly more configurable tool is a Chartio, which connects with what are mostly DBaaS providers, to allow one to create his own customizable business dashboards. Chartio’s platform allows non-technical end users to author their own graphs by dragging and dropping fields from the third party data sources they’re connected with. Combined with that, is a rules engine, based on a set of dropdown menus, for setting up the logic behind the presented graphs. A more technical option is that presented by Dashku, offering a platform on top of which frontend developers can build widgets that connect with third party data, and that combined, are gathered into a fully self-authored dashboard.

Every BI software provider offers some level of dashboard building capabilities. Notwithstanding, these solutions are usually out of reach for small businesses. Jaspersoft, for instance, offers a community edition of its solution as an open source project. However, that open source version lacks the dashboard capabilities that paying users are offered.

A subset of dashboard providers is that of analytics solutions. These are less likely to integrate data from different sources and are therefore of relatively minor significance for this overview. In spite of that, some tools are still worth noting. The first of which is Chartbeat, which gathers data from the users’ websites, but integrates with social media data as well, to generate a more insightful perspective, all without requiring the end users themselves to do the heavy lifting data work. Another tool takes that approach slightly further - ThinkUp pulls together data from users’ social networks, but doesn’t offer graphs and dashboards at all. Instead of pouring immense amounts of data onto the screen, ThinkUp presents a feed, much like that of most social networks, that highlights actionable insights based on the sum of the data that was gathered.

*This article is part of a business plan I decided to edit into a series of blog posts. You can find the rest of the content here