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.
We had the pleasure to talk to Mike Kelleher, Business Analytics Manager at TokBox.com. Mike’s insights on how a data driven culture is built in startups and large organizations, were extremely interesting.
Here are some excerpts of our conversation.
How did you find out about Geckoboard?
Mike: “I learned of Geckoboard through Andrew Dudum, one of our product managers at TokBox. He had seen a large-screen display with business metrics visualized at another startup. Our product team is very data driven, so they were very excited at the prospect of having a continuous feed of information about our products and services. Andrew signed up for the free trial with Geckoboard, gave me the credentials. As the analytics guy providing all the numbers to the company, I was tasked with creating some visualizations to syndicate to the rest of the organization. I started by building one page with our top-level business metrics that were automatically updated once per day. Since then, I have added over 150 widgets to our Geckoboard and started building dashboards for other business units.
Whenever there is a business question about how OpenTok, our video streaming API, is performing from an operational, marketing, or business perspective, I automate the data processing and add more widgets to Geckoboard. If a question is worth answering once, it is worth taking the modest amount of additional time to make sure it is answered every day. Forever."
What was the initial reaction of your team after the status board was placed in the office for everybody to see?
Mike: “Over 70,000 people have implemented OpenTok, which generates 60 million rows of data per day. That volume of data is very hard for non-analysts to comprehend, let alone access! I’ve been providing visualizations on an ad-hoc basis using Excel and email to syndicate visualizations, so the TokBox team is very comfortable consuming visualized data. Geckoboard has taken the team’s data consumption to the next level by making our visualization more attractive, affordable, automated, and most importantly, real-time."
How do you think Geckoboard has helped you to improve decision-making throughout the business?
Mike: “Monitoring our developers and users every day is especially valuable for the TokBox product and business development teams. It’s crucial that our engineers can quickly see changes to the quality of our video service in the hours and days after we update our client or server components. Beyond just monitoring our service, data visualization is great for spotting opportunities for growth or service improvements. Visualizing acquisition funnels allows us to evaluate the impact of changes to our website and continually ensure that the changes are making more developers successful. Our product and design teams can therefore concentrate on getting more people to use our service, instead of trying to figure out how to get access to the data.
Another area where visualization has been impactful is load balancing throughout our cloud media servers. With the help of Geckoboard’s mapping widgets, we now have insight across our global network of data centers into how the quality and volume of video streams are changing. Another area where visualizations have helped decision making is in improving the load balancing throughout our cloud of media servers. We have a global network of data centers, and with Geckoboard’s mapping widgets, we can see every day how the quality and volume of video streams is changing. Lastly, I use our dashboard like a ship’s captain, making informed recommendations to “steer” traffic to the ideal data center. Before I implemented these global maps of service quality, we were essentially guessing the best traffic route."
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, or that are interested in leveraging their current efforts as a data-driven organisation?
Mike: “Most businesses, especially those with technology oriented concerns, espouse the value of being data driven. Developing a culture that can be data driven can be daunting, especially if the expectation is that there will be a monolithic solution delivered all at once. Our access to data has been incremental and organic. We take small steps and never give up ground. That’s why Geckoboard has been such a great tool for us. Andrew implemented a simple Average Time on Site for the last 30 days. Then I added a Geck-o-meter for total number of connections to our service. Then I started to add custom HighCharts widgets one at a time. If a company wants to be more data-driven in their decision-making, I recommend giving one person a mandate to start syndicating visualization of their data. Business managers are hungry for better visibility into their business metrics, but they don’t know how to automate that access. As I said before, the incremental time it takes to automate a single visualization, versus creating it ad hoc, is an investment with a robust payoff.
In October 2012, TokBox was acquired by Telefónica Digital, a subsidiary of Telefónica, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. With a commitment to data-driven decision-making, Telefónica Digital team members are diving head-first into developing an even more robust data culture with the help of Geckoboard.
I do have one key caveat to all my rave reviews of Geckoboard. Any visualization tool is like the finish carpentry in a house. The crown molding, wainscoting, and paint are the things that make a house look great, but no house can stand without a foundation and support beams. In data visualization, the foundation is the data logging and processing. The system we use at TokBox is based on excellent data architecture, a Big Data processing system, and a close relationship between managers, engineers and myself. Our communication is top-notch, so it is easy to understand the business needs and the data. When someone looks at our Geckoboard with all the graphics and charts, they can’t see the foundation, but it does give them a sense of how much access to data we have. It almost seems like magic.”
At Geckoboard we believe in making data visible and approachable. We count with a fast growing list of third-party integrations, that you can immediately access in order to start leveraging data visibility in your organization. Simply put, identify your key metrics and let us do the rest. It was a great experience talking to Mike at Tokbox. We would love to hear your stories too. Let us know if you would like to be featured on this blog.
TokBox, a Telefónica Digital company, develops and operates the OpenTok Video Platform, enabling the addition of live group video communications into online and mobile websites, apps and services. The scalable, customizable platform gives users the creative freedom to develop any video interaction; from one-to-one chats to large-scale broadcasts. The first platform to incorporate support for WebRTC, OpenTok caters to enterprises, entrepreneurs and developers with scalable APIs and apps.
OpenTok has been used to add video communications to more than 70,000 services by companies including Major League Baseball, Diet Coke, Ford, Doritos, Bridgestone and Double Robotics.
TokBox is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.