Data Vs Data Points Vs Metrics Vs KPIs – These are some of the most commonly but interchangeably used terms in reporting and dashboarding projects. But the importance of drawing that thin line of difference becomes evident when you are working on these projects from the ground up.
Here is an attempt in the form of an infographic trying to draw that thin and blurring line of difference among these terms:
Data – any collection of observation can become data. e.g. Name = Bala, Role = Client Relationship Manager, etc.,
Data Points are specific values resulted out of any measurement and/or summarization without any meaningful context around it. e.g. Sales = US $10 M, Volume = 150 transactions processed, etc.,
Metrics are the result of contextual measurement and/or summarization of data points. e.g. John generated $10M per month, Abraham processed 150 transactions per day.
Note that oftentimes, arithmetic ratios are used to bring context to the measurement.
KPIs are the result of attaching metrics with goals / thresholds. It’s these attached targets/thresholds that indicate the performance. Hence the name Key Performance Indicator. e.g. Revenue generated by sales agents per month with a target of $200M.
Hope this brings some clarity to chaos in these commonly used words in self-service reporting and analytics.