Being future ready with smart effective decision making will be the defining characteristic of companies that thrive in 2021 and beyond. Decision making is dependent on many factors including context, information, risk and time. There’s a lot of research and information out there on these factors and decision making processes however we won’t touch on those in this article, rather, we will consider the role of information and how to make sure that the immense amounts of data being collected by organisations is relevant and useful for sound decision making.
In the digital age, experience is fast becoming the deliverable most sought after. Delivering strategies that drive better performance will improve an organisation’s competitiveness and sustainability. The allocation of resources to ensure these experiences are authentic and aligned with the organisation’s strategy will be essential and will be the province of smart decisions or what we are calling Decision Experience (DX).
Historically, at its simplest, the accounting function has been responsible for ensuring past transactions accurately describe the operations of the organisation and future projections are based on a reasonable, calculated view of the organisation’s ability to derive income and commit its resources. While these are still vital operations of an organisation, it’s understanding and identifying the information required to enable the business to be future ready that will drive smart decisions.
With global trends such as cheaper technology, 5G, smart phones, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 – just to name a few – we have more volume, variety and velocity of data being generated than ever before. So, how do we ensure that this data is relevant?
When considering the vast amount of information available it is all too easy to be blindsided by its complexity. But if we narrow it down, we can determine the relevance of data by applying some innately human characteristics.
As Alice in Wonderland said when exploring her new, confounding world, “curious and curiouser!” Being open to new opportunities and knowledge allows agility in changing information requirements to suit the organisation’s needs.
As the world continues to digitise at a rapid pace, staying across new trends and how they can assist the business helps to determine the information a business needs. An example of customer experience comes to mind: Once, if you owned a retail store, you never knew how many people entered the store without purchasing and couldn’t grasp potential lost sales.
Now, with website analytics, it’s possible to know how many people access your website without purchasing along with other important statistics including how long they stayed on the site.
Constant curiosity will drive you to question what information the organisation needs and how advances in technology and digitisation might allow you to source this data.
Internal communication ensures that information fits the needs of the organisation. Information needs to be communicated effectively to different divisions within the organisation. Sometimes, CFOs might present financial data in a way that they think is easy to understand, but that in fact isn’t easy to understand to those who need to grasp the meaning of that data. Take the CFO’s report to the Board for example. It’s imperative that a director understands the financial responsibilities and financial position of their company and because of this, it’s often assumed that directors understand implicitly what the CFO report is providing. Yet this may not always be the case. In some organisations, the CFO is remiss by providing too little information without any narrative or context. In others, the CFO might focus on complex, quantitative dashboards that make sense to the finance department but little sense to anyone else. An organisation with open lines of communication will allow for better feedback, enabling such gaps to be recognised and rectified, ensuring smarter decisions.
Collaboration is imperative within an organisation, paving the way for progress and growth. From an information perspective, it ensures information collected is relevant. Yet productive collaboration is something that has to be worked at. Having good governance measures such as collaboration guidelines allows an organisation to create processes and procedures for collaboration and formalise informal practices. The outcome is more inclusive and considered decision making.
Simplicity is integral to the digital world, especially with regards to data. Users of information want to receive it in a clear and concise manner without having to think too hard or long about what it is they have received. That high-level thinking should be reserved for their deliberations on the data rather than the interpretation of it. Making complex information easy to understand allows for end users to use that data to deliver smart decisions.
While the decision-making process within an organisation can be complex, the key factor is the information that drives the decisions. For this to be of high quality and relevance, it’s best to approach information gathering with the four C’s in mind: Be curious, communicate, collaborate, and clarify.