Performance Dashboards, Second Edition by Wayne Eckerson

If you’re looking for your first book on business intelligence, dashboards and performance management, this is it. And if you own the first edition, you’ll appreciate the new chapters, case studies, and reorganization of the material.

Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business by Wayne Eckerson is quite possibly my favorite business intelligence book (Wiley, 2nd edition, 2010, ISBN 978-0470589830). I reviewed the first edition several years ago and recommended it to my clients, regardless of whether they were business users or IT professionals (see my earlier review of the first edition, Performance Dashboards). So I was delighted when a review copy of the second edition arrived at my doorstep. As I began reading, I had two primary questions. First, would it still be the first book I’d recommend? And second, should owners of the first edition purchase the second edition?

I’m happy to say that the answer to both questions is “yes”. Although the book covers the same themes as its predecessor, the book’s contents have been reorganized and over 50% of the material is new. The 308-page book is organized into three parts and 15 chapters. There’s even electronic editions for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Google Books.

The first part, The Landscape for Performance Dashboards, provides a solid foundation of concepts. Business professionals will want to read the chapter entitled Assessing Your Organizational Readiness.  And technical professionals will want to read the chapter entitled Assessing Your Technical Readiness. But both chapters should be read by all readers, as many dashboard projects fail because one side fails to understand the challenges of the other. Which is why part one concludes with a chapter entitled How to Align Business and IT. The chapter on technical readiness presents Eckerson’s BI Maturity Model, which can help technical teams assess not only where they are but also have a productive dialog with their business sponsors about how to get to the next stage in the model.

The second part, Performance Dashboards in Actions, provides brand new case studies for each of the three types of dashboards: operational, tactical and strategic. There are two case studies for each type so readers can compare and contrast the different approaches.

The final part, Critical Success Factors: Tips from the Trenches contains six chapters, each titled “How to…”. These chapters provide helpful checklists that will help organizations structure their requirements and project plans. They’ll also help frame questions to vet potential outsourcing partners.

If you’re looking for your first book on business intelligence, dashboards and performance management, this is it. And if you own the first edition, you’ll appreciate the new chapters, case studies, and reorganization of the material. I’ve seen many dashboard projects fail because either the business sponsors, the IT department, or sometimes both think that they can continue business as usual. There is a third way and Performance Dashboards is a useful guide that can help you find it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

Jim Brogden, Heather Sinkwitz and Mac Holden have created a comprehensive guide to SAP BusinessObjects’ query and analysis tool.

UPDATE: I liked this book I helped co-write later editions. See SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide.

SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence is a brand new 2010 title from SAP Press, who kindly sent me a review copy.  According to its back cover, the book will “provide you with a comprehensive functional overview of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, as well as actionable, step-by-step content to help you quickly begin creating, analyzing, an sharing enterprise reports.”  Authors Jim Brogden, Heather Sinkwitz and Mac Holden have created a comprehensive, hard-cover 574-page  guide to SAP BusinessObjects’ query and analysis tool.

Web Intelligence is used by many types of business and IT users throughout an organization.  However, it is designed primarily for business users, not IT professionals.   I was curious how the authors would define Web Intelligence, as this definition would guide the organization of the material.  From the book’s description of Web Intelligence in Chapter 1:

SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence is a best-in-class ad hoc query, reporting, and analysis tool designed with the business user in mind [emphasis added]…  The primary function of Web Intelligence XI 3.1 is to provide the capability of querying a set of data without any knowledge of the SQL language and interactively analyzing data to further restrict, expand, and modify the way information is displayed and delivered”

A majority of the book is devoted to Web Intelligence report design and is topically well-organized.  There is also significant coverage of universe design and the Web Intelligence SDK, topics that traditionally have different (predominantly IT) audiences.  The Web Intelligence SDK is covered neatly at the end of the book. However, universe design topics appear at several places throughout the book. My personal preference is that a book for Web Intelligence users should focus on the user experience and, to quote the Wizard of Oz, “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”.  That man (or woman) is the universe designer, frequently an IT professional.  That said, I really appreciated the discussion in Section 2.1.1, “Design with the Business User in Mind”.  Technical challenges aside, most universe designers violate this basic rule, resulting in a universe that is not easily adopted by business users.

