In most walks of life we have access to solutions we can use to help people. But getting the right one to be effective means we need to be able to listen first.
An email I got from a mate had some insightful advice in the form of this humorous story.
A drunk sat down on a subway next to a priest.. His tie was stained, his face was plastered with lipstick, and a half-empty bottle was sticking out of his torn coat pocket.
He opened his newspaper and began reading.
After a few minutes the man turned asked, "Say Father,what causes arthritis?"
The priest replied, "My Son, it’s caused by loose living, being with wicked women, too much alcohol, contemptuous manners sleeping with prostitutes and lack of a bath."
The drunk muttered , "Well, I’ll be darned," Then returned to his paper.
The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized. "I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?"
The drunk answered, "I don’t Father. I was just reading that the Pope does."
It concluded with:
When someone asks you a question make sure you understand it before answering”
We rightfully focus on Business intelligence as the way to manage mass amounts of data. This no brainer gives us access to markets with wider spreads of control and reduces or even sometimes completely eliminate costs. There is no argument in a growing business that using technology to create new markets, make or processes and change or reduce what can be an alarming increase in process inefficiencies that emerge as a business changes. But it must be done with management brains still in gear and their eyes on the ball to avoid what are my be obvious disasters.
It is also not uncommon for mature businesses to have state of the art technologies that are under employed alongside formerly expedient manual processes. Often time’s redundant jobs are also actually created when a small 20 minute a day task grows unchecked to be core.
In the interests of expediency for short terms success so often these manual process are created. Stopping this can cause brittleness to accommodate change, but as processes evolved past a use by date and become a core they must be moved and integrated into a core process. In a business, this is constant vigil for many to maintain a positive continuous improvement culture that naturally flushes into the open these expedient innovations so the business remains competitive and viable.
When business embark on improvement aiming to fix them as they upgraded there BI, attention to this is a must . These associated issues of data override the value of BI tools as reports are unable to show offline data. And unless these issues are addressed as part of the core reporting to keep getting all the core data in one place the BI value will soon fail as departmental people become disenchanted and start looking for other solutions. This in turn compounds the issue more.
On the other spectrum too much reliance on automation can equally lead to issues and even business demise. Going to far with automation alerting and so on can cause the business management to take its eye of the ball with a sense of false comfort . Or worse automation that automates or removes human decisions may even stop an ability to stop what may lead to disaster.
An example is the macro impact of the power of super computers around the world now trading stocks with other super computers. These now make human traders obsolete and as they complete algorithmic decision based trades in microseconds and nanoseconds.
These computers are “co-located” near stock exchange servers to reduce the round-trip time for electrons passing through networks and complete their financial trades unattended at near light speed. Connected by fiber networks world markets too now have very limited ability for intervention to correct rogue behavior, be it unintended or malicious. So as financial markets are now so tightly coupled, the Butterfly effect and Flash Crash phenomena are more pronounced, where even the smallest event in a faraway place can cause a global market meltdown.
The same applies to a business where strategically a small change in the marketplace or in the business can cause it to miss its timing and go out of business overnight.
Keeping the balance is the job Executives at all levels must face in a way never before seen .