Analytics and the Nimble Corporation
Analytics technology will succeed in those firms that already listen to and respond to their market. It’s that simple.
The gulf between the nimble and ossifying companies will only widen as the more nimble firms will use new technologies better than their more rigid counterparts.
Great companies have employees (including top executives) that get out and play in traffic. For example, one big San Antonio, Texas firm used to send its most senior executives out to work in front-line roles in their restaurants for two weeks every year. These executives always came back with new operational insights and appreciation for what was really going on in the real world. No analytic application can replace firsthand experience. But, this firsthand experience can enrich/validate the insights that might appear in analytic data.
A nimble firm makes it easy to communicate with them. They encourage communication with everyone. They actually let their people from R&D, Procurement, Sales and other groups use social technologies. They collaborate with peers, suppliers and customers. Moreover, they are measured by how much influence they have within and outside the firm.
My experience suggests that the most nimble firms are often the ones with the most cosmopolitan and published talent. Show me a firm that won’t let its people speak at events, write a blog, be a source for an article, etc., and I’ll show you a rigid, ossifying firm. In contrast, the company that is willing to put its latest ideas, thoughts, experiments, etc. out in the open for the world to comment on is a nimble firm. It is this thick (not thin) skinned capability of the company that may give it its greatest success. A company that is timid, afraid to change or incapable of accepting feedback is going to fail.
A nimble firm experiments. Thomas Edison tried something like 6000 attempts at creating a long-lasting light bulb. Edison would have never been allowed 1% of those at most companies. A nimble firm can refine their analytics to isolate experimental results from those of other markets. The insights from these experiments will guide the eventual rollout of game-changing new solutions/processes/etc.
A nimble firm has many current hypotheses about the market. They use analytics to test, prove/disprove and refine these.
A nimble firm, and this is most important, can scale fast. When they see a new market opportunity, they test, refine and then use explosive energy to seize the awaiting market opportunity. These firms can exploit a new market opportunity with incredible speed and precision. They are not only capable of change, but, they can change their entire firm almost overnight.
Finally, the nimble corporation will use analytics to optimize everything: sales, operations, tax positions, pricing, facility utilization, staffing, etc. Each of these results will require changes to processes, controls, responsibilities and more.
I believe the best users of analytic technologies will therefore be companies that make a number of capabilities core competencies of their firm. They’ll need to be good at:
- Process re-design
- Competitive intelligence
- Risk Management
- And more
To look at analytics as simply another technology would be a mistake. The use of analytics may very well become a delineator between the successful firms of tomorrow and the failing firms of yesteryear.