This book is comprehensive, giving coverage to advanced features like report bursting via Publications, related tools like Live Office, linking multiple report documents, and new features introduced in Web Intelligence XI 3.1 SP2.  Business users who are new to SAP BusinessObjects tools will benefit greatly from the book’s methodical coverage of Web Intelligence.  Traditional SAP users, in particular, should embrace this book readily, as Web Intelligence is replacing older SAP BI tools in the product portfolio.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

WordPress for Business Bloggers

WordPress for Business Bloggers, from Packt Publishing, is a single, comprehensive resource for writers like me who want to create their own business-focused blog.

Editor’s Note: An updated edition of WordPress for Business Bloggers was released after this review was published.

I recently relocated my blog from Google Blogger to WordPress hosted on my own domain. As an IT consultant, I’m used to getting under the hood and mastering new concepts. However, when it comes to blogging, I really just want to focus on writing content, not endless tweaking and maintenance. I was intrigued by the title of Paul Thewlis’ book. WordPress for Business Bloggers (Packt Publishing, 2008, ISBN 978-1847195326) is a single, comprehensive resource for writers like me who want to create their own business-focused blog.

Not limited to just WordPress, Paul additionally delves into related topics such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and monetizing your blog. I’m usually very skeptical of books that choose to go down rabbit trails that are best left to separate titles, but Paul covers these topics well. Paul uses a fictional blog to illustrate the concepts throughout the book. Curiously, his own personal blog isn’t updated very frequently. Paul must be a busy man.

The biggest benefit I personally obtained from the book was the author’s usage and endorsement of various WordPress plugins. There are frequently many plugins for the same task, such as blog rolls, Twitter feeds, etc. The book helped me narrow down some options and also helped me see the value in adding plugins that I had not considered, such as a Google sitemap plugin.

The book uses WordPress 2.6 and I’m currently using WordPress 2.9, but the minor differences do not take away from the usefulness of this guide. WordPress for Business Bloggers is still the only WordPress book on my shelf.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Inside SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

This book by Ingo Hilgefort allows organizations to quickly and confidently deploy Explorer.

Greetings from ASUG2010/SAPPHIRENOW in Orlando, Florida! I am writing this post from a quiet spot just off of the main exhibit hall. Having presented Deploying BI to the Masses with BusinessObjects Explorer at the fall 2009 GBN conference, I was thrilled when the FedEx truck recently brought me a review copy of Ingo Hilgefort‘s new guide, Inside SAP BusinessObjects Explorer (SAP Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1592293407). Explorer is a fantastic innovation from SAP that is best described as “Google for your business intelligence environment”. Depending on your BusinessObjects Enterprise license, Explorer may be something your organization is already licensed to use.

For readers attending the ASUG conference, be sure to check out the Explorer breakout sessions by Ty Miller (0309) and Susan Guess (0404).

This 300-page guide details the innovative Explorer in seven chapters, beginning with “SAP BusinessObjects Explorer – One Piece of Your Business Intelligence Puzzle”. The chapter details the lineage of Explorer, beginning with Intelligent Question that was introduced with BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2, reimagined as Polestar, then rebranded as Explorer. As the title indicates, Explorer is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s simply not possible to have one BI tool that rules them all, but Explorer brings BI capabilities to non-traditional BI users (primarily casual and executive users), leverages the power of existing technologies such as the BusinessObjects semantic layer (universes) and the BW Accelerator, and integrates with existing tools like Web Intelligence.

Chapter Two provides detailed information about installation and deployment. A potential point of confusion is the fact that Explorer comes in multiple editions. The first edition, originally known as Polestar, works with existing BusinessObjects universes. The second edition, known as SAP BusinessObjects Explorer – Accelerated Version, works with SAP BW Accelerator, a blade appliance that works in conjunction with SAP BW. The third edition is known as SAP BusinessObjects Open Accelerator. The Open Accelerator allows non-BW customers to accelerate their existing data sources using the blade appliance and BusinessObjects Data Services.

Chapters Three and Four provide additional implementation details that will help you deploy Explorer in your organization quickly. The remaining chapters conclude the book with details about Explorer On-Demand (in the cloud), Explorer on the iPhone, and lastly, the outlook for Explorer.  Even though currently shipping technology is simply amazing, we are only at the beginning of the journey. Details are still murky, but SAP’s recently announced Sybase acquisition was made because of Sybase’s in-memory and mobile technologies, not their waning relational database products. So it will be interesting to see how the Sybase acquisition, if completed, specifically affects the Explorer road map.

