Data is incredibly powerful. Over the last few years, organizations have started to talk about data as one of their key assets. Some think of it as their most valuable asset. For many online platforms, data is their only product. 

In theory, organizations use data to make better decisions. Data can tell you who your best customers are, which products make the most sense for the market, what time of day is best to send your email. 

There is a point, though, where you risk information overload. As we work with companies to understand data, there's a moment where team members see what's possible with data and they start coming up with a million things to measure. "What if we started measuring X ..." type questions lead to dashboards with so many dials, that it's hard to focus. It's hard to tell what's important and what to leave alone. 

Are You Measuring Too Much?

I like to take a contrarian position on data and urge organizations to distill your dashboards and reporting down to the most meaningful number. How do you know if a number is meaningful? If you could take only these numbers to a desert island, would these be enough?

  • Can I take this number and make a change to a process or strategy and measure the effects?
  • Is this number the key driver of the effect I want? Or is a trailing indicator or an side effect?
  • Does this number help me paint a truthful picture of the situation the business is in?

Since it's so easy to create dashboards, too often managers start pulling the kitchen sink into them. If you find yourself asking, "wouldn't it be cool if?" The answer might be, "no."

If you have a "desert island" set of numbers, leave them below in the comments. 

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