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Picture this.  You are the CEO, a senior executive, or a board member that feels like you can’t really see all that’s going on in your business.  Sure, you hear the weekly executive reports and you see sales numbers, project updates and the latest marketing campaigns.  But you just can’t seem to tie it all together into a succinct image of the current and future health of your business.

So you encourage the IT department to find a great Business Intelligence (BI) tool.  Something that will give you charts and graphs and tell you everything you need to know, every day, in real time.

And a monstrous project begins.  IT builds data warehouses, implements cool tools, and somewhere in the distant future, there it is.  Your custom dashboard, right there on your desktop, your tablet, and your phone.  You’re in your glory. Now you can see exactly what’s going on in your business.

Fast forward about three quarters.  You’re buried under charts and graphs and tables and dashboards.  You have more information than you ever dreamed possible.  But you still don’t understand how the business is performing or why.

I call this the Paradox of Business Intelligence.  Most BI tools are great.  Make no mistake about that.  But it’s not the tool that’s the problem.  It’s how you implement it.

You didn’t really need to see every detail about everything that’s happening in your business.  That’s how you got overwhelmed with BI.

What you really need to track is the small handful of leading indicators that most accurately and most succinctly, tell the story of your business performance.

That’s where strategy management comes in.  Strategy starts with a clear understanding of your market differentiators – your sustainable competitive advantage.  Then it looks at how you can delight your customers and extend that competitive advantage.  And we identify the few (maybe 3 to 9) measures that show how the business is performing.  Finally, we determine the processes that we need to add, change or remove, and the organizational support needed to implement those processes that will delight your customers and grow your competitive advantage.  And we measure all of it.

Suddenly, you have a small set of key performance indicators (KPIs) and a clear understanding of the operational metrics that come out of your processes and contribute to the KPIs.  You can set performance objectives for every employee, from top to bottom, that tie to your strategic objectives.  And you can find the small percentage of data that can be used to track progress and predict outcomes.

Now, your business intelligence challenge is manageable.  Your dashboard is concise and paints a very clear picture of what’s working and what’s not.  It helps you pinpoint areas of the business and key projects that need attention.  It helps you keep every employee aligned with your vision.  And it gives you the critical information you need to succeed.

Strategy Management is the prerequisite that makes Business Intelligence work.

 

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