My only disappointment with the book is Chapter Five – Usage Scenarios. The chapter does a phenomenal job describing how Explorer can solve problems in seven different industries (Health Care, Retail, Insurance, Finance, Procurement, Customer Service, and Sales), but there isn’t any sample data provided so readers can mimic the activities presented in the book. That said, this book allows organizations to quickly and confidently deploy Explorer.

My recommendation is to first purchase this excellent book, create a POC (proof of concept) with Information Spaces created from your existing universes, then determine if in-memory database technology is right for your enterprise. ASUG attendees can visit the SAP Press booth and get a special conference discount, perhaps even stalking Ingo at the conference to get an autographed copy.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

My father-in-law gave me a great Christmas gift- a copy of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (McGraw-Hill, 2009, ISBN 978-0071636087). I spend about half of my career using presentation skills, either as a business intelligence instructor, conference speaker, or technical sales consultant.  So I was really pumped that he got something I really wanted but forgot to put on my Christmas wish list.


The book is a nicely structured analysis of one of the technology world’s most fascinating personalities, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.  The author, Carmine Gallo, is a professional communication skills coach.  He takes readers through the entire lifecycle of a Steve Jobs presentation, starting from planning (“Create the Story”), delivery (“Deliver the Experience”) and preparation (“Refine and Rehearse”).  There are other books that focus on creating slides or giving demos – this book is comprehensive and covers the entire experience.

Steve Jobs speaks to a general audience and Mr. Gallo writes frequently about how Steve communicates about technical features in a non-technical way.  For example, the original iPod was “1,000 songs that fit into your pocket“, not “a digital audio player with a 5 GB hard drive”.  In contrast, I’m usually speaking to a technical audience that wants a deep understanding of technology – they’re not looking to buy anything.  So not all of the material translates to what I do.  But regardless of what kind of presenter you are, holding the audience’s attention is the first order of business.  The book has already influenced how I communicate to non-technical audiences, especially when I train business users how to use SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence.  And I’m looking forward to giving the book a second reading.  I’ll also be checking out the hours of Steve Jobs presentations on YouTube.  And editing my recent GBN 2009 presentations for a second go-around with other audiences.

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

Have you read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs? Share your thoughts below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a gift, not from the publisher. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

SQL in a Nutshell

SQL in a Nutshell is available in the iTunes App Store or from traditional booksellers like Amazon.com.

I have a soft spot in my heart for O’Reilly Media. I was first introduced to O’Reilly, aka “the animal books” many years ago in college. I believe my first O’Reilly book was Unix in a Nutshell. It still occupies a space on my bookshelf. Next to it is Learning the Korn Shell. Later, O’Reilly moved beyond it’s traditional Unix and C into Oracle books. I really appreciated Oracle SQL*Plus: The Definitive Guide, when using SQL*Plus as a reporting tool (way back in 1995). Recently, I grabbed a copy of SQL in a Nutshell, Third Edition for my iPhone from the iTunes App Store.

SQL In a Nutshell

Many of my technical books are reference books, meaning that you typically flip to the part you need at the moment as opposed to reading from cover to cover. O’Reilly’s SQL in a Nutshell certainly fits into this category, so I was curious to see how it would work on an iPhone.

Of course, the book is “SQL in a Nutshell”, not “mySQL in a Nutshell”, “Oracle in a Nutshell”, etc. So the book covers ANSI SQL2003 syntax (also known as SQL3), MySQL version 5.1, Oracle Database 11g, PostgreSQL version 8.2.1 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008. One of the changes since the second edition is a “reduced footprint”, which means that Sybase Adaptive Server and IBM DB2 UDB have been dumped from the discussion. I’m not surprised about Sybase (although SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise still supports it as a platform for its system and audit databases). But I was a bit puzzled why IBM DB2 was omitted, although I’m sure O’Reilly knows who their audience is.

The book is organized by topic according to the SQL3 standard as opposed to each database vendor having their own slightly redundant section. Although some might consider the first couple of chapters fluff or filler, I found them interesting, especially since my education was electrical engineering rather than computer science. Chapter one is entitled SQL History and Implementations and covers some academic database terminology, including Codd’s Twelve Principles of Relational Databases. Chapter two is entitled Foundational Concepts and reviews SQL2003 basics and sets the stage for Chapter three, which is the raison d’etre for the book: the SQL Statement Command Reference.

