A look in, a look out
With our firm’s executive team and practice leads huddled around a massive table overlooking the infamous Wilson bridge from the Gaylord’s National Harbor hotel, we talked about sharing information “from the top” with all staff. From new videos on YouTube to daily tweets via Twitter, we’ve taken a number of steps to disseminate information. Interested in what we’re working on and thinking about? Our next CQ will have a nice new feel to it; of course, if you’d like to suggest what you’d like to read, add a comment below and we’ll see what we can do. Likewise, we’re just beginning to add content to a number of social media sites — some of which we list on the right of this blog — and we’re open to thoughts on where else we might be.
On a related note, I mentioned our executive team and practice group leads participating in our off-site meeting. We’ve been working hard to make changes to our website (www.computechinc.com), adding more content in some places, and cutting back in others. Take a look at what we’re working on, and spend a few minutes reading about our five key areas of expertise: data-driven dashboards, integrative management solutions (*previously called e-filing and licensing), online auctions, legacy modernization, and revenue-based collection systems.
Posted on Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 at 9:28 am and is filed under Collaboration.
Forest through the trees
Building off our last post; data indeed, is everywhere. The crazy thing? Data has been everywhere for quite some time! Previously, however, this data wasn’t quite as helpful. Why? We were facing more of a Data! Data! Everywhere! But not a drop to drink- type of situation. Key word? Drink. Allow me to explain.
As our President Larry Fitzpatrick describes in his “IT-Driven Transformation through Data-driven Dashboards” presentation at the Smith School of Business 10th Annual CIO Forum – a data-driven dashboard can be defined as an “application that allows the meaningful inspection of a complex system to support decision making.”
Chew on that for a second.
The part that is most exciting about the data droplets we have here, there, and everywhere is that we are finally at a time and place where we can actually make sense of what we have. Curious as to why we are at this time and place now? Listen to Larry’s explanation about Why Now – around minute 1:40 in his talk.
Formerly, data sets that were pretty much nonsensical – never moving past the “data” phase – have been transformed on sites such as Data.gov, IT Dashboard, or Recovery.gov to shed light on problems, successes, trends – in a way that is interpretable and that stimulates additional ideas and questions and answers.
Also consider the mashups that are being created practically every day making government and business more efficient and interesting. Apps for democracy was an unbelievable success. It delivered 4 winning applications in 30 days, yielding a 4000% ROI on effort back to the government.
We are now in a time and place to drink, consume, splice, and dice the data we have. We can now make sense of the nonsensical, bringing in the public, industry, and congress to weigh in. Our creativity can stretch as far as we’d like – seeing new answers to problems old or new – or simply a different perspective– because now, we have some pretty cool little applications to see the forest through the trees.
Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 3:05 pm and is filed under Data Driven Dashboards.
Data, data everywhere (and now a lot of drops to drink)
For all the mission-critical custom applications Computech has created for federal agencies, our recent efforts to help “open government” to the U.S. public has generated some of the most memorable buzz amongst our clients and staff. Now, it is no secret that data held throughout a federal agency cannot remain inaccessible. Indeed, we — like other IT firms supporting the U.S. government — are finding that the “citizen-as-consumer” has quickly raised the bar in terms of expectations placed on our federal clients to share “public” information. Likewise, with so many policy and strategic decisions being based on a complex mix of rational and intuitive thinking, we see data-driven dashboards as one IT-inspired application whose time has finally come.
Why do we think so positively about a tool whose power has been touted for more than 50 years and gone by different makes + models (business intelligence anyone?). Simple. Since President Obama came into office this January, we’ve seen a spike in demand for richer, more integrated online presentations that facilitate a true community dialog (for one example, take a peek at Broadband.gov). Concomitantly, we are finding that a number of agencies are collecting better and deeper information as a means to shape complex, initiative-focused projects as they unfold.
While we could cite a number of projects that our clients have successfully launched (*and plan to next week as a we dive a bit deeper into creating these powerful systems), perhaps the most talked about data-driven dashboard in D.C. right now is Data.gov. Created to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the federal government, Data.gov includes searchable data catalogs providing access to data in three ways: through a “raw” data catalog, a tool catalog and a geodata catalog. Pretty cool, right?
Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 8:41 am and is filed under Data Driven Dashboards.
Creating an “Addictive User Experience”
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes some social networking, or web 2.0 applications so pervasive - resulting in the “tectonic shift” we are undergoing. The applications we are talking about here are ones that you get a craving to check in with – and see what has happened in the last couple of days, hours, or sometimes, minutes. I hear often that these sites are not about the technology, but rather about something more underlying that shapes our relationship with them. Communication? Humans are innately wired to want and need to communicate. Community building? We want to affiliate ourselves with certain groups, causes; some wanting to lead, and some wanting to follow. In both of these cases, any innovation that makes these basic tendencies easier to do will most likely be game changers.
When I consider sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and consider what qualities these sites have that result in enough energy to shift the current placement of our (tectonic) plates, and push us into a new technological era, it becomes apparent that regardless of whether our need is to Communicate, or Community build, what really results in this kind of motion and transformation, is that these sites are tapping into some of our pretty basic and core needs, and that when given the opportunity, we are naturally energized to act upon these needs.
This past Friday, I was re-introduced to this concept I’ve been mulling over from a new angle. I attended Maryland’s Smith School of Business 10th Annual CIO Forum. A panel was held called “Business Models and Sector Transformation.” Of the speakers, Premal Shah, President of an organization called Kiva.org, a non-profit with the mission to “connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty” spoke about when creating a site with the goal of making a big splash, concentrate on creating an “addictive user experience.”
“Addictive user experience.”
When Premal put this phrase out there, my somewhat amorphous ponderings of what makes people come back to certain sites day after day suddenly took on a more understandable shape. I put myself in the shoes of any random Joe, with access to the internet, a little bit of disposable income, and a penchant for getting that “feel good” vibe when doing something for the sake of “doing good.” Now, with my “addictive user experience” spectacles on, I took a look at the site and noticed what attributes it had that could get me hooked.
1. Easy to contribute and low barrier of entry. Signing up is easy, and any lending amount is accepted. A participant doesn’t have to be Bill Gates to get involved.
2. Specific, recognized cause. A lender can choose a specific cause to get involved with that can be as personal or random as he likes.
3. Gratification through data feedback. Who doesn’t love feedback? The site tracks different pieces of data and reports it back to the lender.
4. Opportunity to be recognized. Most of us like to be recognized, especially for something that speaks well for our character. This site features lenders and entrepreneurs on the homepage with the info they choose to present.
5. Authentic, transparent, something to believe in. The site maintains authenticity and credibility and users can continue to participate knowing they are standing on solid ground.
This is all good stuff. Yet what is better, is the fact that there innumerable sites that can benefit from this type of productive platform and Kiva is proof that it can work. Extending this beyond non-profits looking to support a cause – to simply government agencies – we can observe that countless civilians making up the public have opinions, insight, and talent to contribute. And when a site is constructed with the administrator wearing the right spectacles – considering what will energize its audience and get it hooked, data-driven dashboards can symbiotically bring administrator and user together to benefit all.
Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2009 at 9:14 am and is filed under Data Driven Dashboards.
Data-driven dashboards (pre-conference intel.)
Can you have ”KEY TAKEAWAYS” before a presentation? If you read Concomitantly, the answer is a resounding YES. At tomorrow’s CIO Forum (hosted by the Robert H. Smith School of Business) you will hear some of our thoughts relative to “managing” data-driven dashboards. For example:
>Source operational data:
The source data must be a natural byproduct of an existing business process. If it’s not, change the business process to get it, don’t add extra reporting requirements.
>Keep focus on KPIs:
Concentrate on a few simple, readily computable key performance indicators that most directly measure what you want to influence or communicate.
The transparency achieved provides a stunning opportunity for behavior modification. But, don’t underestimate the effort required to institutionalize adoption, lest data quality suffer.
Interested in the context behind this advice? Not too late to sign up for tomorrow’s event. Or, follow Lauren Modeen via twitter (her feed or ours) + be sure to check out Concomitantly for new updates penned by our Marketing Manager extraordinary!
Posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2009 at 8:35 am and is filed under Data Driven Dashboards.