How Much Information Do You Need Anyway?

If You Build It, Will They Come? At Microsoft's CEO Summit in May, the software giant's own CEO, Steve Ballmer, spoke passionately about the importance of having "digital dashboards": real-time desktop displays of key performance indicators (KPIs) that show critical business ratios such as profit per sales employee per week, customer satisfaction in dispute resolution and the status of outstanding issues with major suppliers. In other words, indicators that CEOs deem critical to running the business. CEOs who really want to take advantage of digital technologies, Ballmer declared, should have their IT folks build them KPI dashboards, empowering them to monitor what matters. On a more personal note, Ballmer observed, KPI tracking has been essential to his transition to chief executive of the world's most profitable software company. For example, Ballmer's KPIs now focus as much on internal "talent tracking" as sales. But Microsoft's CEO was apparently not preaching to the converted. The reception to KPI executive dashboards could best be described more as polite curiosity than genuine interest.

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