4 Metrics IT Should Measure

Metrics are all the buzz today – even in IT. People want to see the hard numbers and the impact their decisions have on the rest of the company. For IT professionals, if you want to boost the success of your department, you need to consider what metrics could work in your favor. But first, what actually determines the success of IT?

CIO explains the five key areas that determine IT success are:

  • Operational excellence: Running productive systems.
  • Solution delivery excellence: Delivery new or better functionality.
  • Organizational excellence: Having an engaged workforce.
  • Financial excellence: Keeping costs in line.
  • Transformational excellence: Leveraging the capabilities of new technology.

IT metricsNow, metrics play an integral role in maintaining this road to IT excellence. So what metrics does your department need to measure? Here are our top three:

1. Average time spent on critical/high-support issues

It’s important to know how long your people are working on these escalated issues. This way, you’ll begin recognizing patterns to know much much time and resources to devote to continual problems or certain projects.

2. Training

If you run a big staff or are based out of multiple locations, you’ll want to keep track of just how much time you’re devoting to training your people. Are there better ways to handle this training, from adding headcount to providing tools even like Lynda training now on LinkedIn.

Similar, how much time is spent training individuals from the IT Support Center is important to know. There may be more efficient ways to handle training, from conducting actual user training that all employees have to take to introducing a better ticketing system.

3. Measurements of usage

While this one might seem more obvious, you do want to ensure you’re tracking what you’re customers are doing. If you’re a software company, how many times people are using the systems and when they’re using them. If you’re not a software company, things like purchasing or even general website usage will help. This even means social media channels. There are listening opportunities to see whether people have positive or negative comments using Mention and other tools. This even includes usability with tools like UserTesting.com.

Knowing what your customers are using, when they’re using it and how they’re using it as well as what they’re saying will help your company, no matter what, improve.

As part of usage, there’s satisfaction. For Support Centers, receiving positive or negative feedback may inform how you handle things and what new procedures you introduce.

4. System up-time

If you notice recurring outages, it’s probably a no-brainer: something’s wrong. But it’s not just outages but up-time that people care about. This gives a more accurate view into the health of your overall data center, website and systems your company maintains including software.

Trends

Overtime, this information will provide insight into trends, which point to problems and opportunities. For example, if customer usage is lowest on Sunday night — that might be a good time to conduct maintenance. If system up-time always dips at midnight, maybe there’s a rogue task running that’s sucking up system resources that could be killed.

Also even though customer data is useful, different people want different things. Reports should meet the needs of the people requesting them. For example, marketing professionals care about conversions on the website and whether that’s due to organic or paid traffic. They need one set of information. On the website, your Web team will want to know uptime and general performance. That’s another set of metrics. Sales may want to see how many people are hitting the “Contact Us” page and how many people are requesting demos … from the website. That’s yet another.

Need ideas on better communication on how to collect those metrics?

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Your CSR Should Match Your Brand

Your corporate social responsibility (CSR) is more than a piece of paper or an annual holiday drive – it’s an extension of your brand. These efforts can range from giving small donations to a charity to implementing environmentally friendly practices organization-wide.

Therefore, what cause you choose to support or work toward will have a direct effect on your brand presence and respectability.

Why is CSR so important?

A solid CSR strategy allows companies to improve their public image, increase their media coverage, boost employee engagement levels and retain and attract key investors. It also enables businesses to attract and retain employees. After all, Millennials are known to care about community involvement efforts and Gen X are the most likely to become involved.

The community benefits, too. Nonprofits can receive increased funding, in-kind donations (equipment, swag, etc.), more volunteers, a strong corporate partnership and varied sources of revenue.

How can your CSR match your brand?

Choosing the right CSR program is crucial for its success. Instead of randomly picking an organization or cause, or many organizations and causes, pick the ones that clearly align with your organization’s goals, vision and future.

