The advantages of being small

Working with large enterprises on a regular basis; it is increasingly clear to me that there are many advantages to being a small, challenger business. We are in transitionary times where many large corporate exist in structures, with hierarchies, and with cultures that were created in times past. They have yet to adapt to new technologies, ways of working, and opportunities. As such, they are open and ripe to being disrupted, disturbed and attacked.
They key to this opportunity? – data and information; and the right kind of thinking.

Most large corporates are still under the culture of ‘push’ – IT departments pushing technology, tools and software from a position of ‘supply’. They lack real influence with the ‘business’ who in many cases are more aware and switched on to opportunities to use data and information, than the ‘technical’ teams who are in charge of supplying them. The problem, is the mis-alignment of supply and demand from the senior executives on down.

The prize for these large organisations are to become ‘Strategic Information Managers’; one where data and information and its use creates a differentiator and advantage. This is not just for the large corporation as this goal is far more about living the right ‘lifestyle’. Once you get past the word ‘strategic’ (an over-used word if there ever was one) – you can get down to some very simple ways of giving your business a boost quickly.

1. Understand your customer; map out the customer journey / experience- understand where you directly touch your customer with a process; and the effect or behaviour this then has on the customer. Try and capture this data where possible, and then using basic analytics – understand cause and effect.

2. Be clear about the transactional recordings of most platforms (CRM, Finance, etc); and the ‘experience’ of time and ‘effort’ that really matter to your customer. Don’t forget that in the ‘bad old days’ before we relied completely on 1s and 0s; we had much more direct feedback on what customers thought and experienced with us. Work hard to match your data, processes, and customer experience match as closely as possible.

3. Understand the difference between ‘leading’ and ‘lagging’ indicators – most common software and technology platforms only record transactional events; they therefore are giving you a view of the past. Be clear about what happens in what order for you to recognise revenue or output. You may have to understand some basic modelling or analytics – but its worth it in the long run.

4. Be absolutely clear about the difference between ‘capability’ and ‘maturity’. Buying the whizziest and best software or technology will only give you capability; understanding what kind of lifestyle and thinking you will need to gain value from your data and information – whether its your marketing, social media channels, or customer profiles — is absolutely key.

Most large enterprises are filled with people who are small cogs in large wheels who believe their job is dependant on what they ‘know’. Data is treated the same way – and little value is often realised. Understand that data and information must serve an action that you will take, or a resource that you will allocate – and then will result in an outcome – on this basis you can challenge the biggest organisations and beat them at their own game.

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