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Industry Leading Blog for Manufacturers

Feb 23, 2016
Scott Stamper

Datapenia

[da´tah-pe´ne-ah]

Absence, or lack, of good data and good analytics.

Or perhaps it should say lack of access to, and understanding of, good data and good analytics. Datapenia, a quasi-medical term coined by Dubner and Levitt in Superfreakonomics, drives good companies to make bad decisions. How do we know if we are targeting the best opportunities? Why do we keep overstating our pipeline? If we have so many sales people trained on CRM, why does it seem like so few are using it? 

Picture a Public Service Announcement for this dreaded condition:

Do you suffer from Datapenia? Do you find it daunting and uncomfortable when having too little data leaves you in the dark? Do your data analysts snicker behind your back as you make unfounded statements and unsubstantiated claims?

Datapenia – Causes

There are two primary contributors to Datapenia - poor Data and poor business intelligence.  Or to put it another way, it is an I|O problem, where poor data is on the input side and poor business intelligence is on the output side.

Poor data is usually a problem of stewardship, training, and technology. This is a huge topic, so I will get back to it another time. 

Poor Business Intelligence, on the other hand, comes from companies failing to build out a company-wide, well thought out System of Business Intelligence (SoBI).

Datapenia is a systemic problem. I often hear about pockets of good BI within a company. People will talk about a particularly good report, or a deeply insightful analyst. And the Excel skills I hear about - oh gosh, there are some wonderful Excel skills out there!

But at the end of the day, the need for good Business Intelligence (the output side) is not limited to a single division or group or even individual within a company. Rather, a SoBI emphasizes the need for good data (the Input side), communicated in a clear, precise, and value-driven format, and with clarity across the whole enterprise on how to use the results.

In case you missed it, I will repeat my definition for what I mean by a System of Business Intelligence.

A SoBI emphasizes the need for good data,

communicated in a clear, precise, and value-driven format,

and with clarity across the whole enterprise on how to use the results.

There is a lot to unpack here. And that is what the purpose of this blog series will be over the coming months. Enterprise organizations and manufacturing organizations are swimming in an ocean of data. Our experience across eLogic tells us that there is a lack of clarity in most organizations as to the best ways to use this data to help drive real, meaningful organizational change and improvement. Because we are an organization focused on Sales, Marketing, and Commerce in the manufacturing space, our SoBI thinking is focused on the same business needs.

I will drive this home with a SoBI response to one of the questions posed earlier - How do we know if we are targeting the best opportunities?

When a company is suffering from Datapenia, they might be able to offer some (hopefully accurate) insight into their pipeline. They might have a sense of if they do well in certain industries. And they might even have some understanding of their forecast. However, they will not have all of these in a cohesive and company-wide framework.

The SoBI answer to this question would offer the following:

  • Trustworthy Opportunity data that has quality measures in place around system usage and key field population. You should be able to trust the data.
  • Pre-defined and agreed upon pipeline metrics. Your organization's SoBI should reflect the best organizational thinking on what you want to measure, and how you want to measure it. If you want to measure team performance, you need the metrics to do it.
  • Visualizations that tell you how to read the metrics. Is a 14% conversion rate good or bad? Does this vary by industry or business segment? The visualizations should leave little ambiguity as to how to interpret the results.
  • And finally, next best steps! OK, so the numbers are a bit off. What can be done differently to help these numbers improve? That is the real goal of a SoBI - to drive increasingly better outcomes. When your BI drives better choices, behaviors, and business decisions, then your SoBI is really working!

Check back soon for more insight into how your organization can start fixing your bout of Datapenia!


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