Any business manager is only as good as the information at their fingertips. Being able to make good decisions depends on having sufficient and sufficiently current information to work with. You can be the best decision-maker in the world, but if you are not on top of your data your bottom line is never going to show it. In fact, it’s going to suggest all too loudly that something about your organization is not working properly. And if the buck stops at your door, that can be deeply damaging.
Increasingly, business managers are reliant on multiple streams of data – from different parts of the business that often frame, package and schedule their information updates in ways that are not immediately comparable. If your sales figures are calculated daily in dollars and your marketing is budgeted quarterly in euros getting the two to talk to each other can be a time consuming and needlessly expensive process. It doesn’t have to be like that. Good business in increasingly a matter of good business intelligence.
Those data issues scale up faster than any business can hope to grow. In fact an inverse relationship applies: the faster a business grows, the more inefficient movement of data around the organization is likely to impact that growth. It is not only poor data that produce poor decisions; slow data updates also severely restrict management effectiveness, ultimately strangling profitability.
Upscaling from Excel
Excel has itself revolutionised the way business intelligence is aggregated, but from an operational perspective its weakness is the way it presents different information streams in isolation. Too often, one aspect of organizational data is discretely kept at arms’ length from another. It can make it difficult to capture and communicate an accurate all-round picture of what is going on.
The solution has taken a while to develop, but increasingly companies such as Bilbeo Analytics are developing simple excel dashboard templates that will translate and collate the different Excel data streams within your organization and bring them together in a format that puts interpretation – rather than data storage and manipulation – at the top of the agenda.
If cutting out the middle man is one of the oldest business maxims in the book, the development of intelligent business dashboards are nothing new. They are a way to put real-time data directly in front of real life decision makers – cutting out the clunky, long winded business of trawling through pages and pages of Excel cells.
But in terms of the way they allow business managers to see a 360 degree, real time dashboard of their business activity such dashboards are revolutionising the way that commercial decisions are made. Trial and error no longer need to part of the story. Strategy is formed and recalibrated on the basis of hard data rather than simple intuition. With comprehensive, real time data feeding back continuously – just as a car or plane dashboard relays information to drivers and pilots – the potential for good decisions is massively enhanced – especially where multiple decision-makers are involved.
Only a fool would choose to run a car or a plane without a fuel gage. Why would anyone try to run a business on the same data-blind basis is an increasingly pertinent question.