Business Intelligence (BI) has become a critical factor in gaining a competitive edge. It includes certain strategies and technologies that are leveraged to analyze business performance through data analysis. However, no matter how optimal your BI process is, the actual secret lies with the dashboard you use. After all, BI just manages and creates the data but in order to understand it and get a deeper insight, you need a dashboard.

What is a dashboard? 

A dashboard is a powerful visualization tool that essentially provisions us with the summary and report of the data generated by your BI process. At its core, a dashboard is used to manage the business information and provides a holistic view of the company’s KPIs which helps in making data-driven decisions. There are a plethora of benefits of using a dashboard for your organisation’s performance such as time-saving, insight into customer behaviour, effective strategies, identifying unnecessary operational cost, and better analysis.  

But, while dashboards have become extremely popular in the business world, selecting the right type of dashboard for your business is imperative to reach the desired goal. Essentially, there are three types of dashboards – strategic/executive, operational, and analytical but, the most preferred and commonly used dashboards are executive and operational dashboards.  

Choosing the right dashboard out of these two extensively depends on your objective which is what you aim to achieve by incorporating a specific dashboard. However, the functionality of each dashboard plays a crucial role in determining its usefulness for your purpose too. Therefore, to identify the key differences and determine how these dashboards align with your organisation’s goals, let’s look at their functionalities and features individually. 

1. Executive Dashboard 

Executive or strategic dashboards derive their name from their target audience. These dashboards are specifically used by the senior management(executives) of an organisation. Their main objective is to get reports on the business intelligence for generating a deeper insight and monitoring the long-term business strategies. For this purpose, they provide a high-level view of the business which contains only the most important KPIs.  

Further, they provide better communication for the coordination of goals and targets for product to services, among the various departments of an organisation. 

The most common areas that are tracked through an executive dashboard are: 

Average Contract Value (ACV)
Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)
Number of Customers
Sales target

Customer acquisition value
Customer lifetime value

There are different types of executive dashboards which serve different purposes with the basic functionality of providing detailed analysis for quick and enhanced identification of business strategy concerns. To understand the specific use cases of executive dashboards, we need to examine its examples. One such example of executive dashboards is the CMO strategic dashboard. 

  • CMO Strategic dashboard 

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are in dire need of continuously determining the numbers or traffic of their marketing campaigns. These numbers help them identify the performance of their campaigns, marketing success, and customer reaction. Therefore, they need a straightforward and clear visual representation of all the campaign data and the important KPI’s and the CMO dashboard provides just that. A CMO can get direct insight into different performance indicators through just a glance of the dashboard. They are able to instantly identify their target position through the visually represented factors such as users, leads, MQL etc. 

2. Operational dashboard 

When it comes to shorter strategies and frequent statistics for indicating the performance of various organisational operations, operational dashboards are the best. These types of dashboards provide reports and summary for monitoring short-term business operations and strategies.  

Contrary to the executive dashboards, the operational dashboards are managed and used by the junior management of the organisation. Organisations have recognized the importance of short-term operations and their optimization which is why the operational dashboard can also be used by the higher management depending on the environment and need of an organisation. These dashboards are specifically used to address the real-time data of a particular business area and meet the organisation’s expectations and goals through detailed reports.  

As a key difference, operational dashboards provide more details than the executive dashboards. To understand the need for incorporating an operational dashboard, let’s look at the same use case that we used to identify the use of the executive dashboard. 

  • Operational dashboard for marketing 

Due to the instant alert feature of the operational dashboards and their ability to track individual changes over short-lived tasks, they are a perfect fit for the marketing team. During a campaign, these dashboards are used by the team to keep a close eye on certain performance indicators such as cost per acquisition, the total number of clicks, total acquisitions gained, and the total amount spent.  

This allows the marketing team to quickly analyse their data and performance through super visualisation tools which further allows them to change, adjust, or modify their marketing strategy. The real-time data from the operational dashboard ensures that the marketing team is able to optimize their campaign and generate the best results without the need for time-consuming reports and analysis.  


The difference between an operational and executive dashboard can be better understood through the following questions: 

  • What is your target and its time requirement? 
  • What problems do you want to solve? 
  • Who will be using the dashboard? 
  • What are the characteristics of the data which is to be targeted by the dashboard? 

Depending on the answers to these questions, you can easily identify the most appropriate dashboard to suit your requirements.  

Where an operational dashboard is used by junior-level employees and allows them to target the short-term data analysis to make quick changes, executive dashboards provision the higher management in monitoring the long-term strategies and operations of an organisation. In terms of details, operational dashboards provide a deeper insight into individual tasks whereas an executive dashboard is more useful to get a holistic view of the KPIs.  

Although operational and executive dashboards have somewhat similar functionality of providing a detailed report on the data for any business operation, their use case and specific features defined above provide a comprehensive differentiation between the two and play a significant role in deciding their incorporation into the organisation.