Suspend reality for a minute and imagine you have enough skills to captain a supertanker. Someone offers you a $1 million bonus if you reach a difficult-to-access port, but there are a few catches:
- The navigation system is broken, so you must pilot by maps, sight and gut.
- You can’t access an up-to-date forecast, only one from a month ago.
- A few icebergs have been spotted in the route, but the only report you have is from 1 week ago.
Considering the consequences of a mistake, would you take the job?
When quick responses are impossible
You’d have to be irrational to take on this mission. After all, even if you’re an amazing captain, the odds are stacked against you since it can take the better part of a mile to turn a big ship, and several miles to stop.
In some ways, steering your business without the right data at the right time is just as tricky and risky. After all, to effectively guide your business through shifting marketplaces and reach goals, people need to be able to see what’s happening now—and respond accordingly. The more momentum builds in the wrong direction, the harder it is to recover.
But businesses get thrown off course all the time. In fact, respondents to an Aberdeen Group survey said their number one challenge with respect to planning and execution is “rapidly-changing market conditions that force organizations to dynamically account for change.”
The problem usually boils down to a lack of timely data and communication.
What’s happening right now?
In most businesses today, data shortage is rarely an issue. From a multitude of spreadsheets to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, to customer relationship management (CRM) and industry-specific systems, such as a manufacturing execution system (MES), businesses are swamped with data.
What’s becoming increasingly critical to competitiveness in tight and volatile marketplaces, however, is the ability to use incoming data almost immediately to keep goals on track, respond to issues and make confident decisions. Yet we work with all kinds of companies who struggle with managing their data and where pulling and reporting on data is a time-consuming ordeal.
How quickly can your teams at different levels of the organization consolidate and analyze key performance indicators and other data, and make corrections based on what they’re seeing? If the answer is days, that’s good but still may be slow compared to top performers. If it’s weeks or months, then improvements could have significant implications on your business flexibility and boosting the bottom line.
Ultimately, what’s needed is a centralized repository and portal that provides a single source of up-to-date information for what’s happening in the business. Something that helps everyone from executives to front-line managers act at the right time to avoid the business equivalent of ice burgs and looming storms.
Plotting a better route forward
Industry leaders understand their ongoing success not only hinges on plotting clear goals and a path forward, but also on this idea of centralized management of goals and daily activities. That is why they are:
- 35% more likely to have a centralized repository of management directives
- 90% more likely to have a centralized repository of financial and operational performance data
- 1x as likely to be able to connect and analyze financial and operational data
- 51% more likely to be able to track performance against plans
- 24% more likely to be able to reforecast as market conditions change
In other words, they understand the importance of having the ability to quickly steer the “ship” to operational excellence, and they are centralizing data accordingly.
TBM recently hosted a joint webinar with the Aberdeen Group2 where we discussed how data integration and a centralized dashboard that allows you to understand the whole—near real time—story of what’s happening in your business can transform the way you pursue goals on a day-to-day basis. You can watch a replay of the webinar here.
In my next post, I’ll go into more specific details around how data integration services address common disconnects between what people are aware of versus what’s actually happening. And we’ll explore how Dploy Solutions can provide the centralized business management capabilities and data visualization you need in a single system for a clear view into the state of your business now.
 Execute Against Long-Term Strategy by Understanding Where You Miss in the Short Term, Aberdeen Group, February 2017.
 Creating a Portal for Business Planning and Execution, Aberdeen Group, February 2017.