What is the Difference between BI Reports and a BI Dashboard?

What is the Difference between BI Reports and a BI Dashboard?


Business Intelligence (BI) reports and BI dashboards are both essential tools in data analysis and decision-making, but they serve different purposes and offer distinct features. Here we go over the differences between the two.

BI Reports: are comprehensive and often detailed documents that present data and analysis in a structured format. They typically consist of multiple pages or sections and provide in-depth insights into specific areas or topics. 

Some of the key characteristics of BI reports are:

  • Data Presentation: BI reports present data in a more traditional and static format, such as tables, charts, graphs, and visualisations. They are designed to provide a comprehensive view of the data, often incorporating historical trends, comparisons, and detailed analysis.
  • Customisation: BI reports offer a high level of customisation, allowing users to tailor the content, layout, and formatting according to their specific needs. Users can choose the data elements, metrics, and visual representations most relevant to their analysis.
  • Granularity: BI reports often provide a more granular level of detail, allowing users to explore and drill down into specific data points or subsets of the data. They enable deeper analysis and understanding of the underlying trends and patterns.
  • Scheduled Distribution: BI reports can be generated on a predefined schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) and distributed to relevant stakeholders via email or other channels. This ensures users receive the latest information without actively accessing the reporting tool.
  • Longer Timeframes: BI reports are suitable for analysing data over longer periods, such as months or years. They are well-suited for tracking historical performance, identifying trends, and conducting comprehensive analysis.

BI Dashboards: BI dashboards, on the other hand, are interactive, real-time visual displays that provide a snapshot of key metrics and performance indicators. They offer a condensed and dynamic view of data, enabling users to quickly assess the current state of affairs. The main characteristics of BI dashboards:

  • Real-time Data Visualisation: BI dashboards present data in visually appealing and interactive formats, such as charts, graphs, gauges, and scorecards. They allow users to monitor key metrics and performance indicators in real time, providing instant insights into business operations.
  • At-a-Glance View: BI dashboards are designed to provide a concise, high-level overview of essential information. They focus on presenting critical KPIs and metrics on a single screen, allowing users to quickly grasp the status and identify trends or anomalies.
  • Interactivity and Drill-Down: BI dashboards often include interactive elements that enable users to drill down into specific data points, explore different dimensions, and filter information based on their needs. This empowers users to dig deeper into the data and uncover insights.
  • Dynamic and Responsive: BI dashboards update in real-time, reflecting the latest data as it becomes available. They can respond to user interactions – such as filtering or selecting data and updating visualisations accordingly.
  • Operational Focus: BI dashboards are primarily for operational monitoring and decision-making. They are well-suited for tracking current performance, identifying issues or opportunities, and making quick, data-driven decisions.

In summary, BI reports are comprehensive, customisable documents that provide detailed analysis and historical trends, while BI dashboards offer real-time, condensed views of key metrics, emphasising interactivity and operational monitoring. Both tools play complementary roles in the BI landscape, catering to different user needs and analysis requirements.

Date: August 14, 2023

Author: Morris

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