The great engineer and computer pioneer Andy Grove of Intel, famously stated that ‘you cannot measure if you cannot manage – and what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done’. The ability to understand performance, from costs to revenues, from click throughs to retention rates is at the heart of effective management. Below is a great piece from Seth Godin that succinctly points out what many marketers, product managers and technicians know to be true in their hearts: that a regular metric or report that is produced with much reverance and seriousness (and time) – is actually less important and insightful than we say it is. But we continue to produce it and see it as ‘work’.
It is easier to measure the past, than to plan for the future. To analyse what is, not what could be. Data and reporting plays its part but in an age where every piece of software and service I belong to can produce reports the danger is being swamped by information that is best interesting and at worst, completely devoid of any insight. My HP printer can produce reports. But do I really need them? Of course not – it is just data fluff and nice graphs. In the late 1990’s the fashion of CRM grew to its zenith. Millions of dollars in software installed, teams and warehouses reorganised, sales teams re-trained, customer data loaded by the crate, reports produced by the dozen. And project teams stuffed with consultants. Information became even more frequent, weighty and complicated and the spiral of ‘complexity and paradox’ in trying to use data systems to improve customer service, seemed never ending. In the end, the real benefits from CRM were far, far less than the cost and resource applied in developing it and it became highly discredited. In being swamped by web data, analysis, dashboards and reflections of what has happned the danger is that the data feast becomes the new CRM. The new ‘busy fools’. Is it important to have thousands of followers on Twitter, growing week on week? Do we need daily and weekly statistics that show the same trend month or month? Or would it be more sensible to apply that resource to fixing the problem, not just reflect and repeat it? Great piece by Godin: Seth’s Blog Important/Measured.