The book concludes with Chapter four, SQL Functions. I am frequently burned by moving amongst different database platforms. Because the book is organized by function rather than vendor, it’s a helpful presentation to understand which functions are common across platforms (although most have options and variations). Chapter four also includes, by vendor, all of the nonstandard functions. I began working with Oracle 7 in 1993 and assumed that everything I was learning was “standard SQL” – until I was on a SQL Server 6.5 project and wondered what happened to Oracle favorites like DECODE and NVL. Fortunately, most databases (including Oracle) now include a more unified CASE statement to use instead of DECODE. And COALESCE is a more flexible version of NVL, although I was surprised to see it is not part of the SQL standard, despite support from multiple vendors.

Having a handy reference on my iPhone means that there’s less stuff to carry (or miss) on traveling consulting engagements. Although SQL in a Nutshell is a book that I’d also like to have in my bookshelf, too. SQL in a Nutshell is available in the iTunes App Store or from traditional booksellers like Amazon.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web

The New Community Rules is invaluable reading for individuals and organizations dipping their toes in the waters of the social web.

I’ve been blogging about SAP BusinessObjects and business intelligence for almost two years. Over time, I’ve started using other social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. And just this month, I became the proud owner of an Apple iPhone 3GS. So this week during a vacation, it made perfect sense for me to read Tamar Weinberg’s recently published The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web – on my iPhone.

The book begins with “An Introduction to Social Media Marketing”, which is helpful when you’re an IT professional and not a marketing professional. Next, Tamar gives pointers for developing your social media goals. She proceeds to give detailed information chapter by chapter on using specific social sites using blogs like Blogger and WordPress, microblogs like Twitter, social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, informational networks like Wikipedia, and social bookmarking sites like Delicious, social news sites like Digg and reddit, and social media sites like YouTube and Flickr.

The New Community Rules reinforced why I’ve already started using the social web to build my “personal brand”, helped me set new goals, and exposed me to sites that I’ve never considered using before. What I most appreciated about the book were the case studies – real stories about real people and organizations using (and sometimes abusing) social media. In addition to building my personal brand, I will be using this information to help my employer engage clients via the social web over the next few months.

Because I read the book on an iPhone, reviewing the reading experience is just as important as the book itself. I’m definitely a geek, but still unwilling to pull the trigger on a Kindle purchase (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 for Kindle). While I’m still not sure that iPhone is the ideal platform for reading every book, it was certainly the perfect device for pool-side reading. Given the subject matter of The New Community Rules, Tamar has included extensive web links to additional resources – which is probably the coolest reason to read it on a web-enabled device like an iPhone.

Ten years ago, we were fixated on search engine optimization for search engines like Excite and Alta Vista (remember those?). We didn’t know we couldn’t live without sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Only time will tell if we will still be using these specific social web sites ten years from now. But I’m sure organizations will continue to use the world wide web to find new ways to connect with customers. The New Community Rules is invaluable reading for individuals and organizations dipping their toes in the waters of the social web. It is available now from the iTunes App Store or in a more traditional format from book resellers like Amazon.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Xcelsius 2008 Dashboard Best Practices

The bottom line? If you’re an Xcelsius 2008 user, this book belongs on your shelf.

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2008 and 2009 creating Xcelsius dashboards for various clients. A book that I have found very helpful is Loren Abdulezer’s Xcelsius 2008 Dashboard Best Practices (Sams Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-0672329951). According to the bio on the back of the book, Loren is editor-in-chief of Xcelsius Journal, the online magazine for Xcelsius users.

Loren’s book provides a comprehensive view on Xcelsius 2008 functionality including samples, which can be downloaded here from the Xcelsius Journal web site. The book contains 16 chapters organized into three sections: Xcelsius 2008 Fundamentals, Xcelsius 2008 Best Practices and Techniques, and Advanced Features. As an IT professional who didn’t use Excel much before Xcelsius, I really appreciate how Loren brings his extensive knowledge of Excel to the material. This includes treatment of statistics, financial analysis and “less-than-optimal” (uh, dirty?) data.

