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Dear Colleague,

At no other time in record history has the effects of change been so great that it puts at risk existing paradigms.  Methods, practices and even decisions that were once viewed as iron clad have been thrown into a state of undependability.  As C-Level Executives or people in service to strategic decision makers the need has never been greater for reliable and responsive analytics.  In looking at present practice it has become apparent that spot/ad hoc quick studies and benchmark performance comparison can no longer be solely depended upon.

Quick Status

Companies depend on data and the shear volume reflects what has now been called “Big Data”.  Big Data is the confluence of raw data coming from a variety of sources.  Cleansed and made ready for processing into assembled “Data” it becomes highly dependent upon filters of legitimacy.  If these filters are too fine they strand mountains of raw data and contributes to a lag in getting vital near to real-time information.  However if left virtually unchallenged it will contribute to information contamination.  I’m sure that some of you have heard of GIGO (garbage-in/garbage-out) and in the case of data control an imbalance results in only one thing… missed strategic opportunities.

As qualified processed data moves along the pipeline and becomes ‘information’ its first view can be seen in reports.  The reporting process becomes the view window into operational behavior.  While used to support basic business functions it’s real value has not been fully exposed.  Its only when brought together with expectations, known as KPIs that we start to see whether we are on track with expectations or not.  In the mix of KPI to information comparison we have the ability to cease the opportunity to take proactive measures that are totally within the grasp of the organization.  We are not looking at what others are doing per se but are looking at a reflection of ourselves in terms of what we have accomplished vs. what was expected.   Self-improvement or as some might call continual improvement is essential to achieve gains that are total within our internal grasp.  One must also understand that there are limits to optimization, over optimization can retard performance and thus create a new issue that must be dealt with.

Going beyond KPI/comparative control is measuring against the world we live in.  For some, this can simply be local competitive performance whereas to others it may be more about regional events, technology trends and even consumer behavior.  It requires a step beyond the comfort of our own operational understanding and reaches inside of the community to which we are a part.  Companies have a wide range of dealing with this watchdog element.  For many its done on a somewhat casual and certainly inconsistent, erratic, and unsystematic fashion.  While others attempt to put their hands around these aspects but doing so using humans and not technology to enable the endeavor.  Staffing changes, person dependent diligence and the lack of separation between collection and analysis makes the results somewhat ineffective.

KPO Dance

Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) is not a new thing.  It has however been slow in coming because of it being stuck at stage 2 (internal KPI monitoring and advisory).  To get to the next stage, intelligent analytics, requires the use of technology and the construction of global analytic indicators that are employed for gathering and analytics. This is not a simple task, nor is it one that can be relied upon if given to amateur professionals.  It requires, especially at the onset, the skills of those that;

  • Know the variety of external information sources (e.g. news sources, market information, trend data, …),
  • Understand the level of source reliability, timeliness and access means (e.g. automated and manual collection, hash tags, keywords, …),
  • Have the ability to conceptualize how strategic needs can be equated to analytic resources, and
  • Can innovate a framework that is both consistent/pragmatic as well as finely tuned to the needs of the client business.

One might ask why KPO has not advanced from, at best, their their middle stage position?  Largely the advancement has been hindered by labor arbitrage (cost) and talent pool (developing nations).  If you were to ask  yourself what is the value of this information many would relate it back to cost which is further hindered by a question of certainty.  Since many companies have only a vague value understanding about intelligent analytical information it then becomes overshadowed by risk uncertainty.  Maybe the more practical means to achieve an answer to the question is to measure the value of what your decision making abilities and with what level of risk.  While I have lots of respect for people willing to make decisions, I also have an equal level of disrespect when it comes to people making them with little, limited or no information.  In times past the stability of business and our world allowed us to craft our instinct and insight.  Today, the game plan has changed and there is nothing we can do about this condition except to operate from a basis of knowledge (aka intelligence).

What To Do????

We always have options.  All options are plausible but the come with conditions.  These conditions reflect what we are willing to accept based on risk.  Up to now many would have been satisfied with simple KPI enabled indicators.  The ‘intelligence’ vested with a person who is responsible to make decisions based on them.  Some go so far as making these decisions afford flexibility to changing conditions but fail to recognize that these situations produce opportunities as well as hazards.  Its best to leave the heavy lifting to pragmatic technology supported processes and relieve us of unintentional human error/intervention.   With the difficult work consistently applied decision makers can then focus on remedial adjustments, model improvements and strategic opportunity pursuits.

Of late I have had the opportunity to work with a well established company that started as a simple information technology outsource service provider.  In their initial days they provided help with reports that evolved into a business providing business intelligence.  At first I was skeptical because the term ‘business intelligence’ was thrown about but failed to contain much if any intelligence.  In the case of this service provider (Red Core Solutions – RCS), they were taking the fundamentals of report generation to the next level by embracing not only proactive KPI intelligence but also had made steps into the utilization of information from outside sources to create a powerful ‘Intelligent Analytic’ offering.  What is most interesting is that the framework is both pragmatic as well as adaptable, yet is not a commodity solution.  As we all know our businesses are unique and the needs varied with the challenge that what might have worked well for our competition is most likely not going to work for us.  Its for this reason that plug and play customization against the backdrop of a solid backplane produces highly reliable consistency.  It should also be noted that a leading issue with the use of technology in combination with highly important information, that is time sensitive, is reliability.  The need for exacting qualification is essential and if not carried out has the ever present potential for catastrophic decisions being made.

Reflected below is the RCS model for Intelligent/Smart Analytics.   For more information refer to their website at http://www.RedCoreSolutions.com .

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Stretch Your Imagination

Everyone believes in themselves when it comes to making decisions.  Some rely on instinct while others depend upon others to fuel support for them to make choices and set direction for the company.  Even the most experienced and successful leaders  have had both fame and failure.  Often this is at the hand of wrong decisions based on bad information and time driven urgency.  But we can also fail simply because we are limited in our abilities to imagine.  The box we have worked within for decades is no longer the same and in some ways we have not been able to liberate ourselves from the comfort that it has created.   “Green” thinking means that we need to clear the table and to recast the way we set direction while never forgetting the many varied journeys that we have taken.

Some of the possibilities (as a mere sample) where intelligent analytics can be invaluable include,

  • Hospitals:  Examining outpatient care within service area vs. service area exploited by other medical institutions,
  • Banks:       Measuring new product penetration against age groups and their social satisfaction,
  • Aviation:    Customer profiling as compared to age group and earning index,
  • Retail:        Revenue creation via location (mall vs. standalone) in comparison to sale vs. normal sales (incl. seasonal),
  • Manufacturing:   Product throughout and waste bi-production reselling vs. refactoring, and
  • Government:       Education – Cost increases vs. discipline results (student grades) and compared across institutional market
  • Pharma:      New product offering – clinical trials – success deliveries/failures – success ROI (compared to others in same drug classification)

These are but a few examples.  The possibilities are endless, the needs are immense, and the gains are beyond what many would view as attainable.  The choice is clearly up to you but beware.  Driving with vision impairments is an endangerment to your family and in this context your business/institutional family.