How Data Flow and Statistics Are Growing in Importance Across Public and Private Sectors

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures Article
The collection of data has never been more important in both the private and public sectors. With the likes of Amazon’s AWS cloud service now offering their Snowmobile data truck that will pull up to your server room, copy your exabytes of data on request, and then drive away to place it in the cloud (saving potentially years of upload time), the size of the data collection effort often relating to customers past and present is immense.

Big Data & It’s Implications

The era of big data is certainly upon us. Collecting the data isn’t the big problem now. For companies and public services like the healthcare sector, sifting through the data and organizing it into useful records that inform at the right time to make better decisions is the real challenge ahead of us. Big data and its data management are becoming a specialist area in its own right now because of the complexities involved.

In the health field, health informatics is a fairly new area that specializes in the collection and management of computer health files. There’s an online master in health informatics degree at the University of Cincinnati where students learn the fine art of data management, protecting systems from a security breach and what to do for disaster management. Their online MSHI program prepares health staff for the patient data challenges ahead from privacy concerns to merging technology and data record access together to let both doctors and nurses have access to patient records when and where they need it.

Web Analytics

The concept of data analytics for anyone who owned a website was something that often passed them by. Some webmasters in the early days didn’t know who was visiting their website, how long they stayed or what pages they viewed. They might have known how many people visited yesterday, but beyond that, the information was far too limited to be really useful.

With the advent of Google Analytics, a free web analytics SaaS from the search giant, the ability to see how many people were visiting, what they did, which pages were the most popular, the average on-page time and host of other pertinent information were available at your fingertips.

Using Data to Get an Edge Over the Competition

Data is becoming a specialist area now. How to collect it, store it and analyze it for potential advantages. Managers can pose the question whether the company has enough stored information to properly determine whether existing customers will approve of a new product launch, a redesign or simply a new flavor or color choice. Data experts can then determine the best way to go about confirming the information that’s being requested using all the available resources available to them with in-house data, along with public information sources like message boards, Facebook groups, Twitter feeds, and more.

It’s fair to say these days that it’s all in the data. For busy or cash-strapped public and private organizations, not having to guess saves money and time while speeding up implementation of ideas to turn them into reality.

Doing Big Business With Big Data? Avoid These Big Dangers

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures Article
Photo courtesy of Pexels

Big Data is that important that businesses are doing more than using it to increase traffic. Today, savvy enterprises realise there is money to make, and they are trying to monetise the information they have. In fact, this blog has a post about why a business needs to start monetising data.

There is no doubt that companies can make a lot of money from information, as seen by Big Data’s rise in popularity. However, just because there is an opportunity for revenue doesn’t mean it is worth taking. Before you attempt to get into the Big Data world, you should understand the big pitfalls.

Here are the ones to watch out for regarding monetising info.

Ownership Rights

Don’t make the mistake of assuming the data is yours to sell in the first place. It is important to remember that the company might not have the rights depending on the chain of events. For example, you might not have asked customers to accept the terms and conditions when they landed on the site. Or, the info might have come from a third party which muddies the waters. Before any data goes on sale, you need to have the right of ownership. Otherwise, they could be a lawsuit in the firm’s near future.

Contracts And Privacy Policies

Understand that the contracts and policies which apply now might be void in the future. It is possible for a stipulation to exist which terminates the security protocols in place and leaves the firm vulnerable. At the very least, a disclosure will be necessary to cover all of the bases. As a rule, take a look at the policies which relate to data and double check the fine print. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Laws And Regulations

The government takes the transference of data seriously, particularly in the day and age of extremist terrorism. Therefore, they pass laws which prevent the sale or transmission of certain pieces of information. If you are in possession of such a file and don’t comply, the consequences will be severe. Depending on who the info goes to, it could be treason. The way to stay on the right side of the law is to research ITAR compliance and EAR compliance. These are the regulations that deal with data transference.

Probably the biggest issue with monetising data is confusion. Because there is a lot to handle, it is easy to mess up the collection and storage processes. Not only does this affect the money side of things, but it is also a security flaw. Big data monetisers, to avoid this problem, form different organisations to specialise in this area. Although it seems like a big move, it is a clever and hassle-free way to cash in on data. Keeping the two sides separate negates confusion and smoothes out the business side of things.

There are lots of opportunities with Big Data, but there are lots of dangers, too.

8 Essential Tracking Strategies You Need To Succeed

In the business world, success is everything. You don’t need to have a capitalistic mind to agree: Without success, your business fails. Costs increase, profits fall, and ultimately the business faces bankruptcy. But success depends on your ability to take strategic decisions that will benefit the company. Most entrepreneurs, when they launch their first business, tend to imagine that the skills of business management come naturally to those who are in the right position. In reality, effective management relies on informed decisions. These strategic decisions we’ve mentioned, they don’t just come as divine inspiration. They are the result of thorough and analytical research, done by experts in their fields. In other words, great business decisions come from using the appropriate business data. You need to track your performance today to find room for improvement and to grow your business tomorrow. Sounds simple enough, wouldn’t you say? Here’s a list of the most important tracking strategies that you need to implement in your company.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Why do businesses need to track data?

