Today, any action we perform can be measured. Every time we open our email inbox, open an app or buy a ticket to the movies, we leave an indelible trail. Now, this represents as much a business opportunity as a danger. Why? Because measuring everything can be the same as measuring nothing. Having too much information can be the same as having none.
Data storage costs us marginally very little and that is why we recently began to store all the information that our systems allowed. That is why today we find ourselves in a situation of “data obesity” where, furthermore, a large part of what is stored is of doubtful quality. On the other hand, the ways in which existing data are integrated are fragile and fragmented, and often generate more confusion than clarity. This means that we “collect” an enormous amount of data, but we do not necessarily “connect” them.
Both are difficult to extract and market, and need substantial investment, but once the infrastructure that sustains them is in place, they become very good business. Only when this structure has been assembled can we give true value to the information we collect.
To plan adequately, adjust and manage our action plan and also to assess performance, to improve and learn.
We should “democratize” the access to information assets, develop disciplines and procedures regarding their use, and identify the necessary abilities at human capital level in order to extract value from them. That is to say, information should be the blood that flows and feeds the organization.
Historically – and for many years in the past – we used “simple” measurement systems, which were appropriate for a large number of occasions and scenarios. In communication, for example, the GRPs (Gross Rating Points), or their cousins, the TRPs (Target Rating Points), and their correlation to a KPI such as sales, were for many years the kings of all metrics. Today, however, that world has come to an end. There is a growing need for customized systems to respond to specific needs. For this, we must:
- Choose the appropriate frame: what is the ecosystem?
- Define what we consider to be success: in only a handful of KPIs, along with other diagnostic metrics.
- Define our own system of equations: pre-defined recipes no longer exist.
- Find the appropriate tools: to capture, make a model of, visualize, etc.
- Accept the fact that we are going to be working with limitations: we cannot and must not measure everything.
Once this direction has become clear, we need to construct the infrastructure that will help us to collect and connect the data. The basis of this, according to the pyramid of information needs, is:
- Clarity of information sources. Which are those that really interest us? Transactional data, social interaction data, visualization, interaction, etc.
- Efficient storage. There are today numerous low-cost forms of storage of large volumes of information, but the processes used to classify and use them in a secure manner must be defined.
- To understand which is the optimal manner of reading, combining, modeling and visualizing them to assist in the process of decision-making. The selection of tools will help us, but will not do the whole job.
The visualization of information also plays a key role, since if it is well constructed; it facilitates the access and understanding of the information, exponentially improving effectiveness in decision-making.
Only with this base of a clear direction, the correct infrastructure and an attractive and easily-understood visualization can the collection of information fulfill its true purpose of adding value to the business and helping to make better decisions.