An Information Strategy is a key component to enable any organisation to meet its goals and targets.
Indeed an Information Strategy should be aligned to the Organisation Strategy & Organisation Design, providing the insight and intelligence which will enable decision making throughout all levels of the organisation.
Insight is a term used to describe an interpretation & reasoning of information. Where this is sometimes lost within organisations is that the ‘interpretation’ can mean many things to many people. Therefore it would not be unreasonable to suggest that the larger the organisation, the more problematic this problem becomes. The more times data is interpreted, the more guesswork people have to use to understand the data.
Many times I’ve witnessed boards and senior management expressing that their Management Information (MI) just doesn’t makes sense based on what they know about the last period operations or sales. I liken this effect to that of the game ‘Chinese whispers’.
It is essential that organisations have one view of their information, and indeed a common source for their insight to remain consistent. But if an organisation doesn’t talk about, visualise or understand the data in the same way then it’s inevitable that misunderstandings will arise as information is collected, analysed, collated into management summaries and board packs.
itelligent-i helps organisations to understand insight, but importantly aligned to their organisations strategy and needs. To help clarify the insight drivers we break down an organisations requirements into 3 areas of insight that help to focus the organisations resources and understand growth, impacts, new requirements etc.
Firstly Operating Insight does not only refer to the operations function within an organisation. We deem operating insight as a term to define all functional areas that operate in the organisation design both internally and externally (eg. a service provider or partner).
Operating insight is the most common practice and the one we see most organisations having implemented to date. Information is collected from systems and spread sheets about how the organisations operational units are processing tasks, queues and other tactile features. Then the information is gathered and presented to show how well (or not) the organisation is performing.
Operating insight is critical to the organisation but too often the information is collated and interpreted out of context to the rest of the organisation causing the information to be presented with a silo mentality.
The most common issue with operating insight is that management is in total control of presenting ‘statistics’ to the board. The challenge with this model is the risk of ‘vanity’ and ‘job security’ becoming drivers to interpret the information in a more flattering manner.
Furthermore the organisation as we know it today is changing. All organisations understanding that ‘outsourcing’ can be a more efficient, or provide capabilities to meet strategic goals. In fact in the UK local governments are implementing strategies that outsource a vast amount of services leaving only a core strategic function. In these instances contract negotiations are critical, but so is the term on which visibility is provided. Having agreed access to the relevant information will enable an organization to monitor and assess the outsourced provider to ensure their commitment remains. It is often the practice of outsourcers to make the operation more efficient, this is how they will ultimately generate profit from the contract. But how will this effect an organisation’s strategy 1, 2 or 5 years into the contracted period?
Decision insight is the practice of defining the information and insight which will be used to manage the organisation’s strategy. Its purpose is to support decision makers to understand how the organisation is progressing against its strategy.
While in practice this sounds simple, it is absolutely critical that an organisation has a common language and understanding of its information, therefore being clear on the insight and what it is telling.
It is also essential to ensure that partners, services and contracts all consider the provision of information providing the ability to maintain visibility and a connection with the value add initially intended.
By implementing Decision Insight an organisation can quickly and easily assess how they’re aligned to their strategy, and importantly identify where the challenges are being presented. The consequence may be a change to the operation, perhaps defining KPI’s and KAQ’s which will be proven overtime and visible in the Operating Insight.
Critically the world of ‘predictive insight’ fits here too. In a world of social networks and emerging technologies that are linked to the internet (web 3.0) providing vast and rich sources of data. The availability of information could not be more prevalent. However using predictive insight on its own will not yield results (although we have great fun in the office finding out about ‘stuff’). The analysis an organisation conducts should be relevant to its strategic intentions and adding value (or if I may ‘intelligence’) to the insight produced.
Last in our list, but arguably the most important insight is that of our customers. Be it retailing, insurance, banking or public services we all exist and ensure our future by being the preferred suppliers to the Customers/Clients/Partners/Citizens (consumers) of our services, solutions or products. If we fail to deliver on our contracts, if we fail to work together and build a bond with our consumers then we will ultimately fail.
Our consumers can tell us exactly how we are doing. They are the critical path in our success. They can indeed tell us if we have our strategy right, or wrong.
Today the consumers of our services, solutions or products are not averse to telling the world about how they feel our organisations have treated them by posting on social networks. The clever organisations align social networks to their strategy and their benefit. A great example of this is @VirginTrains. Next time you’re on a late train tweet them with your dissatisfaction; You’ll get an individual (yes a person!) come back to you publically via twitter resolving your query. They can then use that information to let other consumers know about the journey ahead, and of course customer satisfaction gets better. It’s easier to monitor social networks that you think. That’s intelligent thinking put into practice.
Ultimately we have to develop a feedback loop to support our strategic intentions. Understanding our success is essential to understanding the ‘what’ and the ‘how we deliver’ in our given area expertise or our products.
itelligent-i believes that one of the above can improve decision making, but singularly the impacts cannot be seen and therefore we risk making decisions that adversely affect our own organisation, or worse our intended receivers.
Information, insight and intelligence support organisations to implement their strategy by testing it and assuring success via the insight it provides. Organisations that implement an information strategy are currently ahead of the competition and without doubt understand themselves better than those that don’t.
information | insight | intelligence