Your business collects a ton of data. So, why is most of it so useless?
Collecting data is one thing and meaningful information that provides insightful, decision-making advantages is entirely something else. One is pounding on the piano keyboard, while the other is Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu.
Let’s back up a bit. (Or, you can jump ahead and sign up for a DashZen beta invite.)
At Axosoft, we have an annual tradition of challenging our developers to explore new technologies in what has come to be known as our 30-day Projects. We’ve experimented with everything from games to RSS readers and live web chat clients. Even the successful TransferBigFiles.com is the result of a side project. Ultimately, every project has been successful in the sense that we have learned so much from them and improved our core product, OnTime, as a result.
Because we believe these projects have ultimately made our development teams stronger, we expanded the tradition this year to include the marketing and QA teams as well. And to make it a little more fun, we’re forming two teams and creating two ‘startups.’ Within 30 days, our goal is to have ready to go: product, branding, web site, and anything else necessary to launch.
So, we all moved into one big room, turned off the lights, turned down the A/C, and parked ourselves in our new home for the next month. We’ve blown a breaker switch only once so far, and about 80% of our UPS units actually worked.
Now, about that enlightening business dashboard…
In our most recent release of OnTime, we introduced a new dashboard that provides development teams with a no-BS, pretty much real-time, all-in-one glance at the progress they are making on their development efforts. Customers love it.
And so do we:
Agile project management systems like OnTime do an excellent job of managing projects at the item level. Features, bugs, incidents, tasks — all of these things move through a workflow with notifications, alerts and all of the bells and whistles needed to keep developers focused on coding, instead of wasting brain cycles on the project management process. They help get things done on time.
But, for people outside of the development team, a dashboard is far better, because it aggregates the item-level data and answers their 50,000-ft-level questions.
Here’s the interesting thing: Our entire business collects massive amounts of granular data (individual sales, leads, visits, clicks, items, support incidents, etc.), and we’re not really putting that data to work for us.
We don’t need data, we need insight. Thus, one of our 30-day startups was born.
If Zen equals ‘increased awareness’ or ‘enlightenment’…well, you can see where we’re going with this. We believe the right dashboard can crunch all of the data we collect, and provide us with real, meaningful, actionable information.
We know there’s only so much we can do in 30 days, and we’re damned excited to see just how much that is.
Next, I’ll write about the other 30-day startup we’re working on. It has a smaller team working on it, but it’s a product for a more-established market, and it’s something we experimented with before…stay tuned.