Business Insight by the Dashboard Light

Do you know more about what’s going on in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. than you do about what’s happening in your business? Sound far-fetched? Maybe a bit, but it’s true that from a technology point of view sometimes it seems easier to track Britney and Bush than it is to keep tabs of your sales and employees.

NetSuite Inc., makers of the Oracle Small Business Suite, thinks that many executives have a better grasp of current events than critical company information. “People are used to looking at things through MyYahoo! Now they can look at their business the same way,” said Zach Nelson, CEO of the San Mateo, Calif.-based company.

To help provide a better view into your company, NetSuite today announced the next generation of its Dashboard, a real-time business intelligence and analytics tools that runs across the company’s product line (which in addition to Oracle Small Business Suite includes NetCRM, NetERP and NetSuite). This new version features trend graphs and more than 20 key performance indicators, adding to the 10 available in the previous version. “We tried to come up with everything we could think of that you might want to do an ad hoc query for,” Nelson said.

The new features are designed, Nelson said, to provide flexibility that includes editing, searching, and sorting through one portlet. The company claim its dashboard is the only real-time, My Yahoo!-like business intelligence and analytics portlet that provides access to information that runs across the entire organization from sales, marketing, and customer service to financials and e-commerce.

NetSuite first introduced dashboards in 2001 in the Oracle Small Business Suite. The company said its approach is different than other portlets because it’s not an add-on module. Every view of information across the application can be a dashboard, which means each user can have a custom view with no need to have an administrator configure the reports that appear on those dashboards.

In addition to the 35 key performance indicators, NetSuite comes with dozens of report snapshots and trend analysis graphs. Because the dashboards are part of the application’s code, there are no integration issues to limit you. “You can also build reports on more complex search. You could say, ‘I want to get a list of all the people who bought X and didn’t get Y. If 100 people bought X and only 50 bought Y, I know there’s a good upsell potential there.”

Nelson added that this focus on upsell marketing will be a feature in Verison 10 of NetSuite’s application, which is due out around March.

In addition to monitoring business activity, NetSuite reports that its dashboard also allows people to perform their day-to-day tasks without having to drill down into the application. The company says its Extreme List Editing feature lets users update opportunities, invoice customers, ship items, and more without having to go into the underlying records.

NetSuite reports that as of today its Dashboards provides the following features, which are available at no charge to subscribers:

  • Business analysis includes opportunity and pipeline analysis, new business, quotes to close, income, expense and profit, as well as employees and payroll.
  • Trend graphs can be launched directly from the Dashboard or from within a key performance indicator drill-down.
  • Comparatives for “as of” snapshots allow users to set custom time frames for their snapshots. For examples, you could look at the top customers as of 10 days ago and instantly see updates from a different time reference with the click of a button.
  • Quick Date Selector and Date Quick Links offer two ways to change the date range on your Dashboard, allowing you to analyze your business data over the current week, month, quarter, or year.
  • Quick Add, Recent Records, and Lists features are designed to let you speed up data entry and record access.

    Dan Muse is executive editor of’s Small Business Channel and EarthWeb’s Networking & Communications Channel.

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