Access to reliable information is absolutely critical to any big decision. Without a clear view of an environment and its variables, it is almost impossible to make informed choices which minimise the risk of failure or misfortune. This is a common truth that we all encounter on a regular basis.
Nowhere is this phenomenon more pronounced than in the world of business. Steering a large corporation towards success and prosperity in the face of fierce competition requires a deep understanding of the market in which it operates.
Today, it is no longer enough to employ last year’s financial and operational figures as strategic markers. Instead, executives must have access to key business information in real time. To remain competitive Chief Executive Officers and Chief Information Officers require an up to date overview of organisational strengths and weaknesses throughout the financial year.
Achieving this ideal requires a reassessment of the manner in which businesses record and evaluate data. Hardcopy reporting that focuses on backdated information is no longer effective to organisations competing in a modern market. Instead, decision makers should focus on implemented real time analytical engines which extract and gather statistics, ultimately transforming raw information into valuable insight.
The insurance and financial industries have already embarked on this exciting journey. In developed markets such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, analytical engines are commonplace. These tools equip executive decision makers with an up to the minute understanding of the business, its customers and its competitors.
In turn, this encourages a level of corporate agility which would not have been achievable prior to the influx of modern technology. By gaining immediate insight into emerging trends, businesses can swiftly adapt to realise a more positive outcome within the market.
Businesses serving the African setting, however, are still somewhat behind the curve. Although analytical frameworks have been applied in isolation, they are not yet commonplace within the corporate environment.
Regrettably, this lag is due to a lack of understanding or willingness among local executives. These individuals often regard traditional business reporting practices as a more favourable and cost effective solution.
Although this attitude may not hamper African business in the short term, more aggressive entities will ultimately emerge and displace these organisations over a period of two to three years. Not unlike the PC or mobile revolutions, firms who are unwilling to embrace comprehensive internal analytics will lose competitive edge over time.
The solution lies, quite simply, in a willingness to investigate and embrace new technology. Real time analytics is not a passing trend, it’s a fundamental shift in the way businesses react to change. Adapting to new opportunity need not be a negative experience; it could just be what changes a business for the better.
David Richards, Innovation Group’s Senior Manager for Insurance Software Solutions