By now, if you've ready the blog regularly, you know that I've got an opinion on just about every facet of business - especially where productivity and innovation are concerned. But the area that consistently amazes me is how little information we actually have.
After years of "investments" in information technology - and believe me, I was out there implementing ERP and CRM - we don't really know that much more about our business. Sure, we cut purchase orders more quickly, and we have a database of all of our customers...somewhere. But what does all this data actually do for me when I need to make decisions? Nothing.
Most of the "investment" in information technology has been in transactional systems. ERP, CRM, Supply Chain and other enterprise systems that have been the focus of IT professionals over the last ten years automated a lot of business processes. In that sense, they've been great for speeding up how we do things. But they came with a down side. These systems generate millions and millions of records every day. There's gold in that data - but how do you find it?
Today we are faced with lots and lots of data - but little information. What we need are some simple metrics (or key performance indicators) about the areas of our business we want to measure and manage. There is a significant amount of buzz around executive dashboards. These solutions have the right idea - putting key metrics on one or two screens for senior management to review and to use to make decisions. But why just senior management? Hasn't everyone in the business become a decision maker? And - what information is important? Who does the analysis of the information? What's the best way to present the data?
Productive and innovative firms are designing dashboards specific to their end users' needs, which delivers information in a manner that is intutive and can be used to make decisions. This information is interactive - users can "drill down" to get more details and make more informed decisions.