As businesses become leaner, usually from the inevitable result of cost-cutting and transformation projects, they will need to change the way they operate and manage costs going forward.
Reducing head count may give quick results to the bottom line and shareholder confidence but it rarely achieves real improvements in productivity in the shirt term, and almost always demotivates existing staff that are left to carry the extra load.
The introduction of any new software systems or tools aiming to improve productivity are almost always associated with change management issues and those issues often find their way to the coal face of customer management.
In any era where the customer experience is critical, and where social media reports every glitch, businesses have to walk a constant tightrope trying to keep all the negative and positive influences in balance.
In recent years, big data has been heralded as the answer to many problems. Businesses have been amassing data on almost all areas of their business for years, mainly in databases that acted as repositories for applications.
Diverse data, previously seen as unrelated – operational vs financial data, for example - is now being melded, mashed and moulded to produce a whole new range of comparisons and conclusions that are supposed to help management manage better.
Of course, this assumes that you have staff on hand that can manage all this big data and has the knowhow to make sense of it all, based often on a loosely defined set of requirements from users.
But more and more businesses are discovering that they are sitting on a treasure trove of easily accessible data that is already being accessed by applications and only needs minor tweaking to give them exactly what they need.
One good example, close to my own heart, is using data collected for revenue assurance, fraud and risk management and by enhancing it and presenting it differently to get a better view of the customer, products and services and their true financial standing.
We are seeing data previously used for a single purpose being re-presented to offer insights as critical as profitability at a customer or product level, customer standing (in terms of the proclivity to leave you) and even the impact of social media on your business driven by customer activity on sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
We are not talking here of profiling the customer so we can offer them things we think they will buy (a common justification for big spending on big data), but something far more basic than that – are they a good customer and are they worth keeping. The same goes for products and services being offered.
Determining the true cost of any of these, compared with the revenues they generate is the basic premise for margin calculation and it is something that few businesses are able to do easily or accurately. This information must be available before any rational cost-cutting exercise can be undertaken.
It is no longer acceptable to wait for external auditors to complete their quarterly, semi-annual or annual tasks to determine profitability and being able to get accurate assessments any time is now critical for good business.
The case for automated auditing is at the core of what is being termed Enterprise Business Assurance or EBA, and smart operators are able accomplish it by using tools and data already at their disposal without the need for expensive ‘big data’ solutions.
No matter what type of business you run, you probably have all the necessary components at hand. With some guidance from others already taking advantage of what they have you can also determine costs, margins and profitability quickly and ensure that any cost cutting exercise is effective and of value.
By attending the EBA Summit in Lisbon, May 21-22 you can find out from the experts how to get the best out of your data to keep customers and stakeholders happy, no matter what type of business you are in. Why not find out for yourself?