Small and midsize business managers have to balance it all: coming up with inspiring ideas, helming an overall vision for the company, and making tough decisions with as much credible input as possible. Advice and information comes from a cornucopia of sources, from your industry peers to water-cooler chatter.
Information – most of it conflicting – is coming at you from all sides about products, competitors, and customers. And every source touts its indubitable credibility. It begs the question: What source do you trust?
The answer, according to the recent Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) executive brief “Three Keys to Better Data-Driven Decisions,” is, well, all of them – assuming you have the technology in place to use individual reports, metrics, or other pieces of advice to give illustrate the big picture.
But is the right data in place? And – just as importantly – is it readily available? According to a 2010 Forbes survey of more than 200 businesses, 61% of respondents reported suffering from flawed information. Is your business part of that majority, losing out to competitors because of inconsistent data? The solution posed by TEC is to unlock data buried in spreadsheets in the computer system or “locked away until the moment is right for it to be accessed.”
High-quality data is not a secret weapon you use in a one-time battle – it’s an invaluable cohort that should be consulted on a daily basis. It’s detrimental to not act quickly enough on information that’s buried in a silo – but it’s even worse to unearth a crucial piece of information that could have prevented a poor business decision from being made.
Increased data visibility yields three significant benefits for SMEs:
1. Business activities aligned with overall corporate strategy: Consistent data helps you talk the talk and walk the walk – turning strategy into action with a business plan that can serve as an overall action plan rather than just lip service.
2. Optimal resource allocation: Who should manage that plum account? How many training sessions do your people need every year? Do expensive events generate justifiable revenue? Data provides answers that are never clouded by office politics or individual agendas.
3. Reduced effort for regulatory compliance: Reporting, auditing, and brand image weigh heavily on an SME – burying key workers under paper, while a large corporation might have an entire department devoted to the task. Capture and enforce compliance requirements within your IT infrastructure to track performance in real time and rapidly make adjustments.
With integrated enterprise software, data is visible and readily available at all times to everyone in the organization, opening up possibilities for greater collaboration. So when your out-of-the-box proposals start generating results, you’ll be handily rewarded with deserved kudos, while your data does the number crunching and continues to validate your actions.
To learn more, check out “Three Keys to Better Data-Driven Decisions.”