By Chris Abraham
Back in the 90s the world was all about dashboards. Remember PointCast? It used push technology to display news and information into a handy screensaver. I guess even today, OS X and others have widgets that can be combined into a de facto dashboard. In the real world, dashboards are essential. The Bloomberg Terminal is probably the most renown of all dashboards, allowing savvy brokers to keep steps ahead of the rabble. But, at $24,000-a-year, it’s surely out of reach of most folks. In my space, social media, we tend to use tools like HootSuite, SproutSocial, Oktopost, and even TweetDeck to try to try to keep up with what’s going on in social. Some people rely on SDL SM2, Radian6, Lithium, Sysomos, Spredfast, Converseon, Meltwater and others as ad hoc trackers.
Since running effective social media campaigns require serious work through a daily focused and dedicated approach, you might not find the time to get the job done right, especially if your business is small. It would be ideal to outsource social media management to a service provider like 99DollarSocial whose entire business model and offering is based on completely running your campaigns based on your specifications, directions and marketing goals. That way, you can focus on matters that require the careful attention of someone from the management team, and in my case, that’s me. When you’re the captain of your own ship, you need to make sure your help is resplendent with all the data you need to not only keep afloat but to reach your destination.
Unlike the Bloomberg Terminal’s obsession with recreating every service, product, and tool under the sun and placing it conveniently on one dedicated screen, most of the best online tools, resources, apps, services, and products are not only disparate and spread all over the Internet, they generally don’t communicate with each other. And that’s the thing: we’re all subscribed to a million services in order to make things work, but we’re often also relying on bookmarks, Evernote, or browser tabs and desktop shortcuts to keep track of morning update; or, we often subscribe to a third party tool that sends us email updates. And then there’s Cyfe.
I run my entire business on a 12.1” Lenovo ThinkPad x220, so my screen real estate isn’t awesome; however, I have really enjoyed working with Cyfe because it allows me to keep my essential services available to me in one convenient place: my browser-based Cyfe dashboard – no matter what machine I am on, be it at the office or at home, I can quickly log into my dashboard from anywhere that has a modern web browser. Even better, my single cyfe dashboard is optimized for both my desktop and all my sundry mobile devices (I have an iPad Air, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and an iPhone 5).
Any Infinity of Widgets
Salesforce, Google AdWords, MailChimp, Facebook, WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Google AdSense, GetResponse, PayPal, Google Alerts, Bitly, Google Analytics, Amazon Web Services (AWS), AddThis, GoToWebinar, Moz, Gmail, Desk.com, Basecamp, Pingdom, QuickBooks, Google Trends, AWeber, Eventbrite, Instagram, Google Webmaster, Google Calendar, Highrise, SlideShare, Flickr, Klout, Vimeo, SERPs, RSS, and other pre-populate the list of widgets that Cyfe has built in. And then there’s a toolkit to roll your own.
And, of course, the entire dashboard allows both drag-and-drop and shuffling. What I mean by shuffling is that you can crowd all of your widgets together so that you can either install all your favorite widgets onto one main dashboard or you can just optimize it so that only the numbers you care about are viewable. Alternatively, you can resize each widget to be smaller (for my 12.1” screen) or larger (for big monitors or to displace lots more information).
I used to be a Linux guy and love multiple desktops that the X Window System offers. Apple OS X has something similar, as I recall. Cyfe has multiple dashboards as well, allowing someone like me to have not just my current Main dashboard but I can have one called Gerris Social, on which I could collect all of my social media monitoring widgets. One could be Chris Social, where I could track my own immortality. I could have Gerris SEO. I could have client dash boards so I can track my client campaigns. I could have one called Gerris Business where I track how my business is doing and I could also create one called Gerris Sales where I keep track of how much coffee I deserve every morning (“Let’s talk about something important. Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for closers.“)
It Only Works If You Work It
As they say in recovery, “it works if you work it and work it ’cause you’re worth it.” I’d change it to “work it because it’s worth it.” But if you put it all together and then never go back, you’ll be wasting your time and money. So, remind yourself for a while to visit your Cyfe dashboard every day. Or, you can make Cyfe your default homepage for your IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Apple Safari browsers. I don’t see a Cyfe app on Android and I don’t think there’s one for iPhone either but Cyfe offers a really lovely gorgeous web interface for all my mobile devices – in fact, the rendering is so good that it feels like it’s an app after the awkwardness of signing in via the web page. So, it’s very convenient and easy to use, but you need to become used to using it and get away from your awful habit of ALT-Tabbing between all of the browser windows you keep up and active during the course of your work day.
Bigger Is Always Better With Cyfe
While Cyfe does make it easy to use via a mobile device and even via my executive notebook with its limited 12.1” screen, I bet you Cyfe enjoys stretching out its legs a little bit more. I am considering getting my next ThinkPad a dock and getting a high-end sweet 4K external monitor to make my computing experience much more brilliant and to give my Cyfe install a place to live all the time. So it’s always up there and so I can look at my top 20 favorite apps at any one time – all for $23,832 less annually than Mike’ Terminal. Yes, $14/month paid annually or $19/month, month-by-month.
And, even better, it’s free for up to five widgets. So, if you just want to track 5 things at once, you can run Cyfe for free forever, just like I am doing. Heck, I even need to add one more. But, with only 5 widgets, it won’t become the focus of my work day. In order to make it really work for me, I’ll need to upgrade. But, with 5 widgets, you can try all of them, one at a time, until you find the ones you really need and the ones that just don’t do it for you. And then you can use it until you hit your limit and then you can step boldly into Premium.
I am sure If you give Cyfe its due time and attention you’ll realize that it offers you a valuable insight into what’s going on right now on your websites, in your business, on the mediasphere, with your competitors, in the news, with the weather, and even really geeky things like how your sites are performing, what’s going on on your calendar, in your inbox, and with the holy trinity of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook (sorry Google+).
If you’re like me, I’ll go for weeks or months not checking in with my Google Webmaster account or what’s going on in Google Analytics. I almost never check in on what’s going on with my servers or how different properties are performing in Google or in general. I don’t spend enough time on Salesforce or on QuickBooks, and I am hoping above all hope that aggregating all of my services into a single dashboard is going to solve a lot of my blind spots when it comes to being the president and CEO of what’s currently a very small boutique agency. Cyfe might be able to help me keep all my balls in the air by keeping them all in one place. Let me know your experiences in the comments.