CSROne way to ensure that the CSR matches your brand is making sure it has a logical tie to your business operations. For example, a software company may choose to support education, including girls in STEM programs. A legal firm could align with free or low-cost law services provided by nonprofits.

Another way to match your CSR with your brand is to get your employees involved. Hold Q&As and issue company-wide surveys to discover what charities and causes your employees believe are important. This way, you’ll be matching your CSR not only with your brand, but the employees your brand represents.

Matching brands improves giving

With one-off donations and drives, there’s less of a relationship between company and nonprofit. To the nonprofit, employees there are worried about whether its a one-time gift or recurring one. Because they may not be prepared for the gift again the next year, it’s less successful.

Partnerships where brands match (nonprofit and business) mean there’s already more common ground and a higher likelihood that giving will repeat. That repeat donation (time and/or money) creates a bigger impact because the nonprofit is more apt to serve more people with their mission.

Improve your social responsibility

Time magazine called companies that ignore their social responsibility “suicidal.”

You could argue community involvement makes a company more successful through all of the items above — recruiting, retention, PR and visibility, tax deductions, etc. It could lead to even more business; people want to purchase from companies who believe what they believe. This includes the company’s CSR.

And at its core, businesses should give back because it’s the right thing to do.

Why UX Should Talk With Others More

Shouldn’t the user experience … be about the user’s actual experience? A study published in the Oxford Journal Interacting With Computers, find that a UX designer’s goal is to “improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.” However, sometimes user experience (UX) designers tend to get wrapped up in the design itself, without trying to think like the potential users.

That’s where empathy pays off as a designer and just about any other job, really.

This is why we feel that UX team members should talk with and workshop their features with consumers more frequently to become better designers.

What about “don’t listen to anyone”?

Maybe some designers think that other people’s opinions will negatively influence the process, but they’re mavericks. Feedback is always good, whether you take it or ignore it.

customer marketingCustomers can provide insight into the things they’re using daily that aren’t working. Potential buyers can be “fresh eyes,” people who’ve never seen your product and can provide unbiased opinions. Partner can provide insight into what their clients are saying … without filters.

When marketing professionals think about brand and rebranding, they meet with a variety of people — employees, partners, customers and prospects. They understand the brand experience to all parties with the nuances each person has and then take that information to cement or alter the brand (the heart of it or the reflection of it).

UX testing and listening should include that same group: employees, partners, customers and potential customers.

Employees

Your customer service team will know the biggest issues. They work day-in and day-out with people, helping with the same obstacles over and over. They’ll know your biggest pain points. Sales and account managers might too. As they demo things and explain features, chances are good they’ll run into obstacles with the customer or potential customer. They’ll provide good insight, too.

Customers, potential customers and partners

Yes, users can be finicky and unsure about what they really want, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak with them about their various preferences and ideas. No, they are not designers, which is why you should take these opinions with a grain of salt. Weigh ideas and judge them against good design practices. For example, if someone’s complaining that something’s not easy to use, but their suggestion for fixing it doesn’t seem like the best option then ignore the suggestion. While ignoring the suggestion, think about what made something difficult to use and determine ways to make it easier.

You can’t do your job well without listening to customers, but we would just like to urge to to start listening smarter, rather than not at all.

Cast a wide net

Listening to more than a few users (customers) and prospects will give you trends. The trends are the things to worry most about. For example if you asked 20 people to complete a task and 15 couldn’t using your software, there may be an issue.

Diversity in testing can only help. Of course there’s a target who you’re aiming for, but ideally your software will be easy for anyone to use. Don’t eliminate people based on age, for example.

As part of the testing plans, you can ask for age and computer experience — including in the industry or job you think is your target audience.

Be unbiased or get someone who is

ux should listen moreTesting plans can be difficult. You have to be sure not to lead the person. Also, you’ll have biases on what you think works well and what doesn’t. It takes a special person to rise above them and keep an open mind. If you’re mind’s not open to new thinking, even if it’s different than your own, you’ll have difficulty listening.

