Top 12 Dashboarding and Data Visualization Features of BI Tools

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(This is a multipart series about how to evaluate and select the right BI tool for you and your team. To see the entire outline of the series and a framework for how to evaluate a BI tool, see How to Select the Best BI Tool for You.)

Like shopping for a car or a new electronic device, there are likely a lot of features that the average Jane won’t need. We aim to cover the breadth of features that the top tools and analysts in the market are talking about.

It’s important to focus on what’s right for you and your use case. We recommend buyers be careful to not let features creep onto their “Want to have” or “Mission critical” lists when doing your research. It can be really easy to learn about a cool feature and then think about all the cool and creative ways you could use it. Curiosity and creativity is to be human.

Remember: You started shopping to fill a specific need. Keep that front and center as you research while getting educated on other cool features and how you may use them after your initial set of requirements are delivered.


Here are the top dashboarding and data visualization features of BI Tools to consider as part of your evaluation.

1. Accessible Dashboards

The solution allows generating accessible dashboards according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA) that confirm to US Section 508 requirements and other accessibility-related laws and regulations.

2. Advanced Visualizations using Python and R

The solution supports creating advanced and sophisticated visualizations by using libraries and packages of Python and R programming languages.

3. Animations

The solution enables data to be presented as an animation, mainly to show changes across multiple groups or time periods.

This can be helpful from time to time, but we find it’s rarely needed on a continuous basis so most teams view this as a “bonus” rather than a critical feature.

4. Auto-charting

The solution guides the users by suggesting the best suitable visualization for the graphical representation of the selected data.

5. Auto-refresh

The solution offers an automatic refresh of charts and visualizations in a dashboard at regular intervals.

6. Dashboard and Report Templates

The solution offers pre-built dashboard and report templates to help quickly getting started with the analysis of data from popular cloud-based systems like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Marketo, Eloqua, LinkedIn, etc.

7. Dashboard Rebranding

The solution allows changing the formatting settings (font, logo, color, etc.) of a dashboard to align it with the organization's brand.

8. Dashboards

The solution allows creating dashboards that provide a single-screen snapshot view of various KPIs, business analytics metrics, and critical data points, placed in the form of panels.

This is such a standard feature that it should be considered table stakes. Any tool worth evaluating should be able to do this.

9. Embed Dashboards and Visualizations in Webpages

The solution allows dashboards and visualizations to be embedded into other webpages.

10. Interactive Data Visualizations

The solution provides charts, graphs, and visualizations with interactions such as scaling, linking, tooltip, mouse, and touch events.

11. Third-party Charts Packages

The solution offers plug-ins and integrations with advanced visualizations and charts packages like D3, etc.

12. Visualizations with Drill-down and Drill-up

The solution provides drill-down and drill-up capabilities to explore multidimensional and hierarchial data, directly from visualizations. The drill-down capability helps to navigate from a more high-level view of the data to a more specific view at the click of a mouse. The drill-up capability helps to navigate from a detailed view to a more summarized view.

These are core features of what we consider “dashboarding” since a set of data visualizations that does not support this sort of interactions should be considered a “report” and not a dashboard.


Follow the links above to read more about core functional requirements of a BI and analytics tool.

Did we miss something? Drop us a line and we’ll see about getting it added.

Need help with your BI tool selection? Book a call with us and we’ll see if we can help. If we can point you in the right direction with a short phone call, great! If you’d like to hire us to do an evaluation and selection for you, contact us and we’ll make a selection together.

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