By John Lucker, Principal, Deloitte Consulting
It has been three years since I wrote a series of Insurance & Technology articles on creating enterprise-wide information inventories (Step 1), preparing enterprise-wide information (Step 2) and leveraging analytics as a key differentiator (Step 3). The goal for this series was to articulate some pragmatic ideas that could be used as grounding points for initial objectives to make data available for advanced analytics. With or without the ideas in these articles, if your company has spent the past few years scouring the enterprise for internal and external data, cleaning and normalizing data and implementing and training various personnel on your BI tools, how are you now doing with using all that you've done? Are you generating ROI from these efforts? Have you moved beyond the technology required to do this and worked to create an organizational culture of BI innovation?Unfortunately some companies would say that some successes have been realized but not enough has been done to create a culture of BI innovation. So if this is the case with your company, what can you do about it posthaste? Some recommendations for moving forward are deceptively straight forward - focus on what matters most, proceed methodically, be creative and hurry up!
However, it's OK to pause briefly to take a breath, assess the situation and challenge the path you are proceeding down to determine if some course correction may be needed. In the spirit of continuous improvement it is important to engage in disciplined and creative thinking, to take the blinders off, if necessary, and rethink any shifting priorities and take advantage of the organizational experience to date.
Inevitably your company has worked hard to create all the parts and pieces necessary to make BI come alive. It is not unusual for a company to experience some organizational exhaustion from the work leading up to this point. Make sure you have the right people with the aptitudes, passion and personalities for innovative activities. Be sure they are experienced in your business and have access to all the necessary information and BI tools. And then give them their assignment - talk to their colleagues throughout your organization, people from all levels and functions, and pick their brains. Ask them about their vexing business problems, aggregate people's ideas and circulate the lists of ideas to gather feedback. Sort through all of this, remove duplications or obviously straightforward items, and finalize your recommendations for next steps.
It has often been said that time can best be spent learning the things you don't already know or the things you want to know rather than continuously refining things that are known or have become routine. But you must also be aware of the things that leadership thinks it knows but may not be true. These are often the 'facts' that are potentially misunderstandings or myths and that absent a disciplined challenging or validation of the facts can actually jeopardize success versus create opportunity for the organization.
BI is about providing leaders with the information and insights that will help improve business performance with better decision making. So, before proceeding onward, do yourself and your company a favor. Be sure that you are asking hard innovative questions. Don't settle for the easy stuff but really push the thinking. Tie that thinking and the items on your list back to the strategic objectives of your organization and the risks that could prevent the organization from being successful. Be aware of current events and the state-of-the-company and be sure your thinking ties to them as well.
With all that has been going on in the financial and insurance world lately, asking and answering hard questions predicated on fact, data and analytics has never been more important. Those companies that have been able to organize their data in ways that allow them to monitor and analyze their business in multiples of dimensions, slices, tranches, and levels will be able to better understand underlying issues and risk with greater precision. Only with the right tools, the right training, the right people, and the right culture of BI innovation can you become better at the alchemy of business - turning information lead into information gold.With all that has been going on in the financial and insurance world lately, asking and answering hard questions predicated on fact, data and analytics has never been more important.