We're growing. We have more projects, more clients and more employees. That made us think - wouldn’t it be cool to have a place where the entire team could see what's going on around Infinum? Something that would, at a glance, show us core metrics relevant to our business.
After doing some research, we decided to make a real-life dashboard with the help of Geckoboard. Geckoboard is a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) that offers integration with a wide range of other services like Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Basecamp and many more.
Geckoboard taps into all these sources of data and generates an informative webpage that can be displayed in a web browser on any Internet connected device. It runs in the cloud and doesn’t require any downloads or maintenance.
A couple of widgets we decided to run on the dashboard are:
- Pipeline status - at any time, we can see how many deals we have in the sales pipeline, how many we're working on at the moment, and how many have been delivered (and need to be invoiced or are awaiting payment)
- People in the office - we'll talk about this more in the future, but, in general, we have a system that knows who's in the office at any given moment. So on the dashboard, you can find out how many people are in the office.
- Local time - since we do business with clients in widely different time zones, we need to be aware of their local time
- Google Analytics - shows us the number of unique visitors during the last 7 days, as well as the current number of visitors to our website
- Social media widgets - Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter widgets display the number of people who follow us on a particular social network
- App downloads - shows us the number of active users of a particular application on App Store (in this case, the Fojo app)
We're still refining this and trying to figure out what we could display here that would be either cool or useful.
Although many good things come for free, quality software usually doesn’t (and we know that very well). Geckoboard requires a subscription fee, which, in general, varies with the size of the company. Based on their needs, users can choose from Personal, Team, Company and Enterprise packages.
On the other hand, there is also a 30-day grace period, during which users can try Geckoboard for free.
Building the dashboard
We wanted our Infinum dashboard to be visible to as many people as possible - all employees as well as clients and other visitors. In order to do that, we decided to run it on a TV mounted on the wall of our office reception.
Of course, showing a website on a TV requires either that the TV is “smart” or connected to a computer. As smart TVs are rather expensive in comparison to their regular brethren, we selected a cheaper and somewhat flexible solution - we paired a normal TV with a Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi is a very small, energy efficient, ARM-based computer. Because of its diminutive size, it can easily be hidden behind a TV. To reduce the number of cables running from the back of the TV as much as possible, we combined our small Pi with a WiFi USB dongle.
Finally, we programmed the TV to power on only during weekly work hours.
The two main components of the dashboard are:
- TV - LG 32LN536B
- Raspberry Pi
We also needed:
- SD card
- WiFi USB dongle (Edimax WLAN EW-7811Un)
- Micro USB power charger for Raspberry Pi
- VESA wall mount
- HDMI cable
- Geckoboard dashboard
- Midori browser
In the end we really like how our Infinum dashboard turned out. It gives our front office a fresh look and reminds my colleagues and me, on a daily basis, that our firm is growing and evolving. This dashboard is a new metric which gives us the drive to keep doing good work.
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