It’s well known that large companies have implemented complex tracking strategies within their structure. Small businesses, on the other hand, tend to reject the idea of tracking as they often consider it a waste of time. Nobody can blame small companies for coming to that unfair conclusion. After all, they don’t have sufficient resources or time to create large-scale data tracking strategies. But becoming a data genius in a small company can still be a useful way to identify useful data for your business survival. Tracking everything is time-demanding. Nevertheless, it’s important to gather knowledge about everything that relates to your business, including employees, customers, and web interactions – assuming you have a website. Thankfully, there are a few useful tools that can be easily implemented, even in small companies, and that are designed to provide you with the necessary knowledge to take informed decisions: CRM tools, task management tools, and web traffic tools are already available on the market.

How is your SEO performance?

When your website is your main marketing tool and the key tool of your online presence, it’s essential to make sure that it is equipped to rank high in the search engine results. As a result, most companies need to work on a regular basis with a specialist agency that offers practical SEO audits services. The audit will highlight areas of improvement and identify strategies to improve your ranking scores. It’s also important to stay on top of the Google ranking updates so that your website doesn’t suffer any penalties for not following the latest SEO best practices promoted by Google. As a rule of the thumb, SEO audits consider your keyword choices and its ranking in comparison with your competitors. It also helps you to identify further relevant keywords that you might be missing. Additionally, it will highlight technical changes that need to be made to improve your ranking abilities, such as adding micro data and respecting the etiquette.

Is your branding consistent?

For businesses, whether online, offline or both, your branding strategy is your identity. Consequently, keeping a consistent brand identity is the best way to convey an image of reliability for your business. If you start by changing your logo and then play with the layout, the color scheme, and the content until you’ve found a brand image that you like, you risk losing a lot of customers in the process. Your visitors want to feel like they are interacting with the same company when they read your online content. This means that the tone of voice in your product pages and your blog articles needs to remain the same; the social media platforms need to promote your business values too; and finally you need to share the same visual look and feel across all platforms – in short, don’t use a different logo or color scheme between your website and your Twitter account, for example. Consequently, tracking your brand online presence is the most effective way to guarantee that you share a homogenous message.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Are you a social media influencer?

The great thing about using social media platforms is that you can engage directly with your customers, leads, partners, and investors. The problem is that too many companies tend to use social media in a very self-centered manner. They only talk about their brand, but they don’t create any exchange with other social media users. This kind of social media strategy is pointless and doesn’t generate any positive result for the company. Therefore, you should investigate the possibility to track social media engagement, as a way of monitoring the effectiveness of your social media strategy. There are plenty of ways to measure engagement, and the best strategies combine several tracking methods. Monitoring likes and shares on your social media posts indicates how other users reacted to your message. You will need to add audience growth indicators to ensure that your posts are touching a wide group. Finally, keeping track of active fans vs. passive fans is also a solid indication of your performance.

What’s the ROI of your website?

Thanks to Google Analytics and Google Adwords, small companies don’t need to pay to track the performance of their website. Using the Analytics tracking code, you can stay informed in real time of how your website is doing and how people are using it. Additionally, you can create conversion tracking codes, which are used to track positive interactions on the website, such as a customer registering to a membership program or someone committing to purchase. Conversions can help you to give a monetary value to your website. For eCommerce sites, the monetary value is pretty easy to define, as all you need to do is to track the actual purchase value. You can use this value to identify the most valuable content on your site. Pages that receive little views and don’t generate a conversion have no ROI. For websites that don’t offer online products to buy, the monetary value will be defined by combining the digital touchpoints that lead to a business purchase. Pages that are not viewed, again, may not support revenue growth for the website.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

What is the overall productivity in the workplace?

If you’ve heard that your employees are your most precious asset, you might want to measure the truth of that saying in the workplace, namely by monitoring your business productivity. For a lot of companies, the idea of tracking business productivity brings to mind an image from Modern Times with Chaplin running through a factory to finish his task. In reality, monitoring productivity can be done in any line of work and provides useful information for improvement. In offices, it’s about tracking the amount of time spent on each project, using a time management tool. This is extremely useful to identify issues with projects and with work practices so that most the project manager and the employee can think of the ideal solution for their problems.

What’s the employee’s satisfaction?

Using smart and playful survey system, you can track the level of satisfaction of your employees. What this means is that you can very easily identify frictions and pressure points before they damage your team. For instance, this kind of survey is extremely useful if you are implementing a new business strategy. You should run a survey at the beginning of the implementation and a few months later when everyone has got used to the change. This allows you to track good ideas, and change management direction before your employees leave you. Additionally, employee satisfaction surveys need to be run yearly, even if you don’t introduce new strategies. Consider it a checkup on your business health.

