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Why I ditched my Fitbit and what this means for analytics

Andy Cotgreave | July 28, 2015
When I got a Fitbit 18 months ago, it was amazing.

2.   Provide access to data sources, not finished dashboards

Let's face it: It's not possible to build one dashboard that fits everyone's needs. Why not focus instead on tightly governed data sources? Provide people with some dashboards and encourage them to build, then save, their own. Imagine if I could tweak Fitbit's dashboard to focus on the activities that I want, just the way I want? Incidentally, Fitbit doesn't allow you access to your own data unless you're a premium customer. This doubles down on the problem: People aren't engaged or empowered when data is inaccessible.

3.   Change the data being collected as requirements change

I'm done with counting steps. Thanks to Fitbit, I know exactly what a typical day looks like. Next I need a tracker to measure standing/sitting patterns. I accept that this is hard for Fitbit to do, but even if the dashboard could evolve, there's also a data problem. Customer needs don't stand still for Fitbit, and they don't stand for still other businesses, either. The data you collect needs to evolve with your business or your customers.

When businesses adopt these approaches, they see success. Matt Francis, who is responsible for analytics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, says that "low dashboard usage typically signals a need for change. Sometimes they are for projects that are wound up. Other times requirements have changed so we work with people to refresh them. This way we ensure dashboards on our systems are giving users answers they need."

I can't evolve my Fitbit dashboards. I can't get at the underlying data in order to explore it myself. I'm stuck with what Fitbit created: a dead-end dashboard. Don't let the people in your organization feel the same way about your dashboards they use in your business. Whether you're analyzing wearables or widgets, steps or sales, you need flexibility and freedom in order to keep the dashboards alive and useful.


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