KPI-powered collaboration and the future of Productivity


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birds flying in formation

Much has been written recently about Slack, Yammer and other platforms aiming to take teamwork and collaboration away from email and meetings. These are essentially providing new avenues for the availability and exchange of information amongst peers.

Techniques for personal (individual) productivity proliferated well before that. From Zero Inbox to Priority Matrix, who has not tried a few things before?

Workflow and task-oriented collaboration systems have also been around for a while. It is now rare to find a corporate environment without a project management or agile/scrum solution (often taken far beyond its software development origins) such as Asana, Trello, Basecamp or Jira.

And there is even more: tools to capture and share random interactions or cluster “knowledge units” in a medium-independent manner (Evernote), task list management apps (Wunderlist,Omnifocus); group calendar apps, inbox “navigation” systems, various generations of groupware tools (remember Lotus Notes?)… all of them built in the name of productivity and time-efficiency.

But a crucial piece has been missing from this puzzle: How can we claim to be truly data-driven if these systems and methodologies, either personal or team-oriented, are not somehow connected to our business objectives and ongoing performance?

We have certainly seen plenty of techniques and ideas come and go over the years for the improvement of (mostly industrial) processes on the basis of data. And business objectives are undoubtedly behind the hypotheses or problems-to-be-solved that sustained optimization cycles such as Six Sigma’s DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control). But their impact on our overall productivity has taken place in a whole different dimension. One that does not properly take “people” into account because they preceded the information era, with the jobs it brought and the many levels of “democratization” it created.

It was on the basis of this new reality that Digital Insight Management was born back in 2012, within the framework of a hierarchy of scorecards and dashboards, aiming to both make data useful and help people better determine their own priorities.

Collaboration, productivity and workflow tools have evolved and exploded since then, and the principles of Insight Management have not lagged behind, having being applied in continually more dynamic and creative ways by all sorts of unrelated organizations and platforms.

The following are great examples of the exciting new era of Information Delivery and Performance Management we are entering. They all stem from the acceptance that productivity and collaboration thrive on highly interoperable open environments in which every single piece of software focuses on what it does best:

  • Bottom-up optimization (from data analysts to decision-makers) is now greatly facilitated by allowing Information Delivery tools -such as a Sweetspot dashboard- to embed storytelling features originating in other platforms
  • Top-down performance management is aided by “flagging” systems through which CMOs, CDOs or Analytics Managers can define the priorities of Analysts and operational teams
  • Events in external workflow platforms can trigger milestones in KPI historical trend lines, showing not only their impact on existing data, but also their potential influence on a given forecast
  • Executive dashboarding apps can send KPI status updates (on performance against goals or over time) to collaborative platforms (such as a Slack channel) and workflow environments.

Of course, this is only the beginning. What can stop Sweetspot (or any other great executive dashboard) from automating the delivery of basic insights through collaborative and team communication channels once KPIs are properly tied to the objectives defined for those channels?

Exciting times.

Are you enabling Insight Management through other platforms or in other layers of your Marketing Data Technology stack?


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Sergio Maldonado

Founder & Chairman at Sweetspot. Author, speaker on analytics, marketing technology, privacy compliance. JD, LLM (Internet law). Once a dually-admitted lawyer. Father of three. I love surfing and cooking.

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