Are You Distracted by the Wrong Data?

“Deeper customer insight, more motivated employees, a razor-sharp competitive edge. With the right investment in big data, you too can harness this power!”
– A Typical Data Article

Sound familiar? Well, that’s hype for you. And lots of companies are spending big money chasing it. The risks of missing out on big data seem too great.

The thing is, many companies don’t actually need big data. At least, not on an everyday basis. Don’t get us wrong: big data has its place. But not all data is created equal.

It’s said that just because something can be measured doesn’t mean it should be. What’s more, just because something should be measured doesn’t mean it’s critical to your business. Your metrics may contain truly unique business insights, but they aren’t all vital signs. You wouldn’t treat the thickness of your fingernails with the same medical concern as your internal temperature. That kind of perspective would be seriously skewed. We could say the same of a company that sweats over amassing tweet favorites… even though they aren’t translating to website traffic and leads.

And yet, some data software products will tell you to do just that with your data: to measure everything you can and immediately respond to any change. That’s a lot of moving needles, levers, and flashing lights—and a lot of distraction.

Strong leadership, dynamic decision making, and company growth don’t flourish in that environment. Take Aetna circa 2001: Performance data from every divisional head could show they’d been profitable; meanwhile, the company as a whole recorded a near-$300 million loss. Distracting data can have a major impact on your company.

Instead, streamline your data. Each department will have metrics that best measure their work, but they should also align with company-wide objectives. Then all employees work toward the same goal instead of being distracted by metrics that don’t directly impact growth. And you can target your energy on the numbers that will help you sleep better at night.

Say you’re an early stage startup, and your main company objective is to get sign-ups. Metrics like site conversion rate, outbound emails click through rate, etc. deserve your focus because they directly affect your main objective. On the other hand, things like your number of white paper downloads may need to take a back seat until company objectives shift. And don’t get sucked into vanity metrics that make you feel good without delivering decision-making power.

Let us help bring your most important and effective metrics together on a clear, beautiful BI dashboard so you can focus on what matters and see the score at a glance.

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