Avoid analysis paralysis: use data to enable decision-making, growth
Andy Coussins, senior vice-president and head of sales, international, Epicor Software.
There are huge amounts of data being created, mined and managed every day, and, according to an executive summary by Cisco, global IP traffic will experience an almost threefold increase over the next five years. With broadband speeds set to double by 2021, and more data being shared than ever before, the amount of information that now sits at our fingertips is exploding.
Today, data is accumulated from a wide variety of sources, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to manage this growing wealth of information (which includes details related to financial transactions, inventory and production processes), let alone use it, says Andy Coussins, senior vice-president and head of sales, international, Epicor Software.
Digitalisation also means workers now face a daily tsunami of e-mails. In 2018, around 124.5 billion business e-mails were sent and received worldwide each day, with the average office employee receiving over 121 pieces of digital correspondence daily. Projections show that by 2021, 320 billion e-mails will be sent every day, an increase that will have a detrimental effect on the productivity and well-being of those receiving them.
Dealing with the data deluge
There is no denying that data plays a key role in the everyday decisions made by organisations and their employees. However, the sheer volume of information available today can result in data blindness and confusion, rather than clarity, when making all-important business choices, leading to 'analysis paralysis'.
Recent research (1) indicates that the data deluge workers experience on a daily basis is becoming overwhelming. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of employees claim they're dealing with more and more data, while almost two-thirds (62%) said they are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of e-mails they receive. Over a third (35%) went on to confess they feel stressed every day due to information overload.
This is a challenge for workers in every area of the business, with over two-thirds (62%) of CEOs, 44% of IT workers, 63% of operations staff, and 70% of finance professionals agreeing that information overload impacts them on a daily basis. With data paralysis affecting staff members at every level of the organisation, the risks this poses cannot be ignored.
Information overload not only puts workers under pressure, it can also have a damaging impact on their ability to make accurate business decisions; 60% (2) claim the amount of data and information they receive daily can sometimes make it hard to make the right choices.
Better visibility equates to better decision-making
With decision-making so pivotal to driving business growth, information overload represents a worrying development. Making the wrong decision can have serious negative implications for the bottom line, especially when it comes to adapting an export strategy or initiating a new business plan without appropriately reviewing if there is any potential impact on profit margins.
Achieving full visibility of operations across the business is key for maximising the enterprise's decision-making capabilities. This includes having on-demand access to the right information, at the right time. However, according to KPMG's 2016 Global Manufacturing Outlook report, 43% of senior executives admit they had either limited or no visibility at all into their supply chain, a concerning figure.
While no one person can have direct visibility of everything that is going on in a company, business intelligence technologies and analytic software, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and manufacturing execution software (MES), should be used to provide these insights. These technologies work by collecting, distilling, interpreting, editing, and presenting meaningful data in a timely manner, and highlighting issues and areas of concern in a way that is clear and actionable.
Making informed business decisions
Cutting through the everyday influx of data is an ongoing business need, and systems that can help make decision-makers choose quickly, and wisely, are more crucial than ever before. To eliminate analysis paralysis, businesses need to access contextualised data and present this in a format, in a dashboard, or as graphics or alerts, that users find easy to work with. To simplify this process, all data needs to be stored in a centralised system that can be integrated with other devices, so that information can be accessed across the entire business, by multiple parties.
Solutions like ERP and MES make it possible to enable the integration of data across the entire product life cycle, from design, through to engineering, manufacturing, delivery, and customer service. Giving everyone, from C-level executives to those working on the manufacturing floor, access to real-time, and actionable, information and insights. Having a filtered view of all this detail will enable decisions to be based on relevant, accurate and reliable data.
Southco, an English manufacturer of engineered access hardware solutions, is just one company that's using software solutions to make informed business decisions with the right data. Intelligence gathered from the firm's MES revealed that the business was only benefiting from a 20% utilisation of its static assembly lines, with some benches being used for a mere eight hours each month. Southco acted on these insights by deploying semi-automated plug-and-play assembly machines, which pushed average bench utilisation up to 60% and helped save on costs.
There is no room for uncertainty in business when paving the way for future growth. By applying analytics to data, decision-makers can swiftly access insights that will enable them to make the right choices to improve operations across an entire business, including customer service and demand planning, and, ultimately, profits.
(1) The research for the Global Growth Index was conducted by Morar Consulting on behalf of Epicor in December 2017. The research questioned 2 450 business decision-makers and employees in businesses in 14 countries across the globe, about their growth performance in the last 12 months.
(2) Global Growth Index research