Getting smarter about dealing with cause and effect
by Dale Vile and Martin Atherton
As markets become more complex and dynamic, is the traditional periodic and retrospective management reporting approach adequate for running the business, or do we need a rethink? This question is considered based on in-depth interviews with senior business managers from the rapidly moving and evolving financial services sector.
Continuous innovation and real time steering are needed in the face of change
Regulatory evolution and widespread automation have impacted together to drive a dramatic increase in the pace of business and the transparency with which it is carried out. Clients demand greater value and the level of competition has increased. Against this background, real world insights from 52 senior financial services professionals confirm that constant change in the way business is executed is now a given, and that continuous innovation and a more real-time approach to steering the business are increasingly required to compete effectively.
Cause and effect: a need to manage business drivers as well as financial outcomes
Today, monitoring and managing at the level of overall financial performance is considered to be most important. Significantly less emphasis is placed on tracking granular profitability measures at a client and product level. Furthermore, monitoring of operational drivers and external factors such as performance against the competition is particularly patchy across the financial services industry. However, the general consensus within the business management community is that firms must get smarter about dealing with the lower level drivers that impact higher level outcomes.
Yet smarter management is hampered by information availability and access issues
The challenge is that organisations are not geared up to provide the information required for granular monitoring and management of underlying performance drivers. Problems exist with the accuracy and completeness of information at a product, service, client, partner and competitive level, with the frequency and timeliness with which management information is delivered also being an issue. Senior business managers find it hard to cope with data fragmentation and many are drowning in superfluous detail while being starved of the relevant information they really need.
Information technology is both the cause of many problems and an important enabler
While technology may lie at the root of many of the issues explored, it can also provide a lot of the answers. The evidence is clear that capabilities such as dashboards, real-time alerts, exception reporting, interactive analysis tools and collaboration facilities have an important part to play.
But there is a clear imperative for business and IT professionals to collaborate further
While IT departments are considered to be performing well in general, business managers say they often fall short in delivering against management information needs. Both business and IT are responsible for closing this gap. Only by working together will genuine success be achieved in allowing real-time management of the business by controlling causes as well as effects.