Data – if I knew then what I know now

Ruth Smith
April 23, 2019

Some of the worst management decisions in business history have been made at companies with huge market share. It is difficult to ruin a company with a single decision but not all decisions are created equal. Kodak and Motorola management missed huge shifts in their industries until it was too late. Kodak held the patent for digital cameras long before they were massed produced but made the decision not to invest in the technology for fear it would undercut sales of its film business.  Motorola held a 22% market share in mobile phones in 2006 with the success of their stylish Razr cellphone but they failed to launch a new generation of smartphones. By the time the company released a new line of Razr phones in 2010, Motorola had to compete with products such as the BlackBerry and iPhone. The Apple iPhone entered the market in 2007 with a 17% market share while Motorola saw its stock price plummet.  

When you contrast the decision making used by Kodak and Motorola, companies today have a bigger weapon at their disposal – data. Big data can provide numbers backed by insights on consumer behavior and can play a critical role in helping startups and established companies in areas like marketing, advertising, operations, inventory management and customer service. When you couple the intelligence of big data with predictive insights, the ability to make informed decisions becomes more powerful. Big data has been instrumental in predicting behavioral patterns and is experiencing a growth in popularity. Even startups who have limited marketing budgets are leveraging data to target the strongest possible audience before they spend money in developing a product or taking a new product to market.  

One of the trends moving into 2017 is the move to predictive analytics. Traditionally, analytics have followed action. For years, companies have used internal and external data to assess customer behavior and adapt their businesses. This has mostly been through the use of reactive analytics - the rearview window approach. Predictive analytics tells you what might happen in the future so that you can better understand customers, partners and identify potential risks and opportunities. The use of predictive analytics is growing. According to a recent report ty TopoBlog, predictive analytics is one of the hottest technology trends with almost 37% of high-growth companies investing in this field over the next twelve months.

So here are a few trends for you to consider within your company, regardless of your industry or company size:

  • Analytics trends will be real time, alleviating the need to wait weeks or months to have tangible information to drive decision making in your business. Companies are using real time data to assess trends from ER wait-times to Uber satisfaction scores. What questions could you ask that your data can answer now?
  • The emphasis on data will accelerate the need for skills around integration, data science, analytics as well as presentation skills demonstrating what your data is showing. If your company hasn’t invested in these areas, maybe you should investigate before your competition does.  
  • What questions would you want to answer if you had a crystal ball regarding the future of your company? Companies need to reprogram their thinking to what they want to solve versus what did they do yesterday? Most investors are well aware of the SEC’s warning that past performance isn't an indicator offuture performance so do you want to run your business the same way?

Kodak and Motorola bet on consumer preferences staying the same and did not anticipate the shift in their industries. What if they had had the ability to use data in a way that was more predictive? We will never know the outcome for them but don’t let your company be left saying if I knew then what I know now.

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