The Lean Analytics Workshop by Geckoboard
A couple of weeks ago I attended a Lean Analytics Workshop put on by Geckoboard. It included a talk by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz who authored The Lean Analytics, a book that details how smart entrepreneurs use data to build better startups, faster. And it got me thinking about the way we measure data here at import.io.
There was a lot of talk at the conference about the “one metric that matters”. There is a tendency when looking at metrics to go out and measure everything you can get your hands on with the idea that more is more. More metrics must mean more insights. Right?
The truth is that it doesn’t. Often, more metrics just means more data. More data that you have to sift through and analyze and more noise you have to be able to filter in order to gain insight. In other words, more data that does not drive action. The best thing you can do is find the metric that is most important for your company – bearing in mind what stage you are at and what type of company you are – and just focus on that one. But focusing on just one thing can be scary. How do you know if you are measuring the right metric? Let alone the best one.
It’s important to understand that this metric doesn’t have to follow you to your grave. As you learn and grow as a company, the metrics you look at will grow and change as well. What it does mean is that at any one time there is one metric that should be the overall focus and it is essential that everyone associated with your organization understands what it is and why it is important.
So how do you decide? Croll and Yoskovitz have a bunch of tips and suggestions to help you think through the process (the links to which I have included at the bottom). My favorite tip by far is that whatever metric you choose should be “no more complicated than a golf handicap”. There is often the temptation with data to do a bunch of complicated modeling, but it’s the simple metrics that people can remember and discuss.
For us as an early stage startup that is trying to solve a complex problem, the only metric that truly matters is: are users able to do what we want them to do. Namely, are they able to use our system to get data?
People come to us because they want data, so naturally the key thing to measure is what percentage of them are successful in getting that data. From a usability point of view, this metric allows us to analyze if we have made the process simple enough that users can get through a very technical task. We measure this metric through our own platform supplemented by a tool called Woopra. And, through it, we are starting to see some interesting patterns that can help us to see where the flaws in our system are.
Finding the right metric is a critical component to any successful business, and it is especially critical when you are in the early stages of development. Watching how your users respond to changes in your product will give you the ultimate validation for what you are doing right and give you a way to respond quickly to things you are doing wrong.
by David White, CEO