A Business Technology Place

What we can learn from carrier pigeons tweeting the score

This morning I was reading a few pages in the Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James. The book is full of baseball history “stuff”. The interesting find today was a story about using carrier pigeons to deliver baseball scores across Philadelphia in 1883. The account reads that zookeeper Jim Murray sent carrier pigeons with scores back to his fellow workers at the zoo after each half inning. Can you imagine a dude showing up at the ticket gate with a cage full of pigeons? Apparently the idea caught on and other fans requested to get on the message distribution (the first twitter follower?).

Carrier, or homing, pigeons had long since been used to deliver messages.  Their use in times of war is documented on many occasions. However, the use at an athletic event to deliver scores had me thinking about how we send business messages with performance metrics today.

twitter bird to carry messages

twitter bird to carry messages

Today we have stock tickers, sports tickers, web sites with score, and in-game tweets for message delivery. These are used for global message broadcast and don’t require a subscription. They are fast and provide up-to-the second updates.

But how can we better deliver business messages with performance metrics inside our company message systems? Today most key performance indicators are put in a spreadsheet and emailed or crafted to fit in a Power Point presentation and reviewed in a meeting. Would decision makers would benefit from having performance metrics available to them on regular intervals like the carrier pigeons used for baseball game scores? Absolutely. IT staffs do this today for monitoring the health of the systems that support the business. If a metric falls out of an expected range then the on-call person is alerted via page and/or email.

To do this for business metrics would require that the message be simple and in a format easily understood by the recipient. The carrier pigeon exampled worked well because they followed that principal. This is also a primary reason that Twitter is successful today. It forces the sender to keep their message simple and on point. More detailed reports could be sent via detailed spreadsheets, discussed in committees, or reviewed online. The format and delivery of the message should be determined by the primary device used by the decision maker (mobile device, browser, email client) Here are a few ideas about how to use short messages to send key business metrics or KPIs.

  • Use your web analytics tool to auto-generate a report with specific performance metrics and email it to the decision makers. For example: hourly orders, daily conversion rates, hourly email opens for email campaigns, etc.
  • Set the browser home page for decision makers as an internal dashboard showing the latest performance metrics. This requires the use of some software for displaying the metrics. It could be a web analytics tool, data warehouse tool, or custom programmed interface.
  • If the decision maker uses a mobile device as their primary means for business messages then use the text message feature to send performance metrics. Most analytics and reporting tools have an automated email function and all messaging services have an email address that converts to a text message. Yes, you could just as easily send the message as an email.  I like the text message option because it forces the sender to keep the message short and on point.
  • Setup a protected twitter account to publish information and links. I like this idea because it gets decision makers onto a platform that they can use to read other messaging about their business and industry.

Do you have automated messages sending key performance indicators to your decision makers on regular intervals? What type of messaging frame work do you use? Have you thought of using tweeting business messages to internal recipients?