How does the old saying go? Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Whether you believe in this or not – what is business intelligence and analytics can be explained in a number of different ways. We will look at only a few in this post. My advice is, in the most sensitive way, to work for someone or have a business planning partner who subscribes to such a philosophy. They are less likely to be subject to catastrophic failure and you are less likely to lose that awesome job they have provided. Even so, failure isn’t really a bad thing, as long as one learns from such negative outcomes, I consider it a great personal development tool if you can get over the associated anxiety.
Information is the lifeblood of business planning:
Some may ask what intelligence has to do with planning? As such, I’m not talking about your education or elite business planning management skills, it’s about gathering heaps and heaps of information which we will call intelligence as a general term. Data and other information is the lifeblood of business and facilitates appropriate structure which in turn helps to generate success.
The army sends specially trained people out into the field whose purpose it is to gather information. Troops on the ground often have to concentrate on keeping themselves alive and performing other functions so the information they send back may be ok but not as thorough as a specialist. Business planning, back at the forward control, can only make plans using the information given to them using quality data gathered from the field.
In the fire service, we call them ground observers and their role is very similar to the army. They send back huge amounts of data on things like assets under threat, fire behaviour, vulnerable people, the effectiveness of attack etc. This information is vital to making plans and bringing the fire/incident to an effective conclusion. Relating this back the business planning, just imagine if you had similar quality data on what your competitors are doing, it would likely keep you one step ahead of the game.
Business Planning Research and Development:
How does this relate to business intelligence and analytics. During the business planning cycle, we can use specialists to do the research for us, but it costs a lot and we don’t have the public giving us money to do these sort of business planning intelligence gathering activities. Often, when a business is just starting out, we have to take on this and many other roles our selves. It’s important to think outside the box and determine things that may impact your business now and in the future. If you ask the right questions and do research with motivation and passion then plan/s you put together should be quite good. Even so, most business owners can’t think of everything, but as long as your plans are good, problems should be easily overcome and not jeopardize your success.
Often I have people come to me with problems and problematic solutions which are ineffective or cost the earth to achieve. If you are careful to select quality employees they can be a great source of positive ideas, but you will need to facilitate this and empower them to be creative. Contributing to the business planning process. Your success depends on them so don’t be intimidated if they seem a little smarter than you – use this to your advantage because they are likely to move on at some stage. If someone brings you only problems get rid of them, in a nice way, unless it’s your partner/wife/husband etc. “Then” you should probably try to manipulate them to bring them around to your way of thinking (shame on me).
Evidence and creation of plans:
Too often we use our gut feeling to move forward with business planning. This isn’t a bad thing and more and more business leaders start with a new concept using a gut feeling. Don’t ignore intuition but try to analyse it and see if there is some substance to the idea. In other words – try to confirm positive information relating to the thought.Such emotions have to be put into perspective and used as a tool to formulate a pathway to success. If you feel like you should pursue something, then get the intelligence hat out and start researching. The term “she’ll be right mate” (Australian Slang) doesn’t cut it and unless you find evidence to support your claim then the risks are high and potentially extreme to continue down that path.
Establish other associated costs:
An example of this would be – say we were buying a product to sell online on our nice looking website. We had a gut feeling that it would sell quite easily. Our margin would be small because we can only afford to purchase 100 items at say $10.00 ea. If we purchased 1000 items there would be a substantial discount and the cost per item would be reduced to $4.95. We know that the item must retail for less than $15.00 or customers will go to other sellers. Your gut feeling may be ok but on research, you would need to establish other associated cost and the profit per item.
At $10.00 per item it would seem to be almost pointless buying the item, but at $4.95 the margins would be far better. The decision you have to make is how can I finance 1000 items. There are so many other aspects to this but at least we would probably determine that at $10.00 it just won’t work.
Whether it’s your marketing plan, operations plan or some other plan I think I have established that effective business planning intelligence-gathering relating to your products or services are quite important. Don’t cut corners – if something doesn’t seem like its going to work – brainstorm the issue and come up with innovative ways to do the same thing. As I tell my kids there is always a way to the desired outcome. So, in other words, business intelligence and analytics come from the positive and complex aspects of business planning.