One word symbolizes downtowns – complexity. Downtowns are a symbiosis of differing needs and deliverables, encompassing different types of users, all with their individual demands very often across differing timescales: commercial businesses, retailers, public services, leisure venues, hospitality outlets, education, cultural attractions and residential; all of which function separately and together. Phew, what a blend! And usage and activity is continuous – no let up for vacations, public holidays and weekends – in fact over these critical periods downtowns become even more complex!
Inevitably, therefore, measuring downtown performance presents huge challenges – but it’s not for the lack of data. In a world where 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day (that is a number equal to 1 followed by 18 zeros for us non-mathematicians) it is the sheer mass of data – not the lack – that presents the problem: Which data? How frequently? When? By what means? All of these issues very quickly create massive hurdles to practitioners in terms of their effectiveness in measuring performance. But at Springboard we are huge proponents of the belief that data and performance measurement is (and should not be) difficult. In fact it is easy! I hear you say: easy? really? Yes, easy – but only if you follow some clear principles!
What we advocate, and in fact plead, for you not to do is to simply collect data because it is there - it is a very easy trap to fall in to. After all, paying for data – something we can’t actually feel and hold – is an anathema for many people. Not only can’t you demonstrate it easily (you can’t bring it out and present it to an audience in the way you can with a physical product) but demonstrating its value is even harder – it takes knowledge. So, if there is data “lying around” that is free the first inclination is to try to make it fit – many times I have heard practitioners say “Budgets are tight, let’s see what we have in-house”, and then they start on the road to nowhere – collecting data that has little or no meaning, purpose or value.
But in fact data has huge value – it is the evidence for you to demonstrate the value of what you do and can deliver a huge ROI – you only have to look at all of the store loyalty cards, Facebook and Google to understand the value placed on and derived from data. But this only holds true if the data that is used is appropriate, or what we at Springboard call “desirable”.
Understanding what is or is not desirable data is easy. There are eight key “desirability factors”, and if all are adhered to you will have data that is relevant, timely, meaningful and valuable. But do not despair if your data lacks one or more desirability factor - it does not mean that it should not be used, but auditing data using these factors provides a clear understanding of its constraints and limitations – and you can set targets and expectations accordingly.
So now you have evaluated your data, and have a clear idea of the evidence you have available, how do you monitor performance? Here once again, we can bust some myths, the most significant being that performance measurement is difficult – it is not! There are four simple key steps to effective performance monitoring and if you adhere to these you cannot go wrong. Join our IDA webinar to hear how.