Only twenty years ago it was still mainstream practice for a manager to dictate a memo to their secretary, who would then type it up, put it in an internal envelope and take it to the post room for circulation around the company. The time between message despatch and receipt back then would now seem impossibly slow when compared to how quickly today's managers can fire off emails and elicit nearly instant responses from global colleagues.
Time and technology have moved on. However, some old habits still persist in many organisations to this day, such as a continuing reliance on guesswork for important business decisions. Why, we ask ourselves? Despite generating a wealth of data, it is a known fact that some companies still lack the necessary business intelligence tools, know-how or sense of urgency to harness it to their advantage.
In times of economic prosperity, it was easier to make choices and alter course based on a combination of experience and gut feel. But then the world as we knew it changed, and as businesses rides out the tail of the financial crisis, they are expected to react faster and be more accountable, the cost of poor decisions having a direct impact on their business.
Across today's enterprises, managers are increasingly required to provide accurate measures of results and evidence to support decisions. This justifies investments and doing more of 'what works' and less of 'what doesn't' and provides rationales for the tough, unpopular decisions such as budget cuts or job losses.
It's about more than transparency - taking an intuition-based rather than informed approach to business can leave a company trailing in its competitors' wake. The speed with which an organisation can adapt to changing circumstances and volatile conditions slows to a crawl when decisions are largely a matter of opinion, estimation and debate.
Proven technologies like SAP Crystal Solutions turn data into business insight to guide all kinds of companies towards a clearer and more confident course of action, accelerating the pace of business. So there will no doubt come a day when we'll regard "finger in the air" decision-making in the same way as internal memos - a quaint relic of a less informed era.
Instead organisations will look at events differently, just like our data-loving customers and users of SAP Crystal Solutions, Opta. For them a football match isn't only about the glory of a cracking decisive penalty goal by Didier Drogba. It's about recording every single tackle, cross, chance and goal leading up to it. The insights gathered from the sports database they've built are relied on by bookmakers, media publishers, broadcasters and even football clubs assessing their performance or the business case for a new player. No club today would base their decision to part with the hundreds of millions players command based on a gut feel.
Do people in your company base business decisions on gut feel or facts? Sign up to lovehatedata.com to share your experiences and follow the debate.