Founder and Principal The Kossoff Group
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Practical analytics: I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours

26th Aug 2011
Founder and Principal The Kossoff Group
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Ever get complaints that your data doesn’t give executives and managers the information they need, asks Leslie L Kossoff.

Or that those same executives and managers can’t use your data to explain to the employees what they need to know?

How about receiving information from the various departments, functions or individuals – inside and out of your organisation – that sort of tell you what you need to know but never quite get you there without a follow-up phone call or email? Or both?

Time was that data presentation was baby stuff. It started with columns, moved to a spreadsheet and grew into simple charts and graphs. That’s no longer near enough.

You want to know why? Blame it on Google.

The Google Analytics game-changer

According to the Neilson Company, there are currently over 167m identified blogs on the internet. According to Alexa, Blogger, Google’s free platform for blogging, has the fifth highest ranking for user traffic in the world.

Now, because it’s Google – and Google loves analytics more than anything else in the world – the company decided to provide its users with all the information they could possibly need. And more. Why? So that Google could sell ads in the guise of giving their non-monetising bloggers all sorts of happy information about their traffic.

It may not be or have been about the money for the bloggers – but it always was and is for Google.

And that’s what the managers and employees in your organisation are used to seeing.

Because, chances are, at least one of them has a blog on Google, Wordpress, Tumblr or any of the other myriad blog and micro-blog platforms that continue to grow and monetise.

Because it’s all – and only – about the money for these companies. As it should be.

From the bloggers’ perspective, however, all it looks like is really excellent data provided on a real-time basis so that the bloggers, too, can make money off of their work.

Practical analytics – today and tomorrow

If you go to Google Analytics (which can be applied to any webpage – not just blogs), you’ll see trend charts that are as general as the number of visitors on a by-day basis to what country they come from (on a map). Dig deeper – by one page – and you’ve got a segmentation by visitor and browser profile as well as how sticky your site is as measured by the amount of time the visitors spend.

Go one step further – by one click – and the Google Ad Planner will help you understand the demographics and behaviours of your visitors so that you can best target how to make money off of your site. Or how Google can.

There are very few words, lots of great looking and easy to interpret graphics so that there is very little real understanding required. Just a willingness to look at pretty pictures and figure out how you can use them to your greater benefit.

Moreover, there is a consistency to the way that Google presents its data – no matter the platform – because whether you’re using their Feedburner service or Google Apps for Business, you’ll find the same types of data presented in the same way.

But even those are becoming old hat. If you want to see what the next generation of practical analytics looks like – and how it can be used on your intranet – take a look at Chartbeat.

This is a real-time analytical tool that breaks down everything you need to know on one page and, with each second passing, updates itself using a colour coded system that pulses.

It’s visually interesting, easy to understand and can quickly be used to target what works and what doesn’t.

Adding value

This is not about whether your data are good or useful. That’s a given.

This is all – and only – about whether the data you present is done in a way that ensures the best, fastest and most responsive decision-making possible.

It’s not enough to simply generate reports. It’s all about the money and the value you add – which is why it’s so important that your function provides the same type and level of data that users are used to seeing on platforms like Google and Chartbeat and the rest.

It’s time to take a different look at what you’re presenting and how – and then steal ideas from the Big Boys. They’ve done the hard work. Now it’s time for you and everyone in your enterprise to benefit.

Read Leslie’s first article in her new series of articles that focus on FDs, CFOs and managers: Want data? Don’t ask finance.

Leslie L Kossoff is the author of From Lean Start-Up to Six Sigma Turnaround: 7 Steps To Your Success. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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