Monday, April 10, 2017

Enabling Business with an intelligent Business Intelligence strategy !

The company had faced challenges due to change in leadership positions often due to bad hires across positions; decisions were made based on bravado and far-fetched stories that even the naïve would find hard to believe. The pseudo leaders in turn hired a coterie that would make them look good in meetings and talk about the glorious past that remained unverified. The rot at the top soon started bringing results commensurate to the collective intelligence applied to the problems and opportunities at hand.

In a growing market loss of market share and dive in profitability for a steady business could not remain unexplained for too long; the growth agenda and strategy that was outlined with help of big management consultants was quickly challenged by equity analysts while the shareholders listened to the stories with unease. Nepotism running rife through the ranks led to collapse of meritocracy – some becoming victims of their high professionalism and others weeded out as they individually threatened the collective brainpower.

The stock price which had tasted peaks with the induction of the new team started a slow and steady slide shaking up the promoters and the Board, to sit up, take notice and do something about it. Failure of cronyism resulted in tumbling one after another like ninepins but not before they had shaken the foundations of a company that had withstood market uncertainty and thrived in the long history of the industry. Few of the inept skillfully hid themselves from scrutiny and survived the expungement of undesirables.

One such survivor was the CIO who successfully portrayed herself as a critical resource and managed to save her band of followers too. She misrepresented past ties distancing herself from those out of favor; those under her patronage followed the leader saving their skin as the rest of the team watched in amazement. They rode on hard work of few good people, quick to claim credit while ensuring that no voice was raised or heard against their tribe as they strengthened their feeble position step by step.

Taking control of the situation the Patriarch emerged out of retirement and hired fresh management team to take over the shambles, revive and restore the rightful place in the market. Staying out of sight during the initial reviews and analysis, she slowly emerged from the shadows to stay out of the limelight lest her highest level of competency fall short of the rising baseline. The enterprise trundled along recovering some lost territory but struggling in the absence of accurate and timely information from the transactional and reporting systems.

Under the spotlight she promised to create business intelligence strategy to help the company in taking better and effective decisions. The task being beyond her intellectual capacity, she felt prudent to hire a big name consulting company to formulate a plan that would save her skin and earn some brownie points. Budget for the exercise was sanctioned and the consultant brought on board; as they got started an unaligned team mate who was the mainstay of existing business and financial reporting quit.

A specialist was brought in by the consulting company who understood the industry as well as the technology adoption curve for similar enterprises. Within no time he had captured the current state of transactional, financial, sales, and other functional reporting, which was quite basic. He evaluated the tools and technologies, inventory of licenses available, and called a meeting with the CIO and her team to discuss the future roadmap, vision and direction, and get an insider view of the challenges and opportunities.

She started off well, but…: I want to outsource the entire analytics and operations while my team can focus on what matters to the business. My team lead has quit recently and due to that there is a void that needs to be filled. You know we implemented this new ERP system last year and then we also invested in this big name BI tool, the implementation of which is still going on, and my BI lead has quit. I want a strategy for which report should be served from the ERP system and which one should come from the BI system.

The consultant did not know whether to repeat the question or accept the answer at face value; as he mulled over the response, the silence was broken by the CIO again: Why are you confused ? We developed over 200 reports in the ERP system, but hardly any are in use; most users want a data dump and then use it in spreadsheets. The management is upset as the inability of the investments to deliver; which is why I need your help to understand which reports we should retain and which we can move to the new system !

The next day the consulting company withdrew from the engagement !

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