What differentiates a regular desktop widget from an enterprise widget? Not much from a technology point of view. The difference lies in the kind of information they promote and the value of that information to users. Generally available consumer widgets tend to provide generally available information about the weather, stocks, sports, etc.
But by bringing this technology inside the corporate firewall and pointing it at your database or business intelligence system, you gain a valuable scorecard or dashboard for every department. From help desk employee notifications with desktop alerts to marketing and sales teams that want real-time KPI dashboards (key performance indicators) for important programs or customers, the transformation from “widget” to “enterprise widget” adds a lot of value.
One of the keys to the success of an enterprise widget deployment is its flexibility. If the operations team prefers its widget to look like a sidebar displaying 10 different metrics it’s no problem. If the sales team wants its web and mobile dashboard to be accesible in a web-browser or on their iPhone or any other device, that’s no problem either.
Skeptics that question the value of an enterprise widget may say that this kind of digital dashboard software delivers no new performance data to users that weren’t already available to them through the existing CRM, ERP, or business intelligence tool. In fact, because of its small size, an enterprise widget delivers a lot less information than these other applications. But therein lays its value.
An enterprise widget promotes business performance metrics on the desktop instead of inside a complicated CRM application that the user must choose to launch. This means the enterprise’s performance remains visible all day. Rather than only seeing KPI metrics reports at a weekly meeting, the people that can effect improvements and react to change can monitor enterprise performance all the time while fulfilling their daily responsibilities.
The critics that point out that these miniature enterprise dashboards can’t display much information are actually highlighting the strength of an enterprise widget: it should only report the short list of KPIs that both matter to the health of the enterprise and which can be influenced by that particular user.
Presenting a complete list of all available performance metrics would transform your enterprise widget into an enterprise application. And a lot of businesses are already very busy trying to manage and extract value from the expensive enterprise applications they’ve already deployed.
Rather than duplicating the role of ERP systems, an enterprise widget is one way of protecting the enterprise’s systems investment. A properly designed widget can extend the value of the entrenched data sources by encouraging user adoption and a culture of metrics based performance management for non-technical users.