…and what KPIs are.

Yesterday’s post pointed out what KPIs are not, namely:

  • Goals
  • One-time measures
  • Metrics which don’t drive business performance
So what are KPIs? (Good KPIs, anyway).
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What KPIs aren’t.

Magic Dashboards is all about helping you monitor, understand, and make better decisions from your KPIs, in the most straightforward and masterful way possible.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator) gets badly abused as a term. KPIs are not: Read the rest of this entry »


How to save your skin with sensible alerting

Have you ever been caught out by not knowing that something in your business was going off track until it was too late?

And have you ever been overwhelmed by the massive amount of data and KPIs that are continually produced by your business, so that you spend far too long checking on the figures rather than focussing on building?

Things happen all the time which hurt you till they’re spotted and fixed – some part of a complex system goes wrong, or one of your external service providers messes up, and it doesn’t get picked up and repaired until it’s already become major. This stuff costs businesses a lot of money, both in revenue loss from noticing problems too slowly, and in staff time lost anxiously checking on the figures.

Here’s how to do it right, so that you can set and forget metric monitoring and alerting which will keep your business safe from harm:

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Let it snow (unless you’re Amazon)

Do you remember the massive freeze in the UK this time last year? Nobody was going anywhere. If you’ve forgotten, check out the weather charts here, and note that the temperature high was 1c in London (the warmest bit of the UK) and the low went down to -17c in Wales. It was freaking freezing, and the roads were not usable.

All this had a very painful effect on online retail. Take a look at the chart below, which shows daily UK Google searches for “Amazon” in 2010 (red line) vs 2011 to date (blue line).

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Taking the iPad to bed?

I love it when time series data tells a story. Here’s a beauty, showing daily readership patterns split by device, from a recent Financial Times press release:

What do we learn?

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A Christmas cover standoff

This is about the time of year when horse trading starts over who’s watching the numbers over Christmas. Especially in the retail business, the chaos monkey tends to strike at just the moment when everyone really wants to be at home and offline for once, and definitely not thinking about work.

If you’re lucky, there’ll be someone who doesn’t fancy Christmas, and will welcome the excuse to earn extra martyrdom points for covering the holiday. But if everyone is a Christmas-celebrator, somebody will just have to suck it up and take a look at the dashboards on Christmas Day, in between rounds of Monopoly, to make sure that all is well back at the ranch.  Read the rest of this entry »


The strict patterns of Strictly Come Dancing

Seasonal patterns are fascinating. The basic building blocks are so simple, and reveal interesting facts about consumer behaviour, but they layer into incredibly complex patterns. Unfortunately, it seems that too many businesses forget to take regular seasonality into account, and spend an awful lot of time chasing wild geese as a result.

You can look at the cycles of most popular topics with Google Trends. They don’t give absolute numbers but you can still see the general shapes. For example, “fat” peaks in January. Read the rest of this entry »


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