Your users, employees, consumers and donors are obsessed with data now. Are you helping them solve their knowledge problem?

Years ago, I had an automatic transmission car with a tachometer. Why I needed to know my RPMs when I couldn't do a thing about it is beyond me.

Pulse Yet useless data and hidden data continue to plague users. I have a Garmin 305 watch to track my bike workouts. It's just fine, except I hate it. I hate it because there are only two pieces of data I care about while I'm working out: how fast I'm going and what my heart rate is. My theory is that I can't do anything about time, but I can control effort, right?

Garmin puts my heartrate in 3 point type in the top right corner. It's unreadable by anyone old enough to be crazy to use one of these devices. And my speed? They convert miles per hour into some sort of runner's fraction that I still haven't figured out. Broken.

[I was wrong! It's not broken, the instructions are. My faithful readers have alerted me that I can fix the display, which I'm going to spend the next hour figuring out how to do. Sorry to offend the 305].

Acumen, on the other hand, has built a charity dashboard that lets them evaluate projects on cost-effectiveness across sectors. It's a marvel, and it completely changes the way you think about philanthropy.

Or consider the ambient dashboards that have been built in surprising ways. One company put pinwheels on a VPs desk. When sales went up, the pinwheels spun faster.

Just curious: what do you think would happen to energy consumption if every car registered in the US was required to have a digital mileage readout installed?

Building good dashboards isn't difficult, but it's an excellent marketing strategy. A few brainstorms:

  1. If you can add a digital dashboard to your service, do it.
  2. If you can make the dashboard public, it gets more powerful.
  3. Highlight data that changes behavior.
  4. Allow the user to highlight the information that matters to them.

I'm not focused on digital companies here. If you can add a dashboard to a payroll company or a sleep measurement device, you can add one just about anywhere.