Data driven management is a recipe for success

The rise of big data analytics facilitates better decision making, change implementation and innovation at management level

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 11:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 9:19pm

As recently as five years ago, our consulting advice to clients was in part driven by industry-wide experience layered with insights derived from empirical research. If an executive had an idea and came to us and asked, “How might I implement this?” we could present blueprints based on industry analysis and hands-on experience.

With the rise of big data analytics, we are now able to slice and dice research more precisely and support our answer with data.

Management always involves a level of crystal ball gazing. Research of views today can be radically altered by events tomorrow. There is no sure thing.

But in today’s world there is no excuse for decision-making without data-driven analysis to support it. This is not to say gut “Ah-hah!” ideas are out. Quite the contrary; they have always been and likely always will be what drive innovation. But they can and should be backed up with data-driven research to support the likelihood of success.

In today’s world there is no excuse for decision-making without data-driven analysis to support it

When most people think of big ideas they think of the invention of the car or aeroplane, or in more modern times they consider innovations in medicine, payments and energy.

But “Ah-hah!” ideas that change a company are not always new inventions. Sometimes a massive transformation to the bottom line of a business is virtually invisible to the consumer. For example, an executive at a multinational company may look at its record-keeping or human resources capabilities, see a landscape of different solutions and processes and think: “I need to streamline this. That will save money.”

That is an “Ah-hah!” moment. It may not be a sexy one, but it is a real one. And it is easier said than done. Most executives can see where there are bottlenecks or inefficiencies in a company. But they do not necessarily see a road map for change or know how to implement it.

Transforming a major back office process can involve more potential pitfalls than you might imagine. But basic data-driven analysis of the current process could show what needs to be fixed and how. It could show the inconsistencies across a company.

Data could also be used to help create a path for how to change – showing who needs to be brought up to speed with continuous education and offering best-case solutions. Gone are the days of off-site learning sessions as one-off solutions for reskilling staff. Companies could and should provide staff with video training accessible across multiple devices.

Digital insights should be made available to staff across the spectrum. Data should serve as the basis for the C-suite to make decisions, for IT departments to identify anomalies, for risk teams to flag trouble, and for managers to help teach staff at all levels how to utilise new processes.

Just as how the consulting industry has changed to one that must be data-driven, so too has every company that hopes to continue to transform and flourish.

Beat Monnerat is Accenture’s senior managing director and consulting transformation lead