Have you noticed the exploding trend online regarding the”Internet of things”? As of St Patrick’s day 17th March, Twitter has 169000 mentions for the previous 30 days, this should then be added to the 98000 tweets that reference IOT (Internet of things), to a grand total of 267000 tweets about this subject. That’s not as impressive as the number of references I found on 1Direction (1D + 1Direction) at 3.4million! However this article is all about business and 1D are all about music ….. oh and business I guess, but you get my point. 267000 tweets generates a lot of interest and information about the ”internet of things” , most of this information tells us all the wonderful things we should expect to see over the next few years. It is human nature and curiosity that generates a love to see the new and exciting things around us and so the innovation news cycle continues.
We see this situation often in business, the pursuit of the next latest and greatest idea with an aim to galvanize a team to a new improved performance levels and profit. A lot of time is spent on promoting the new idea and vision and even a whole new strategy is rolled out into the work place. Do you ever wonder why the new idea replaced the old one? Are these leaders chasing rainbows and unicorns or are the decisions based on missed accurate data and information sets?
He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The small details matter to generate a true big picture (big data). The process to gather the correct and meaningful data to make leadership decisions is of great importance for everyone in the business. Here is a typical scenario, a company spends $15000 on a marketing activity and yet the direct return was only $6000. At first the data shows this was not a good investment to make. The campaign flopped and the marketing team produced the “my back is against the wall” line of “it’s about branding; we got a $6000 return and invested $9000 on branding”. So the sales teams are disappointed, operations wonder why we ever spend money on marketing and marketing are already onto the next campaign plan. However after a 3 year period it is discovered that the 30 new customers who bought the first $6000 products and services went onto buy a total of $58000 worth of sales. Now these figures make the marketing campaign into a much bigger success story.
Sample size and trends
Data point selection and time scales are an often overlooked part of data analysis amongst many companies. Do you still operate within a business using weekly and monthly performance charts? Have you considered amending the data samples to show real statistical trends? Your twelve monthly plots on a chart may not show the same story as a thirty six month graph. The thirty six months will show a real trend of performance and may highlight certain cycles previously not spotted or explored. This information and method of working becomes ever more important in today’s working environment for new leaders. If they gain a fuller perspective overview then this can identify better decisions and reduce short term reactions chasing unicorns.
World class performance and excellence comes from smart work and hard grind. The work may be less sexy and interesting to think about, but is that because you are used to chasing rainbows? It can be as exciting, interesting and more rewarding to review the data details, compile better data sample sets, improve your data accuracy to generate more informed leadership decisions. How many companies are sat on many years of data and yet stored and presented in sample sets that are not even statistically valid? See my prior blog on how to create your own measuring system to generate improved leadership decisions.
If you are concerned that you may be chasing rainbows and unicorns then follow the below simply 5 steps action review of your key performance indicators.
KPI Action Review Point:
1) Do you have the correct number of data points to make statistical representations?
2) Have you considered changing the measurement time frames to identify performance patterns?
3) What is been done to ensure data accuracy within your measurement systems?
4) What is the business value of your metric and how does this link to the company vision?
5) Do your leaders know how to identify cycles and trends through visual and numerical tools?
Did you answer the questions above? If you find no answers or shady conclusions to the above then this affords you a great opportunity to improve your situation. You may only need a small adjustment here and there to your metrics before being best placed to make true quality, high impact leadership decisions. From that point, you may discover your competitors are spending time and money and resources chasing their own rainbows and unicorns whilst you benefit from the rewards of the hard grind.
The Internet of Things is well on it’s way and offers some true exciting opportunities within business intelligence systems and leadership decisions. The purpose of this article today is to show we have a mutual responsibility to ensure the quality of data provided to each part of this potential ecosystem is accurate, well informed and as meaningful as possible. Take up the challenge to lay strong foundations so your metrics, business intelligence systems can make full use and benefit for the changes to come. You may discover you have more in common with 1Direction than you think!
Further Reading, free tools and references
- Give your KPI’s a health check using my check list.
- Has anyone seen a real internet of things ecosystem? By Harbor research
- Google trends offers a nice tool to understand how search terms change in time
- Sample size calculator for Excel
- Trend filtering methods white paper
- Basic Youtube video on sample size statistics (37 minutes)
- Topsy a search tool to discover twitter search trends
- 1Direction (a bit of fun but this video may offer some metaphors?)
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