In the “Advanced Features” section, Chapter 15 deals with XML and Data Connectivity. I would have preferred a more robust treatment of Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) and Live Office. But “rather than attempt a cursory across-the-board discussion, this chapter outlines from a hands-on perspective pragmatic issues and techniques for accessing XML data, particularly Excel XML maps”. Of course, treatment of QaaWS and Live Office would have required a big investment in sample universes, reports, BIAR files, etc.

The last chapter, Chapter 16, is about “Creating Custom Components for Fun and Profit” using the Xcelsius Component SDK. Many Business Objects professionals don’t code applications, but the chapter helps Xcelsius developers stick their toe into the water with Adobe Flex Builder and ActionScript/Flash/SWF development.

The bottom line? If you’re an Xcelsius 2008 user, this book belongs on your shelf.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few

A book review of Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design.

NOTE: Information Dashboard Design is now in its second edition, which I review here.

You can, as the adage goes, judge a book by its cover. Take, for example, the spartan cover of Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data. Designed by the author himself, it sets the tone for a book dedicated not to a specific tool or performance management methodology, but instead about improving how dashboards can most effectively present information.

Dashboards are currently the “in” thing to have. You’re simply uncool if your organization doesn’t have one. But let’s face it. Dashboards are often designed and built by IT geeks (of which I am one). And like the wagon wheel coffee table in When Harry Met Sally, many of our dashboard designs should be hauled out to the curb.

“Above all else, this is a book about communication”, writes the author. And Stephen Few delivers, taking the reader on a journey through an unlucky “thirteen common mistakes in dashboard design” (see Chapter 3). Based on research on how humans process visual information (see Chapter 4: Tapping Into the Power of Visual Perception), he lays down principles that shun the “bling” features that look cool in software vendor demos but fall short in actual use. Who knew that sometimes the best way to present numbers is in a, sigh, table instead of a bunch of space hogging speedometers (see Chapter 6: Effective Dashboard Display Media).

In my role of consultant, I am frequently handed a cocktail napkin (less frequently a requirements document) that already lays out the design. So my job is more about following directions, not offering constructive guidance. However, this book has strongly influenced how I approach my work. Though not specifically about Xcelsius (although it is mentioned), I recommend Information Dashboard Design to my students whenever I teach SAP’s Dashboards or Xcelsius 2008. I believe its insights will change how you can improve your dashboards by striving for the effective visual communication of data.

Resources

Stephen Few’s web site is Perceptual Edge. His books can be purchased at Amazon.com and other on-line retailers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book with my own funds. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Performance Dashboards by Wayne Eckerson

If there’s only one BI book on your shelf, make it this one.

UPDATE: Performance Dashboards is now in its second edition. Check out my review here.

Wayne Eckerson is a researcher with The Data Warehousing Institute. He’s created a great book, Performance Dashboards (Wiley, 2005, 978-0471724179),  to address the current trendiness of performance management and enterprise dashboards. Eckerson takes a vendor-neutral stance and supports his assertions both with research and case studies.

The book provides a comprehensive view of performance dashboards and their role in the organization. What I found particularly illuminating were two “big-idea” concepts that alone are worth the price of the book.

The first big idea is Eckerson’s definition of a performance dashboard. While business and IT management may be inclined to define a performance dashboard as merely a high-level representation of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), Eckerson describes a robust three-tier architecture. Using his definition, what is commonly known as the “dashboard” is only the tip of the iceberg. Wayne defines three categories of performance dashboards- operational, tactical, and strategic- each having a tiered three-layer architecture.

The second big idea is is contained in Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 is entitled “Assessing Your Organizational Readiness” and defines criteria that an organization can use to assess their readiness to adopt performance dashboards. Chapter 5 is entitled “Assessing Your Technical Readiness” and presents a Business Intelligence Maturity Model. While “organizational readiness” addresses the entire organization, the “Business Intelligence Maturity Model” specifically addresses the IT organization’s current position on the BIMM scale.

The book can either be read cover-to-cover or by choosing specific topics. As such, it can be a valuable read for IT professionals at all levels as well as business users, managers and executives. My hunch is that readers will be delighted with the new insights they glean, but frustrated with their ability to bring higher business intelligence and change to their organizations. Perhaps the book can provide a common reference so organizations can establish consensus and move forward.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book with my own funds. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”