This is the latest in our series of featured business dashboards, which highlights the interesting and different ways our customers are using Geckoboard. We hope that you will be inspired to try new ways of using your board, visualising your data and designing your dashboards.
Our latest featured business dashboard is that of Analytics SEO, a rapidly growing software company based in the UK.
We spoke to Mark Bennett, CTO, about the challenges of choosing the right metrics and building a culture around real time data. The team at Analytics SEO is doing an incredible job at understanding how to leverage data driven decision-making.
How are you using Geckoboard?
Mark: “We have been using Geckoboard for about a year now... we are displaying Geckoboard on one big screen in the office and we are planning to add a couple of screens with more dashboards”
What was the initial reaction of your team after the status board was placed in the office for everybody to see?
Mark: “We had two real objectives when we started using Geckoboard. The first one was to be able to see how the platform was performing and whether we have problems or not. The second was to improve the product. For example, when we first implemented it we were quite a long way away from where we wanted to be from the user perspective so we deliberately created a chart that had quite ambitious performance goals on it. One of the key charts shows the average time taken to upload pages on the site, broken down into various different sections of the site. We show that as percentages - what percentage of pages loaded under half a second are in green, but if they are taking more then it shows in red. At the time that we launched most of our pages were coming in at around 4 seconds, so our chart looked pretty bad. All red! But by starting out with that ambitious target it has driven us collectively to find ways of improving the performance. Now it is mostly green. It is not just about the operational monitoring, but also about driving improvement to the product and in a way that is very visible to everybody. It's not just visible to the development team but also the sales and marketing teams. They can now see how things have improved over time.”
How do you think Geckoboard has helped you to improve decision-making throughout the business?
Mark: “At the moment, it is driving operational decisions. We use it to monitor load on the server so we know when it is time to upgrade or add new servers to the cluster. We also use it to monitor our job scheduling, so if all of a sudden some of our jobs start running very slowly, then we see the scheduling going from green to red and that is very helpful.”
How do you go about choosing the right metrics to display on Geckoboard?
Mark: “It is very hard and we found that so far it is the hardest part of building these dashboards. First it is about working out what is important to measure and secondly how you actually measure that. A lot of the things that we are measuring are actually aggregates of quite a lot of information. Going back to the performance chart, where we were logging every page load and looking at the average time and improving it in different buckets, it was quite hard to come up with a chart that would give you that high level view. The question is: Is the performance generally okay, or is it not? This is all that we need Geckoboard to display. We can then go into the details and identify problems at a more granular level. You always need to start with the question, what decision is this dashboard supposed to help you with?”
What would your advice be to other start-ups and large organizations that haven’t started using this kind of technology to improve their decision-making?
Mark: “I think the best advice I can give is to keep focused on the decisions that you are trying to make. It is quite easy to build dashboards that will show the data that is easy to display, but that don't necessarily help you to make any decisions. The most important thing is to talk to the people that are making decisions in the business. Ask them what decisions they struggle to make at the moment and how you could make it easier if they had more data. If you start with these questions it becomes easier to know which data you need to collect and how”.
At Geckoboard we believe in making data visible and approachable. We have a fast growing list of third-party integrations that you can use to immediately access and start leveraging data in your organisation. Simply put, identify your key metrics and let us do the rest.
Thanks again to Mark and the team for such great insights. We would love to hear your stories, too. Let us know if you would like to be featured on this blog.
About Analytics SEO
Analytics SEO is a cloud-based Search Engine Optimization platform designed for both SEO agencies and internal marketing teams, operating from the UK. It's USPs include effortless SEO campaign management across large volumes of websites, fully automated customisable reporting, multi-lingual support, re-brandable lead generation tools, white labelling and a set of APIs for partnering with yellow pages, media owners and website platform publishers to re-sell simple SEO solutions to SMEs.