We are told that business leaders can make better decisions with technology solutions. We are told that big data and technology enables managers to analyze the data and improve business performance. But there remains a gap.
All too often management assumes that investing in technology solutions and granting access to almost unlimited data by managers will ensure good decisions, but that reality has not proven true in many cases.
Why? And what needs to be done?
First, all managers are not the same. Some will take blindly analyzed data and make decisions without regard to overall management strategies or competitive dynamics in the market. Other managers will be granted access to more precise data and still make decisions based on their gut regardless of the answers derived from analysis.
Finally, there are managers who have the capacity to balance their strategic judgments, analytical assessments and feedback from others to make truly informed decisions. These are the managers every company wants but studies suggest that only about 50% of managers fit this profile.
Training is a critical element of overall success. Too many executive teams are putting their investments into data analytics at risk when they assume all that is necessary is to hire a couple of data/tech experts who know how to use the technology solution and somehow distribute the learning down through all levels of management with a few training workshops.
Seeing the analytics machinery in action doesn’t necessarily mean that individual managers can think through all steps needed to make an informed decision and change their behavior in the process.
Each manager must be trained not just how to use the technology but how to begin thinking about the data, and learning the creative process of drilling down into the data to get the real answers needed to drive consistent results that are aligned with the overall strategy of the organization.
Beyond just the development of dependable managerial skills, the company must utilize a technology platform that can deliver a consistent and coherent view of all the data. The data needs to be clean, the measures and calculations must be consistent across all organizational levels. There needs to be a common tech platform that has the features and capabilities to handle all transactional details and deliver all inquiries in seconds, not minutes or days.
When the initial training is completed, managers need on-going training in real day to day circumstances to enhance their analytical skills, creativity and insight in getting to the root cause of day to day in-market results.
The tech experts engaged to deliver the technology solutions and initial training need to possess more than high-level tech skills, if possible. Operating the technology is just one dimension of success. A better outcome is possible when they at least understand basic business management as well as the industry in which the technology operates.
The overall goal must be to not just implement the right technology solutions but to train and illustrate to users how to engage the technology solution to improve judgement and understanding of market dynamics and drive measurable results. That takes time.
When the right technology solution, coupled with training and skills development for all managers are brought together properly, the outcome is an empowered management team prepared to make better fact-based decisions. Thus, resulting in more consistent achievement of business objectives set by the executive team.
An empowered management team is fully prepared to make decisions that can be measured and tracked. They are prepared to be accountable for their decisions and expect to be compensated for delivering positive outcomes. This result is a true performance management culture.