Executive management teams are commonly patting themselves on the back for implementing leading analytics solutions, used by managers to drive more consistent growth.
But if you ask a local manager the root cause for a sales decline, the response is often a blank stare.
Does the manager know the cause and doesn’t have the time to fix the problem? Doubtful!
Does the manager know the problem exists but can’t get to the root cause? Probable!
The reality for too many businesses today is to find a manager with a stack of nice reports on their desk that are seldom viewed even when an analytics tool exists. The core reason continues to be that the data outputs and KPI reports do not give managers the kind of information they need to make fact-based changes.
So, the reports are casually skimmed over and nothing happens.
Far too often even in today’s technology environment, business analytics offer nicely summarized or aggregated views of market dynamics.
Managers view these reports as nice but not actionable because with little time to do research, managers can’t access enough information to determine the root cause of any change in the market. Or they lack the authority to make the types of decisions needed to stop a sales decline. The root problem can be technical or organizational, or too often it is a combination of the two.
The executive team needs to answer a simple question as management reports are being prepared.
Exactly what information would a local manager need to identify the root cause of any real change in market conditions? Could it be a declining sales figure? A recent trade promotion or SKU discount?
And since no manager has the time to filter multiple pages of reports or useless data to find the essential factors driving the problem, the right business analytics solution for the organization must enable that deep dive by any manager in seconds to find the cause and make a change that can be tracked.
It is also critical to make sure the organization is not the roadblock to market insights. Organizations who spend more management time debating the data instead of enabling decisions are missing opportunities in the market place that can represent meaningful improvements in sales and profitability.
Quality organizations enable all levels of management to be their own analysts and find their own answers. This approach cultivates an environment of continuous improvement. This type of organization is where real management accountability and rewards for measurable results begins. Implementing a continuous improvement culture also enables all managers to productively prioritize their time and resources to drive results.
Another key factor is that the right business analytics solution is not a generic, one size fits all.
For a true continuous improvement culture to be sustainable the analytics solution must be customized, or organizationally aligned, to deliver the precise market data that each level of management needs to gain the root cause insights into all critical business activities and outputs related to their respective role.
When insights and actions lead to a rapid return and positive sales growth, for example, then make sure management compensation systems reward the individual managers driving those outcomes.
Business intelligence emerges as a distinct quality of an effective business culture. It is significantly more than just technology. It is a management philosophy enabled by the right solution, right communication, right organization structure, and right accountability and rewards.
When the business culture, organization, and technology solutions are in place and working together, it is possible to finally remove managerial ignorance.