Executive Briefings

Opinion: The Urgency of Better Strategic Insights

A dashboard from a 1980s or 1990s economy sedan in a modern hybrid sports car would catch your attention for all kinds of aesthetic and technical reasons.

The incongruity of the dashboard and the rest of the car are easy to imagine, as are the potential issues with the setup. Sure, you could get the speedometer and odometer to work. But invaluable features like driver assist and navigation would be unavailable, so you would never be able to operate the car to its full potential.

Making an equivalent comparison with complex manufacturing operations isn’t so straightforward, but even in 2017 many manufacturers are using “old-school” tools to guide what needs to be increasingly fast-paced and dynamic operations. Consider that nearly half (49 percent) of respondents to an Aberdeen survey rated responding to market volatility as their top challenge. Yet many companies still rely on disparate systems and spreadsheets for tracking near-term performance and making strategic decisions. That means their data is often incomplete or outdated, or both, which can result in missing near-term opportunities for performance improvements, and misguided strategic planning and decision-making.

Adjust Your Perspective to See Important Patterns

The ability to see your data from different perspectives is invaluable under any circumstances, but especially in the face of rapid marketplace evolution. Just consider how once-strong retail brands such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Radio Shack and Sears are struggling to survive against relative upstarts and new business models. How might their strategies have changed if they had started looking at and responding to the right indicators much earlier?

On the other end of the spectrum, manufacturers in safe positions, but without strong enough lenses into their data, may be unaware of all kinds of opportunities for generating new growth or improving performance and profitability. That’s unfortunate because a delay in capturing opportunity is opportunity lost — and it provides an inroad to potential upstart competitors. And that’s why, regardless of current marketplace circumstances or position, it pays to make better use of data sooner rather than later.

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The incongruity of the dashboard and the rest of the car are easy to imagine, as are the potential issues with the setup. Sure, you could get the speedometer and odometer to work. But invaluable features like driver assist and navigation would be unavailable, so you would never be able to operate the car to its full potential.

Making an equivalent comparison with complex manufacturing operations isn’t so straightforward, but even in 2017 many manufacturers are using “old-school” tools to guide what needs to be increasingly fast-paced and dynamic operations. Consider that nearly half (49 percent) of respondents to an Aberdeen survey rated responding to market volatility as their top challenge. Yet many companies still rely on disparate systems and spreadsheets for tracking near-term performance and making strategic decisions. That means their data is often incomplete or outdated, or both, which can result in missing near-term opportunities for performance improvements, and misguided strategic planning and decision-making.

Adjust Your Perspective to See Important Patterns

The ability to see your data from different perspectives is invaluable under any circumstances, but especially in the face of rapid marketplace evolution. Just consider how once-strong retail brands such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Radio Shack and Sears are struggling to survive against relative upstarts and new business models. How might their strategies have changed if they had started looking at and responding to the right indicators much earlier?

On the other end of the spectrum, manufacturers in safe positions, but without strong enough lenses into their data, may be unaware of all kinds of opportunities for generating new growth or improving performance and profitability. That’s unfortunate because a delay in capturing opportunity is opportunity lost — and it provides an inroad to potential upstart competitors. And that’s why, regardless of current marketplace circumstances or position, it pays to make better use of data sooner rather than later.

Read Full Article