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. Good luck explaining that to granny. And good luck doing it on your parents’ dialup.

The holidays problem has always bugged me. It seems ridiculous that we rely on humans to log in and look at the figures, when computers could watch them just as well, and shout if and only if there’s an issue. These kinds of alerts have existed for years for whole-system failures, but not for important variations in business numbers.

We’ve decided that Magic Dashboards’ first magic product will be a monitoring product for just this problem – not just Christmas, but for night time, weekend, and during the day when you need to get some real work done. It will watch your business metrics, analyse the patterns, and raise the alarm (probably by email or text to start with) when something goes away from normal behaviour. The intention is that you’re left free to focus your mind on the business, or to relax, without needing to do low-value ‘check-ins’ all the time.

I’d love to know if this is something you’d use – and if so, what would you monitor? Do you already have a home-grown solution for this, and have you ever been burned by stuff happening to your metrics while your back was turned?

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