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IBM spiffs up its dashboard

Looking to counter Microsoft's Maestro, IBM is set to release a dashboard application tied to its WebSphere Portal.

IBM is developing software designed to give office workers a window into corporate strategy, from the CEO on down the organization chart.

The company intends to release a so-called corporate dashboard product next month, which will be an add-on application to its WebSphere Portal. With it, employees will be able to get a picture of how they are meeting specific corporate goals, according to IBM executives.

Called WebSphere Portal for Business Strategy Execution, the software provides visual tools for dividing up aspects of a larger business effort, such as reaching a sales number, among different employees.

The dashboard is meant to give workers a quick way to see whether they are achieving their goals. For example, a screen can have red downward arrows to indicate that there are a growing number of customer service complaints.

Administrators can set up connections to back-end systems that will allow individual sales people and managers to view up-to-date information on reaching those goals, said Jeremy Dies, offerings manager for IBM Workplace.

Microsoft earlier this year detailed a new product code-named Maestro designed to give end users access to business reports from Office applications.

Data analysis companies, such as Cognos and Hyperion, which provide business-intelligence tools, are also adding dashboards to their reporting and analysis suites.

IBM said its dashboard product will not compete with those business-intelligence tools because they are used by so few people in an organization. Its portal-based dashboard tool can be used without significant training, said Dies.

Also, IBM's WebSphere Portal for Business Strategy Execution is designed to specifically work with management methodologies, such as the Balanced Scorecard. These management methods provide guidelines on how to break up tasks and measurements that should be tracked.