Metrics, measures and trends, oh my!

The Information Age is overwhelming for many. Even the most learned technical minds profess to getting blown away by the sheer enormity of the impacts of data and the possibilities to harness its powers for good or evil. So many questions are raised. What data do we collect? What do we protect? What can we realistically use today versus what is useful to build over time?

The perfect answer is to say that your organisation has a mature practice and discipline in creating an atomic layer of well-structured relational data catalogued in facts and dimensions, normalised and linked to hierarchical and reference tables that inform a schema capable of generating hundreds of measures and metrics at the click of a button.. that sounds exciting doesn’t it? Does it? What does that actually mean? For the most part – nothing. It’s not relevant, it’s not helpful and it doesn’t help organisations shift the needle on their data strategy.

To break it down, there are three key questions every organisation needs to ask and a very simple approach to getting answers and building a rich data asset:

1. What data do I need to capture in order to deliver the proposition to my customers?

1. Relationship data.

  • 1.1. Name
  • 1.2. Member Number (Unique ID)
  • 1.3. Contact details
  • 1.4. Demographics
  • 1.5. Segment/Sector

2. Membership offering

  • 2.1. Industry interests and objectives of members
  • 2.2. Member Interactions with the organisation
  • 2.3. Event attendance and demand

3. Industry/Sector trends

  • 3.1. Industry changes or Benchmarking

2. What data should I collect to help the organisation grow?

1. Number of industry participants

  • 1.1. Growth sectors
  • 1.2. Opportunity’s (Relational data for non member sector participants)

2. Associations impact on the sector

  • 2.1. Readership or reach
  • 2.2. Qualitative industry outcomes achieved

3. What does measurable success look like?

1. Determine KPI’s the organisation wants to measure.

  • 1.1. Income over time, per member, by segment
  • 1.2. Increasing Membership numbers over time in the sectors that grow
  • 1.3. Community impact (reach) relative to a plan
  • 1.4. Engagement (event attendance and measures of providing member value
  • 1.5. Industry/Sector performance and organisation influence

These measures by design are the foundation of your organisations offering. They demonstrate what the organisation has the ability to achieve and creates a fact base to tell that story over time.

  • Data related to sector impacts and reach informs the marketing approach the organisation takes to grow.
  • Data on trends and growth areas informs the business strategy to achieve objectives.
  • Data on members and their utility indicators informs operational delivery and engagement as a measure of success for members

Organisations don’t need to boil the ocean. All you need is a methodical approach to collecting relevant information over a period of time and organising it with reuse in mind. All of the above can be stored in an excel spreadsheet at low cost but it is important to recognise that as you grow, robustness of your data solution needs to grow with you and the more you capture, the more you can measure which means you can create more value over time.

Now, what is a metric, measure or a dimension?

Metrics are just data points. Membership revenue might be a metric. Membership numbers might be a metric. Time is a dimension. Calculating membership revenue growth as a percentage year on year is a measure.. see, not so scary. But you cannot calculate growth without these elements organised well and what is scary is how many associations fail to get the basics right.

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