The cheaper dashboard

Forrester colleague Oliver Young makes a convincing argument about widgets and mash-ups:

In a business context this style of data and content presentation can be tremendously valuable, despite the relative simplicity of the application. Think of this same graphic with sales data versus plan, feature burn down rate, or project milestones over time. This information is available today, of course, however the presentation of that data is not nearly as elegant or accessible. Business intelligence software — which this application most closely resembles — is not yet focused on these simple, business-friendly applications, and thus far no mashup or widget vendors have focused on this type of solution for the enterprise.

Exactly. The framework, such as enterprise portals, for presenting this kind of information has been around for a while. The real obstacle to the "dashboard dream" has been the cost of building the dashboard--either for each user, or, preferably, by each user.

Maybe the killer apps of the next few years will be, to quote Oliver, "simple presentation mashups and widgets" (let's abbreviate them SPMWs) with one key addition: "that business users build for themselves." Understanding those business users, and knowing how to market to them, may be even trickier than building the technology itself. But these SPMWs may may be the biggest opportunity in the technology industry, particularly in people who have been avoiding a lot of the industry's technology.