When anyone says, “I need data,” I think what they really want is information. There is no shortage of data. But there is a gap in processing data into actionable information.
In my personal experience, I see that employees spend approximately 30-40 percent of their time researching and processing data to derive the information they need to service their internal and external customers. This means 30-40 percent of their time isn’t spent with customers. That is way too much time lost, and it will get worse as the dependence on information increases.
A big part of the wasted time is the manual process of creating and finding information. Relying on static reports created by someone for you, waiting for custom dashboards and requesting your analysts for yet another report … all this adds up to missed opportunities.
Your company has invested in CRM, ERP and operations tools to better forecast and track opportunities. And it’s using marketing automation to reach and engage with more prospects. The benefits of these tools — productivity, speed, efficiency and execution — are clear; and that’s why you use them.
These applications create enormous amounts of data; but sifting through this data is not optimum. You have to still use static reports created by your analysts and reply on manual out-of-date spreadsheets to get to the information. Some tools in the market are complex to use. Users need training, knowledge of data structures and some capability to generate SQL queries.
Here are five reasons why the “lack of information flow” is stunting your company’s growth.
1. Speed is critical
Gartner estimates that 89 percent of businesses are competing based solely on customer experience. It’s what helps you win customers and have them coming back to buy more. If your organization takes a long time to service customers, you can bet their business will go elsewhere if somebody can respond faster.
2. Guessing leads to errors
In the absence of good information, you rely on guessing. Using day-old data can lead to errors and make you look messy. Or worse, it can lead to revenue-impacting errors. It’s not a scalable solution for a growing business.
3. Manual work drains your resources
In high-paced environments, we are all asked to do more with less. It’s humanly impossible if you have to do everything manually. You need more help and automation. Tools that automate tasks with accuracy will give you the capacity to manage more deals with the same resources.
4. Adding more analysts is not practical
One option is to add more analysts to support the demand for data. This is at best a temporary solution. This short-term fix can lead to analyst fatigue. Besides, it takes them away from working on higher-order research projects.
5. Opportunity cost
You might think that your manual efforts are fine, they are working or they aren’t much of a burden. Ask your knowledge workers! Ever wondered why productivity goals are not met? While there are plenty of reasons for missing targets, it’s easy to eliminate many of the hurdles and roadblocks that contribute to missed opportunities and missed revenue. Revenue and profits are left on the table when the sales team forgets add-on items or offers the wrong up-sells.
So what should a growing business do?
Fortunately, there are advances in technology that will make it easy for everyone in the enterprise to be able to access actionable information in real time. Several startups are working on search and natural language processing to bring search to workers in the enterprise. Just as Google is the leader in search technology for the World Wide Web, search in a business environment will be focused on the data in the enterprise.
I have no doubt that knowledge workers would embrace search at work, just as they have in their private lives. It will give them the ability to do personal analysis and get information immediately.
Search-driven analysis has the potential of unleashing a new era of business productivity.
Prem Talreja is advisor to The Fabric, which helps entrepreneurs and startups validate their product concept and enable their business in next generation cloud infrastructure. He is also head of marketing at Drastin, which is developing conversational search technology for enterprise data. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org and on LinkedIn.