Time to look at data beyond reports
There’s a common misconception in many of the companies I work with that information technology (IT) is fundamentally separate from the business. No matter how much a company invests in its core IT infrastructure – the same infrastructure that keeps the organisation in business – IT is relegated to the middle or back-end of a strategy session.
The chief technology officer (CTO) can scream and shout and complain that IT should sit on the same side of the business coin, but they’ll always hit what I call the ‘Iceberg of Ignorance’ when it comes to making their voices heard. I mean, when was the last time you read about any facet of a company’s IT strategy anywhere near the front pages of its business strategy?
Isn’t it time that in our data driven, smartphone driven, mobile app driven business world that we stop pretending IT is a ‘core asset’ and realise it’s the very wheels that move the business?
But I digress. Consider that, in a typical organisation, data is captured at the point of sale, stored under lock-and-key in expensively-assembled servers, and then reported on by the finance department to upper management. An oversimplification, yes, but you get the idea.
This is just the tip of the Iceberg. If the valuable data you’re generating at every single touch point in your business isn’t being used to inform every other touch point to trigger innovation across your organisation, then your business may already be the Titanic sailing full steam ahead.
Imagine if your point of sale staff could track their commission in real time? (hint: they can, it’s not difficult to implement). The resulting creativity and productivity gains from this simple motivational change alone could be just the driver your business needs to get to the next level.
Once you steer clear of the Iceberg, the possibilities are endless. For example, you could allow for direct feedback (constructive and destructive) from the whole human resources value chain to sweep through your business, which incidentally is one of the surest ways to constructively build a more proactive and transparent business culture. It’s all possible if you connect the right sources of information to the right people at the right time instead of keeping them all in check and hiding them in management reports.
Liberating your IT infrastructure by using it to its full potential (think analytics, business innovation labs and business intelligence) is the first meaningful step to outpacing your competition and winning a competitive edge for your business.
Because let’s face it, most of your competition is happy with traditional, and even if they know the iceberg is there, they’re going to keep on hitting it. Ignorance, as the saying goes, is bliss.