Don’t let competitors surprise you

Competitors never stop working on a new service product or way to approach the market. Consequently, you should alway keep an eye on their activities to make sure that you are prepared for anything new. Beware, this doesn’t mean engaging in illegal spying activities. It’s about making the most of useful marketing tools to keep yourself informed! Working with SEMrush enables you to track the keyword ranking of your competitors in any search engines. Not only can you discover relevant keywords but you can also find out their best-performing ones. Ads tracking tools – SocialAdNinja for example – are extremely useful to spy on effective campaigns and eventually learn a few tips from your competitors! The more you know about their activities, the better equipped you are to beat them. But remember: What you do to them, they can do to you too, so be smart with your marketing and don’t plagiarize their ads.

What are the latest digital trends?

The digital trends change and evolve all the time. From responsive design, marketers have now moved to interactive video strategies and virtual reality integration. In other words, keeping track with the market trends means that you can provide your customers with a communication campaign that is anchored in real time and respond to their needs.

Tracking data is the only way for businesses to aggregate knowledge about the performance of their employees, their customers, and their websites. Knowledge is the base to build further successful campaigns and business strategies. But knowledge is only a platform for more creativity. Data don’t provide the solution. They only paint the situation. Innovative thinking and imagination as a response to identified problems are what success is made of.

Surf your data!

Is your strategy built on received wisdom or analysis of performance data? – management rhetoric or business reality?

Are you building your business strategy on received wisdom or real data? Corporate strategies are often based on assumptions about what drives business performance rather than data from the company itself. J.W. Marriott (founder of Marriott Hotels) is famous for saying “You’ve got to make your employees happy. If the employees are happy, they are going to make the customers happy”. TNT Express promotes the slogan “Take care of your people, let them take care of your customers and the rest will take care of itself”. The implication is that happy employees make happy customers, which drive profits. But does this really happen in your organisation?

The problem is that often some drivers of performance aren’t measured at all; let alone the correlations between them. For example, you may believe that loyal employees create satisfied, loyal customers, but do you have data which demonstrates that your longest serving staff create the highest levels of customer loyalty? Another assumption is that loyal customers are the most profitable; we’re often told ‘it is five times more profitable to serve existing customers than loyal customers’. It makes sense. The better we know our customers the better we are likely to serve them. And because customer spend tends to increase over time, it may well be cheaper to serve long-term customers than keep attracting new ones. But, can you prove this is the case in your organisation?

Performance topology mapping is a tool that can help with this analysis. The first step is making sure that you’re measuring the right thing. So if your business is built on the assumption that employee loyalty is necessary to create loyal customers, collect loyalty data. Identify your key performance indicators, and then measure the correlations between them in order to build a map of business drivers.

The findings can be astonishing. For example, the link between customer loyalty and financial performance is often regarded as a basic principle of retail management. However when they came to explore the data in their own organisation, the management of one home improvement retail chain discovered that there was no such correlation. They could not prove that the stores with the most loyal customers were the most profitable.

Analysis of the performance topology map of one of the UK’s big four grocery superstore chains also revealed counter-intuitive results. Its management bought into the idea that satisfied employees created customer satisfaction which drove store profitability. But the data revealed negative correlations! In fact the stores with the highest levels of employee satisfaction were the least profitable. The explanation for this lay in the value proposition: customers in these stores did not value contact with staff so much as product availability, price and checkout speed. Therefore their shopping experience did not hinge on the quality of their interaction with employees.

In other businesses, of course, the interactions between staff and customers are likely to be much more critical. Take, for example, the professional services of clinicians or lawyers. Their services are based on more sophisticated interactions between staff and clients, and long-term business relationships may well be an essential part of the value proposition. Therefore employee engagement is likely to be a more important driver of profitability in professional services.

Understanding the performance drivers is crucial. Because failing to understand what drives profitability is to fail to understand why your company has succeeded… or indeed failed. The reality is that your business strategy is based on all sorts of assumptions about what investments will yield increased market share, revenue growth or profitability. To get the strategy right, better start testing those assumptions… surf the data wave!

About the Author

Dr. Rhian SilvestroDr. Rhian Silvestro is Associate Professor of Operations Management at Warwick Business School. Rhian has conducted service management research in a number of large, leading edge organisations including retail companies, banks, transport companies, health services and call centres. She has publications in over ten international journals in the fields of service design, performance improvement and supply chain integration.

Organizational Performance Measures Best Practice 36 – Performance Measure Development Sheets

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures Best Practice ArticleEffective performance measurement systems consist of high-quality individual measures associated with a strongly interrelated framework. Using this deliberately developed framework, leaders ascertain organizational performance quickly and accurately. The system itself should be economic to maintain and provide readily available updates typically necessitating a degree of automation. Quality systems present the same view of performance to a broad number of individuals within the organization concurrently. To achieve all of these qualities, each measure must be well thought-out and developed individually and then integrated into the collective system.

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Additional Information

Additional information on the individual characteristics of quality performance measures and their construction can be found in the following StrategyDriven articles and documents:



  • Organizational Performance Measures – Types
  • Organizational Performance Measures – Construction

About the Author

Nathan Ives, StrategyDriven Principal is a StrategyDriven Principal and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.