There is a lot of talk today about data-driven organizations, and for good reason. I’ve personally seen how merging internal insights and external data with decision-making processes can improve business performance on multiple occasions.
For example, a leading construction materials company leveraged such insights to open communications and provide fact-based guidance between sales and leadership teams, achieving a year-over-year sales increase of 26%. In another example, a quick-serve restaurant client significantly reduced costs from a 20% reduction in forecast error. This reduction saved several millions of dollars in extraneous supplies each year and reduces over-staffing costs. Other companies are experiencing better stocked shelves and the ability to make more strategic (and profitable) decisions on when to enter and exit markets.
However, achieving these results requires a new, more collaborative and more strategic relationship between CEOs and CIOs. Having served in both leadership and technical roles, I’ve identified some ways that executives in these positions can forge more fruitful relationships to take advantage of the power of analytics.
Focus on the business problem, not the technical solution. CEOs are looking for answers and solutions – not details on how you arrived at them or what systems and processes were necessary to get there. The CEOs I work with, including myself, are constantly being pressed by investors, board members and other executive team members on our forecasts, results and strategic plans. Identify opportunities to leverage technology to help provide more accurate and timely insight to support these forecasts, and you will be a better partner to the CEO.
Skip the jargon and talk in business terms. While CIOs certainly need to be skilled at the technical details of data, integration and analytics, they must be equally skilled at removing these aspects when discussing analysis. Focusing on the insights – not the data itself – transforms IT from a technical provider into an information advisor.
Ask the right questions.The most important question I ever asked of leadership was “What are we missing in the information we’re providing you?” The answer I received completely transformed the way I perceived the value of our IT and reporting systems. I realized the information we were providing in our business intelligence solution was not what was needed for leadership.