Organisational Agility Blog 5: Data and Technology – it's not just what you do, it's the way that you do it

We have talked previously in this series about the importance of continually reviewing whether your current plans are working, the need to regularly update your knowledge of your markets and customers, and always improving your delivery of customer (or shareholder) value. That’s all easier said than done of course. But you have two strong allies in your attempts to grow with agility. Data and Technology.

The former can help you continually check you are doing the right things. The latter can help you do the right things the right way.

Utilising Data

With 1.145 trillion MB of data created on the internet every day, it can be a scary place to navigate. That takes ‘Big Data’ to a whole new level. However, most of us don’t need ‘big data’. Most of us need ‘wee data’. Smaller amounts of easily digestible data that tells us something quickly at a point in time to help us make informed and quick decisions.

Many of us go through that monthly cycle of dissatisfaction when presented with reports with lots of data and information that we don’t fully understand, or even if we do it doesn’t quite answer the ‘so what’ question.

If you want to grow with agility, it’s worth thinking about the following:

· Point your data capture activity at a small amount of data that will give you most insight into the performance of your business or investment. This will of course depend on the focus of your strategy at a point in time. Beyond the obvious revenue, costs, profit; you might think about things like sales conversion, acquisition conversion, customer acquisition rates, customer satisfaction.

· Visualisation – this is particularly helpful when you do need to convert from ‘big data’ to ‘wee data’. A [moving] picture tells a thousand words. Here’s an example of you are ever interested in the average day of an American.

· Don’t let data tell the only story – by solely relying on data you may be missing an opportunity or making a bad decision. A sales manager sends two of her salespeople to explore the market for shoes in a deep Amazonian forest. One returned saying ‘no-one wears shoes there, there is no market opportunity for us. The other returned and said ‘no-one wears shoes there, there is a massive market opportunity for us’.

Utilising Technology

There’s not much more to be said about the use of technology is supporting agility. We have all evidenced it throughout the pandemic. Technology can do anything you want it to do. However, there are three considerations we come across frequently:

· Just because you can doesn’t mean you should – there is a regular flow of new technology solutions or digital approaches coming onto the market. Just because it’s ‘cool’ or ‘sexy’ doesn’t mean it will add value to your business. Really challenge yourself to the problem this new ‘thing’ will solve.

· Don’t assume it’s just for large business – there are some technologies that are normally associated with big business, but can you help you stay small and act big. For example, easier application of automation can help smaller businesses compete with the bigger ones.

· Skills – I hear too many examples of iPads sitting in school cupboards because they were bought for use in the classroom, but teachers weren’t equipped to use them. If you want to get the value from your technology you need people to know how to use it.

If you have any questions regarding the topics in this blog, please contact Mark Bell.

You can read the next blog in the series here

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