posted 25 Jan 2011 in Volume 14 Issue 4
Organisations are spending too much time searching through worthless information, says Bernard Marr
Today’s most successful companies are ‘intelligent companies’. Such organisations bring together and align knowledge management (KM) with other functions, such as enterprise performance management, business intelligence, analytics, management reporting and strategic decision making – to generate real competitive advantage. They continuously collect and use the best available data to inform evidence-based decision making.
This makes a lot of sense, as each of these functions manages data and information with the ultimate aim of improving company intelligence and performance. Organisations like Google, Tesco, or eBay understand that there is only one reason why they are collecting, storing or reporting anything: to perform better.
However, as information and data volumes grow at explosive rates, many companies struggle to manage their knowledge assets and they end up drowning in data, while thirsting for insights. Extensive research by the Advanced Performance Institute has identified a number of essential steps to becoming a more intelligent company.
First, is identifying and agreeing your actual information needs. Too many companies are happily collecting and storing any data they can get their hands on. Instead, the key aim should be the creation of the smallest data repository possible, which helps you and your executives answer your most important questions. Companies need to define what it is they really need to know to improve decision making and performance. They can not afford to collect and store data because it might come in handy one day. Even if storage seems cheap, the problem is that any additional data will clog up your system, which in turn makes it increasingly hard to find the mission-critical bits of information.
Let me take you back to the 19th century for a quick analogy. Think of the
Despite the rhetoric about the importance of fact-based decision making and evidence-based management, few organisations are deploying practical and reliable processes for unearthing those mission-critical insights.
Research into the working practices of most organisations and their managers confirms that the ‘gold prospector’ analogy holds true. Business leaders are simply expected to pan masses of essentially worthless information, with the hope that somehow they will discover those golden nuggets that will provide relevant insights.
KM has an important role to play in the corporate endeavour to become more intelligent. I have just completed work on a large project, where we created an integrated strategy bringing together corporate performance management, business intelligence, analytics, KM and data warehousing into one function. As part of this, we have created an integrated team, headed by the chief intelligence officer (who reports directly to the CEO), that brings together the various data and analytics functions of the firm into one powerful business unit.
Successfully integrating the various data and information functions is fundamental to becoming a truly intelligent company. So, if you want to unlock the full potential of your data and make KM more relevant in today’s challenging business context then start merging these functions to create an intelligence centre that enables your company to be more intelligent and successful.
Bernard Marr is a global thought leader and author of The Intelligent Company: Five Steps to Success with Evidence-based Management (see review on page 8). He can be contacted at email@example.com