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Running a Data-Driven Company: Guest post by David White

‘I firmly believe that data-driven decision making is the only way to run a company. It allows us to make fast, smart decisions and stay on top of our market.’ - David White, Founder and CEO, import.io

In its purest form, import.io is a data company. We spend all day helping people find ways to access data from the web because we believe that data-driven decision making is key for success in any industry. We also eat our own dog food. Meaning we drive our own company decisions through data.

ignacio_importio Ignacio Elola, Data Scientist, is crunching the numbers daily.

What we use data for

Understanding the market
A thorough understanding of your market is key for any successful business. By constantly measuring our user acquisition and site conversion rates, we can respond quickly to any changes we make that cause an increase or decrease in conversion. To help us do this, we run a lot of A/B tests on our website and PPC campaigns. The data we collect from these tests gives us a good understanding of what key words and phrases most resonate with our market. We also monitor social data on our target market to see what topics and features they are most interested in.

Understanding the product
To build a truly useful product you need a lot of data about how your tool is being used. The success rate of our users is very important to us. In order to help them become more successful, we need to know exactly where they are getting stuck or confused. This information allows us to change and improve the workflow to make the experience more intuitive for the user.

From a more technical perspective, we also measure how the platform is performing. Things like response time, query volume, API publish success rate and load balancing; all help us to create a reliable and stable platform that can scale.

Understanding the team
The final way we use data is as indication of our progress as a team. We believe in complete transparency across the company and so we use data to let others know how individual departments are progressing against their targets. Metrics such as the number of open support tickets, number of bugs to be fixed and the sales revenue all help us to make sure that we are on the right track as a company and that no one department starts to fall behind.

ben_importio Ben Brignell, Creative Director, designs by numbers.

How we use data

One of the most important things about being a data-driven company is that everyone, from management to marketing, has access to it. Each department within the company (Marketing, Development, Support) has their own Geckoboard with a rotating dashboard of relevant metrics. These dashboards are accessible to everyone through a link as well as posted on two large television screens in the office.

In general, we use two different types of measurements. The first are the more general metrics which are measured on a weekly or monthly cycle. These figures are about spotting trends and investigating causes. The second are the at-a-glance daily figures. It’s important for us to see how the activity for the day feeds into the trends for the month. These metrics allow us to see the early warning signs of problems and spot outliers.

This combination of dashboarding and detailed data analysis means that we are always on top of what’s going on at importio. I firmly believe that data-driven decision making is the only way to run a company. It allows us to make fast, smart decisions and stay on top of our market.


About David White
Following a number of successful years at EDS, David White was tempted by the freedom of contracting and consulted for several of the FTSE 100 companies including Glaxo Smith Kline. David then made the move into financial services taking on the role of Head of Technology Relationship Management for RBS Corporate Banking & Financial Markets. His promotion to the Head of Innovation Technology led to collaboration with Andrew Fogg. Together with programming guru Matthew Painter, they founded Kusiri before their next enterprise, import.io. Together they’re on a mission to structure the web and make web data available to everyone.

Follow David on Twitter.

david_importio