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Boring but Powerful: Making Use of Configuration Data

When we talk product, we’re talking IT products which mean software – on some level. If you are in the software business you have configuration data. You must – or your developers wouldn’t know what was happening – or not happening in the case of dealing with bugs and transactions. (By “transactions” I mean bits of data were moving from place to place, not necessarily money changing hands).

Chances are you are not using your configuration data to its full potential.

It’s just churning away in the background amassing; just waiting for someone to realize it’s immense value and a reason for being. This existential reality of mounting volumes of data can find a reason for being in understanding your users, their habits, and what they are NOT doing – (that you thought they would).

Making use of this trove can be complex but there are a few things you can do to get started:

1) What is in the data?

Get an audit, and inveentory. All of it. Develop a data catalog so you can come back to it. These are all dots that can be connected – they’ll tell you stuff you never thought you’d need to know.

2) What is not in the data?

As important as what IS there – is what is not there. Its a harder question. Once you look at what you do have think hard about what you aren’t seeing. That will give you some calrity around what you might want to add or the questions you’ve got off the top of your head.

3) What is the best way to display the data?

Pictures? Emoticons? Graphs? Numbers? What is the best way to express a trend? What is the best way to express volumen? Comparisons? What is going to speak to whom? Have these things in mind so you can be honest about your intentions and get more out of the data.

4) If you could ask four questions of the data what would they be?

Start your internal conversation with “wouldn’t be nice if …” or “I’d love to be able to see …” without regard to what’s possible and what isn’t. It might be something like “I’d love to be able to read the minds of my prospects” … start there and drill down. Start with four questions and drill them down into data-related outcomes.

By starting with these 4 “simple” questions, you can start to organize and test the data you collect and in so doing also start to interrogate its use.

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