An Outlook on Business Performance

If companies were cars, most of them would be without dashboards.

Many would argue that they have a robust reporting system in place that allows them to read market indicators and monitor performance. Yet, this is still not a real dashboard. Your car’s dashboard is a real-time device. It does not tell you how fast you were going 2 days ago, nor does it tell you how much the engine’s temperature was five minutes ago. In fact, your car’s dashboard tells you how much gas you still have now, and how many rounds per minute the engine is going now. Performance Management is a real-time game. It can only rest on fresh real time data not on a posteriori generated reports of how well we did last month, because what is gone is gone and what is done is done. There is no “Undo” button in life, nor in business.

More than ever today Businesses need to measure, monitor, and synchronize their performance on very timely basis. With digitization, Competition has become a real-time game, and hence Performance Measurement and Management should also become a real-time game. Businesses can no more afford boasting with an archaic structure of report generating tools that serve non-fresh, and more often, outdated data that’s two weeks old and only useful for reminiscing.

Digitization has and will continue to disrupt many Industries, and few years down the road, most industries and economies will be affected by this disruption, if not disrupted beyond recognition. We will witness the fall of many conventional industries, the transformation of others, and the rise of totally new ones. For Businesses who see this coming, they will probably survive and persevere, yet for those who missed reading into the dynamics and impact of digitization, they will fade away, or at best, they will go on as a mutated form of market black sheep.

As such, Business decisions need not only be made correctly onward, which was the purpose that legacy reporting systems served. Business decisions today need to be made correctly and fast enough, first time and every time, because the market today has acquired the aspects of tide and time, both of which wait for no man. Gone will be the days where clients ask for quotations; competition will happen right now, on the web, and as such decisions will have to be made right now, and on the web. The time compression secured by digitization, has rendered the leeway for a profound and well chewed decision making process almost impossible. Otherwise, you are literary putting yourself outside the market.

Yet, fortunately, digitization has also secured an alternative. With its capacity to collect, consolidate, crunch, analyze, and generate concrete conclusions on big data, digitization made real-time decision making very possible. More impressive, as well, is it has managed to turn qualitative data into hard numbers, something that only few years back was a dream. This probably is the reason why Businesses didn’t venture into having real-time dashboards before. Still, the ultimate power of digitization is its ability to monitor and interpret human behavior and turn it into quantitative data in real-time.

Digitization has not only made real-time dashboards possible, but also simpler, cheaper, and reliable. Businesses now have no more excuses for not shifting into having a dashboard tool on the laptop and mobile device of each of their managers and employees. Business Leaders can no more afford to make decisions based on outdate data at a time where they can have a real-time flow of fresh data channeled their way in the “happening now” mode.

So what? Put simply, businesses should waste no time to rethink their decision making models. True that the mindset of having objectives and KPIs in day to day practice is more obvious, yet dashboard tools and mindsets are significantly lagging behind. Several are the reasons for this. One could be that businesses are not making the link between survival and the criticality of making quick and reliable decisions nowadays. Another reason could be lack of business awareness that affordable and reliable dashboard tools are now available in the market; still, a third reason could be businesses’ worry about changing their decision making model, and the disruption that it can cause to their current operations.

Bottom line, four main strategies are highly recommended for Businesses if they want to survive. First, assess their current decision making model and its effectiveness in generating aspired results. Second, consider acquiring a dashboard tool that would be their main route for planning, measuring, monitoring and rectifying performance. Third, businesses should establish a Planning & Performance function that would handle the management of their dashboard and take prompt action accordingly. Last but not least, businesses need to transform the mindset of their employees to enable them to embrace and accept that performance measurement and management through dashboards is the critical path for business and employee survival in the days to come.