A Control Panel for Your Information
Drive your business with Microsoft's new Digital Dashboard.
Microsoft has released the Digital
Dashboard Starter Kit as a free download (available
digitaldashboard.htm). This 10 MB download
is worth the connection time for anyone who wants to
get an idea of where Microsoft's knowledge management
strategy is headed these days.
A Digital Dashboard is, according
to Microsoft, "a customized Microsoft Office 2000-based
solution for knowledge workers that consolidates personal,
team, corporate, and external information with single-click
access to analytical and collaborative tools." The Starter
Kit includes several sample Digital Dashboards, an avalanche
of documentation, and some helpful Office 2000 add-ins
to make it easy to create your own. The basic strategy
of building a Digital Dashboard is to use FrontPage
2000 to create a custom web page that's then used as
the Outlook Today page in Outlook 2000. The result is
an HTML-based view of your company's operations that
also has access to all of the scheduling and other information
already stored in Outlook.
Not since the long-ago Office 4.3
Solutions Development Kit has Microsoft done such a
good job of showing how different Microsoft applications
can work together for a common goal. If you're a developer,
you might have been overwhelmed by all of the releases
recently. The documentation alone here is worth the
cost of the download in helping you sort out how to
make Microsoft products work together. Along with Outlook
and Front Page, the components here include SQL Server,
OLAP Services, the Office Web Components, IE5, Exchange,
and Site Server.
It works. Following the direction
in the Starter Kit, I built my own custom Digital Dashboard-with
views of my most important email and some statistical
information from our web server-in less than an hour.
Whether to buy into this Microsoft-only vision of an
information infrastructure is something that each IT
Department will need to evaluate, but it's definitely
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.