As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.
- Benjamin Disraeli
By way of introduction, I should probably tell you that plowing through information gets me sort of excited. My wife will tell you that this is not normal. Maybe it’s a mutated gene that all analysts have. The only thing that might get me salivating even more is a really well-defined and documented process. My wife will tell you that this goes beyond not being normal and crosses into the realm of wonkish-ness. Show me something that puts information and process in harmony and you may see me go into some dervish like frenzy. Now you have the reason I got so excited with Kalido that I had to come be a part of it. Thankfully she doesn’t find that weird at all.
As a supply chain industry analyst my stock-in-trade was information. It was both the information I found and the information I created. Our clients always counted on that information to be focused, accurate and actionable. In other words, the analyst mines mountains of information for those nuggets of insight that help clients out-succeed their competitors.
Sadly, one of the frequent insights was that many clients suffered from poorly structured processes to create, manage, and consume the information that is so critical to their business processes and businesses. Some of the symptoms? Phantom inventories – those that are supposed to be in one place but are in another, inconsistent demand forecasts and market cues missed because multiple channels of information are not correlated to identify patterns. Translating this into just one operational example, safety stocks – those excess inventories that are in place to ensure on shelf availability of an item when demand is not well understood – can bloat inventory costs by 10-20%. Lead times, order cycles, inventory policies and forecast accuracy are all determinants of this cost generator and all are data and process centric.
By comparison, some of the companies who really focused on the process of improving information – data governance – are taking millions in costs out of their businesses. They are doing this through manufacturer-specific actions like reducing inventories, shrinking warehousing footprints and associated real estate and operating costs and improving information visibility (and accuracy) with trading partners. They also recognize that critical business processes are often cross enterprise, with multiple points where information can be corrupted. To ensure operational predictability they design processes that reflect their policies for data creation, management and consumption-a practice that is applicable for any industry. The net result is that some can shrink cash-to-cash cycles, inventory and operating costs and improving liquidity.
Generally these companies succeeded here because at the very top there was recognition that information is a corporate asset and the process by which it is created, managed and consumed creates quantifiable operational benefit. From what I saw, I couldn’t agree more with Disraeli that the most successful companies out there are the ones who have the best information. The caveat is that they also know that accurate, accessible and consumable information is an outcome of governing information and process holistically. This is their engine for continuous improvement.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
- Benjamin Franklin
Gosh, it just occurred to me that these two Bens would have made great Kalido sales people. They do seem to understand the value of good information. And if for no other reason than you being a part of this blogger community, I’ll assume that you see that same value in the process of improving information. In some cases you may be looking for examples or anecdotes that will help your corner office make the process of improving information a priority. As I join the Kalido blogger community, I’ll focus on mining for those nuggets that help you make that case. Selfishly, it’s important to us that you do.
My wife just stuck her head in the office and said that she wants me to get online and look at a camera lens that she’s considering. Her mistake. Hopefully she’s emotionally prepped for the three-hour deep dive into reviews, specifications, sample images and pricing comparison that she’ll endure tonight. Surely she knows. I’m not normal. I’m an information wonk at heart.