When I find a company that inspires me, I like to research their leadership team to see what drives them and learn how they built a successful business. One of the companies I admire is Wistia. They provide professional video hosting for organizations and individuals. Their tool offers premium video performance and host of display and analytics features. We are long-time Wistia users and fans. As I was reading about their leadership team today, I found a talk that Wistia's CTO and co-founder, Brendan Schwartz, gave on metrics earlier this year. There was one takeaway I wanted to share that is an operational metrics example anyone can learn from.
(Warning 1: There is a tiny bit of bad language in here, but it certainly isn't distracting nor does it take away from the quality of the presentation.)
(Warning 2: Brendan's talk gets quite technical. If you don't want to hear the nitty gritty details, I did my best to summarize in non-technical terms below).
OK, you have officially been warned :) Let's proceed...
As Wistia grew, Brendan and his support team were having a hard time getting to the root of most of their technical support issues. Users would report an issue, but then the support staff was unable to replicate the problem. It's like when you hear that funny noise coming from your car's engine, but when you take it to the mechanic, it mysteriously stops.
Without any knowledge of what was causing the problem, the support team had no ability to fix it. Issues can come along for a number of reasons. For example, was it a connection problem? An issue with a web browser? Or was something wrong with the individual's computer or device?
Brendan decided that the old go-to suggestions of "rebooting your computer" or "clear your browser cache" were not good enough to scale for their thousands of users, so he took action. His team created a simple two part system that collected and tracked every bit of their customers' video performance data. This means that now, when a user submits a support ticket, they can look at the specific video in question and see how it is playing on all browsers and devices. The development team can swiftly take action because they can see where the problems lie, and support response times are reduced.
Brendan emphasized the importance of owning your data and storing it forever.
Since Wistia collects their data in-house and stores it on their servers, they won't risk losing it. They can keep and control their data forever. Collecting years of customer data gives Wistia insight into where their problems lie and trends in customer behavior.
This is an example any company should follow.
I know what you might be thinking...
"This is great for Wistia, but it wouldn't apply to my [insert non-technical organization here]"
If that is what you're thinking, I have to politely disagree.
Any type of organization can benefit from using their aggregate data. Here are some examples:
- Farmers can compare and analyze harvest data for multiple years.
- Professional services firms can identify common client questions and create documentation or blog posts to answer them.
- Manufacturers can identify bottlenecks in their production processes.
These are just a few examples of how you can use your own data to make smarter business decisions. I'd love to hear your ideas too. Please share in the comments.