The topic for November’s installation of Webolutions’ Executive Roundtable series was Using Data to Drive Organizational Success. Interest led to enough participants to fill two roundtables, which provided an interesting dichotomy of conversation paths, observations, and takeaways.

“I never met a spreadsheet I didn’t like.”

Leading and Lagging Key Performance Indicators (KPI) were a principal topic for each group. As expected, most executives stated their goals included decreasing Cost Per Acquisition (CPA – the cost required to acquire a new customer); increasing aggregate client / customer satisfaction; increasing client referrals and retention, and reducing customer attrition; and maximizing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

“Data is a huge problem for my business.”

More than one attending executive voiced deep concern over “paralysis by analysis,” a lack of confidence time and effort is spent on the right metrics, the capability of people and tools to deliver accurate metrics, and the ability to significantly impact metrics identified as meaningful.

“Big Data,” a sexy item for seminars and blog posts circa 2012, was clearly identified as an enemy. The challenge has moved away from a desire to collect and understand as much data as possible. Efforts now are spent on an ongoing basis to block out or filter the enormous amount of information flowing into and throughout companies and organizations.

One suggestion, gaining affirmative responses, was that every business or organization should “stick to the key data,” and choose a maximum of five KPIs to measure.

“We don’t track Key Performance Indicators.”

One attendee, serving in an executive marketing role at a well-established company, offered that because they grew almost exclusively by referral, that they did not measure KPIs at all.

Another representative of a global software provider identified all marketing data as “noise,” and offered that as he managed his large direct sales force and reseller channel, the only metric on which he could earnestly focus is sales quota.

Others, including a representative of an engineering firm that produces equipment known globally for delivering data accurate enough to shame a sniper and a software provider maximizing law enforcement efficiency, noted their certainty that good systems produce reliable, actionable metrics.

“Employees impact customer satisfaction.”

Increasingly, executives are concerned that when data commands the fore, they miss focusing on the most crucial aspect of any organization’s success—its people.

What started as a discussion on leading and lagging KPIs, velocity through pipelines and impact to the bottom line, ended with sincere reflection on how well we are doing bringing the entire employee base into the vision and mission, communicating company values and how they manifest in daily activities including and especially dealing with customers, demonstrating appreciation for their commitment.

“The most important KPI,” it was offered, “is probably employee satisfaction.”

Is there a more reliable indicator for company success and profitability than the confidence, commitment, and happiness of the people who power it every day?

Our attending executives believe there is not.

What KPIs are you tracking today?

About Webolutions Executive Roundtable

Every other month, executives and leaders from the Denver area converge for a lunch and roundtable discussion on relevant business topics at the Webolutions office. These engaging meetings provides an opportunity for our local experts to network and develop innovative solutions around common struggles. Interested in attending a future Webolutions Executive Roundtable? Email [email protected] with your information.