This Saturday, I gave a talk at an event organized by one of my favorite communities: Utah Geek Events. If you read announcement #3 in my last post, you know my talk was titled "Be a Data Hero and Drive Business Results". 

After having made a number of the analytics mistakes I spoke about in the session, I knew I had to find a better way.

So I did. Here's what I learned..

Dashboards - Don't Let Them Fool You

While dashboards can be a good tool to give us a quick glance at what seems to be going on with our business/product, they can also be dangerous when used as a crutch. 

Simply tracking metrics and coming up with a pretty, colorful dashboard doesn't mean you're tracking the right metrics (or tracking them for the right reasons). 
More importantly, if you aren't evolving from data reporting to data analysis**, where the meaning of the metrics and specific actions are provided along with the data, then you aren't utilizing the wealth of information you have available to you. 

Don't let the fact that you (or someone in your organization) puts together a dashboard fool you into thinking you're "data-driven".

Choose The Right Metrics

Right now you might be thinking "Ok, but how do I choose the right metrics to track?"
I'm glad you asked. Here are some guidelines:

  1. What is THE most important metric for your business/product right now?
    This is your One Metric That Matters*.
    Your whole company or team should focus on this metric, and it should be displayed for everyone to see.
  2. Your business model and stage of growth should be taken into account when selecting the other metrics you should be tracking. 
    - SaaS companies will probably care about different metrics than a mobile app would care about.
    - A company still validating that there is a market for their product should track different metrics than a company scaling their validated product and market.
  3. Most importantly, the metrics you track and analyze should be able to change the way you behave. 
    For example, if you agree that you will kill Feature X if less than 20% of your users use it over the next 4 weeks, then there is a good business reason to track the usage of Feature X. 

What Analytics Challenge Do You Have?

Think for a minute about the current state of analytics and metrics in your company or team. If you're brave, answer the Qs in the comments section below, and we can have a discussion. 

  • Do you track metrics?
  • Do you have a good reason to track those metrics specifically, or are they just the ones that come standard with the analytics tool your company decided to integrate?
  • If you are tracking metrics, are you reviewing them regularly?
    (It is so sad to see companies pay money for an analytics tool and then just never look at the data the tool provides them with.)
  • Do you know what your One most important and critical metric is? Can you identify it today?
  • What is your biggest challenge or concern when it comes to your metrics and analytics?

* Please read Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster. Or if you want, I can come tell you about it. 
** Also please check Avinash Kaushik's blog and books, including Web Analytics 2.0, which heavily inspired my talk.