Many times, having a neutral UX person assigned to the project will help. They won’t have preconceptions about the product and may have better judgement about real issues and trends. They also may be able to provide guidance on solutions, based on feedback, because they’re a fresh set of eyes themsevles.

Listen before designing

The cyclical process of a UX designer’s work life consists of creating prototypes, testing them out, getting feedback and going back to improve or tailor those features. Instead, we would suggest that you first observe, research and investigate your consumers’ activities, motivations and goals. Then, tailor your designs toward that particular audience.

When you test your features on a control group of consumers, don’t listen to their predictions or suggestions. Instead, focus on the pain points brought up by multiple individuals. This way, you can move past feeling overwhelmed at the numerous, conflicting opinions and get to the heart of the matter.

When you listen smarter, you design smarter.

More ideas on listening

Check out how to engage in active listening.

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The Digital Buyer’s Journey

digital buyer's journeyYou want to take your consumers on a journey if you want to create a customer base, even a loyal one. Most experts define the buyer’s journey as a three-step funnel. According to Hubspot, these are the three areas of a buyer’s journey that conform to awareness, consideration and buying (and retention, once they’re a customer with the potential to upsell or cross-sell).

Three areas of the buyer’s journey

  • Top of funnel or awareness: The very top of the funnel is the awareness stage where consumers simply want to become educated about a company’s product or service by seeking answers, research, opinions, data and insight.
  • Middle of funnel or research / consideration: This is the evaluation stage where consumers are really researching and weighing the pros and cons about whether or not your goods or services will be right for them.
  • Bottom of funnel or buying: This is the purchase stage where consumers are completing the funnel process and making an order.

Digital marketing

So how does this relate to digital marketing? Well digital marketing is the overarching term to describe the marketing of products or services online or over another digital medium. For example, websites, blogs, landing pages, webinars, social media, PPC (pay per click) — these are all considered digital marketing. Typically how they’re divided up among team members depends on the organization.

Essentially, anything from an online advertisement to a thought-leadership blog article qualify as digital marketing. To create a digital marketing journey for your company, you must condense this process down into three key terms: attracting, retargeting and converting.

Attracting: To attract potential customers in today’s market, one effective and low-cost way is over social media channels. Use your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms to draw in interested consumers.

Retargeting: Now that you have potential customers interested, you will want to keep them on your site. Use Google Analytics and other metrics to determine what your average visitor looks like online and use surveys to determine what are the demographics and preferences of your ideal consumer.

Converting: Just having numerous visitors to your website isn’t enough. You want to convert these casual visitors into hard sales. Make it easy and accessible for them to buy your products and services and even offer promotional deals to get consumers hooked on your offerings.

Hosting informative webinars is another way to inform interested consumers about your company’s mission and offers. They can be used from everything from awareness to buying and even retention.

Learn More About Webinars

Where’s My Smart Office?

Dan Cunningham by day is the CTO for ReadyTalk. By night, he’s a hobbyist who focuses on home automation (smart home). He provides some ideas on why it’s important as well as some easy ways, using openHAB, on how he can automate lights and more for the home on a local network. In fact, he goes through an example of developing in order to turn on a light bulb.

Why a smart home or smart office?

There are a number of reasons why it’s good to have a smart home office and even work office.

  • Reduce environmental impact. Why run air conditioning and lights when no one is around?
  • Improve security.
  • Increase convenience. If you’re in a room and it’s dark, the lights should be on without flicking a switch. Just like if you’re near your computer, it should boot up.
  • Improve productivity. Automation, like lights turning on and computers booting up, keeps us focused on work.

Why can’t we have smart offices at work?

Dan lists a few reasons. The construction companies that create buildings don’t necessarily build for developers (the engineering and IT kind) and don’t want to build smart into their buildings because of cost. There also could be some safety issues, like meeting city fire codes and preventing “hacks” into the office.