Several years ago, I took part in a two-day workshop at Google Digital Academy.

The workshop was designed to show ‘how Google does things’ – from how they hire top talent, to how they support a culture of innovation.

One of the topics that most resonated with my fellow attendees was the idea of “open data”.

Open data is the principle that your company’s data should be made as accessible as possible to everyone who works there. And unless there is a specific reason for data being confidential (personal data for example), the default position should be that every member of the organization has access to everything.

A guest speaker explained how, even as an engineer in London, she had access to code and project data from every other team at Google, globally.

Silos – particularly data silos – can hold your business back. And Google had addressed this through a combination of openness, internal communications, technology and culture.

That’s great for Google… but what about us?

I still meet a lot of business owners who want their company to be more data-driven, but who don’t feel they’ve achieved this yet.

And in 2022, the idea of creating an open, curious, data-oriented culture is not new. So why are so many businesses still failing to realize their ambition?

In many cases, for small businesses at least, the issue is one of practicality, not aspiration.

In other words, you might share the ‘Google mindset’, but unless you also have access to Google’s budgets, infrastructure and talent pool, you are going to hit some barriers.

Four practical reasons your team don't have access to the data they need

  1. Licenses – in many cases, your business data is stored in various online tools like Salesforce, Zendesk or Mailchimp – products that charge based on the number of users or seats you need. No-one would argue with the idea of paying for your team members to use a tool they find valuable. But this also creates a situation where non-users, who don’t have a license, are not able to access useful data. At least not without asking somebody who does have a login. So in practice, the data stays siloed.
  2. People break stuff – some of the systems in which you store data are hard to set up and navigate. It’s not always possible to give people access to the data in these systems without also giving them edit-level access. And that creates the risk that people accidentally break your elegantly crafted campaigns and reports by clicking on the wrong thing. (A similar problem exists when your tools don’t allow you to isolate confidential or sensitive data. Meaning you can’t give people open access to the data they do need to see.)
  3. Skills – sometimes your most important data lives in specialist tools which are hard to use. Of course, it would be great if every member of your team had the skills to use every platform. But in reality, that’s just not practical. And this skills gap prevents useful data being accessed at the right time.
  4. Time – most of the time, people who work for small businesses and challenger brands are time-poor. And unless you are looking for the answer to a specific query, then you and your team probably don’t have the luxury of being able to spend hours sifting through data.

That means most internal systems for distributing data fail because they require users to go to the data. When in practice, if you are going to increase your team’s awareness of data, you need data to come to the users.

Why businesses use Geckoboard to create data-oriented cultures?

In practice, if businesses are going to break down their data silos, and increase their data-openness, they need a solution which:

  1. Surfaces data from sources which are otherwise hard to access
  2. Presents metrics in an intuitive, easy-to-understand way
  3. Sandboxes data so users can’t break reports or access sensitive information
  4. Displays metrics in the spaces team members use every day – whether that’s a physical space like an office, or a virtual space like a Slack channel.

Some businesses try (and fail) to find a solution through manual reporting – a never ending series of slides, emails and spreadsheets.

Others use Geckoboard.

Geckoboard surfaces live data from tricky-to-access places

Geckoboard connects to over 90 data sources, including many data sources which are sometimes hard for the whole team to access. These include Zendesk, Google Analytics, Spreadsheets, Salesforce and Shopify.

Instead of needing to access these tools individually (which might involve many steps, or even some gatekeepers), your team members can just look at Geckoboard.

Build dashboards that are easy to understand

With Geckoboard, not only can you surface your most important metrics, you can also add important visual context like status indicators and goals.

That means you can present colleagues with clear, concise dashboards like this one:

Example of a Salesforce dashboard with status indicators and goals.
See more dashboard examples

Geckoboard prioritizes awareness and communication

The truth is, most of the business tools we use are laser-focused on the primary problem they solve. Whether that’s recording sales data, website analytics or facilitating customer support.

Their ability to do this well is the reason we use them (and are happy to pay for them).

The downside is that for many tools, the broader problem of company-wide data sharing remains an afterthought.

But for Geckoboard, it’s our number #1 priority.

And one of the reasons so many businesses use Geckoboard is because Geckoboard makes it easy to surface metrics in the places where people will see actually them.

That includes…

TV dashboards – if your team uses an office, what better way to make important metrics an unmissable part of your working environment, so they inform everyday conversations.

Woman looking at a TV dashboard
Geckoboard is perfectly optimized for TV display

User-level access – invite team members to view private dashboards, and even start building their own.

Sharing links – generate a permanent link to your live dashboard – so you can easily share via messenger, embed or bookmark.

Slack – automatically generate snapshots of your dashboard to Slack channels, so your team builds an awareness of important data over time.

Regular Slack updates build your team's awareness

Email – or you can automatically generate snapshots of your dashboard to email.

Try Geckoboard for free

Geckoboard is trusted by thousands of organizations who want to foster an open, data-driven culture.

If you’ve always wanted your team to have greater access to data, which can help them transform your business, why not try Geckoboard for free, today.