Information technology systems are the beating heart of any enterprise, and the key to ensuring business runs smoothly from one day to the next. They can also confer a real competitive advantage. Businesses like Amazon built their success on superior systems and use of information. What’s perhaps less obvious is the fact that any enterprise that gets the right data into the hands of decision makers can make thousands of daily decisions just a little bit better. This can add up to a huge gain in profitability and rapidly transform overall performance.
There’s been plenty of hype about “big data.” But what we have in mind is subtly different: finding ways of helping decision makers cut through complexity, making their lives easier. Rather than “making use of that mountain of data on your server,” it’s about enabling what one of our clients once called “business – fast and simple.” The key to pulling this off is to develop an explicit, differentiated strategy for IT investment across your business, focusing on those areas where agile systems can deliver an edge.
It’s nice to have the latest system, but it’s also expensive. As with any other investment, spending on information technology needs to be targeted where it delivers the greatest returns. This tends to be in areas in which better management of information means better (and faster) decisions about things that really matter.
Where these opportunities lie is rarely obvious from the outset. But it’s something senior executives are well-placed to figure out. To identify the areas with greatest potential, ask the following:
- For each of the key levers in my business, how good are my decision making capabilities? And how far, and in what ways, do they rely on high quality management of information?
- Do I know how my capabilities and my rate of innovation compare to my competitors? Do I believe I’m driving more value from my IT projects annually than they are?