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By Sharryn Napier, and VP and Regional Director, ANZ,
Ever since Prime Minister Malcolm Turn bull endorsed an “ideas boom” for the Australian economy complete with $1b budget to encourage the drive towards innovation, the question has been ‘how?’
The innovation agenda has been focused on the encouragement of investment, creating fertile grounds for ideas to grow into measur able results and transform into jobs. The government is focusing on startups as the means for pioneering new pathways for the economy to strengthen itself upon.
Startups have been called a ‘state of mind,’ designed to scale quickly by using innovation and sacrificing stability. Bold ideas with traction work; innovative firms are 60% more likely to report increased sales and profitability1. Australians have not been adverse to innovation either. Australia’s total entrepreneurial activity was estimated to be 13.1 percent of the adult population in 20142 which is amongst the highest of developed economies. Innovation is a process that is embodied in the creation of a startup, yet may occur in all firms seeking to gain competitive advantage and boost efficiency.
It is great news for the economy but yet, with so many innovators coming to the fore, what can they do to make sure that they are gaining the competitive edge over other companies and really thriving in their industry? I believe access to real-time, responsive and timely data is the answer.
Behind Every Successful Company is Intelligent Visual Analytics
After all, knowledge is power – and companies attempting to innovate must learn to adapt their business models to leverage the sheer volume of data that they mine internally and externally on a day-to-day basis. As the business world evolves, the need for up-to-date data will continue to explode as innovators find they have to be able to keep up with the latest industry events and market changes if they are to deliver real value and remain relevant to their customers.
The best use of visual analytics allows companies to make profound, strategic changes that minimize costs and maximize results. The information already exists; the opportunities to harness it are what produce real innovation.
Fostering Collaboration with the Right Platform
Nevertheless, the key challenges start-ups face in a fast-moving business world is lack of manpower, capacity and funds. Therefore, in order to upgrade, expand and restructure, management teams must be smart about their investment into the technology they choose if they really want it to have the potential to drive sustained positive change for their business.
Investing in a genuinely self-service analytics solution is the best way forward for companies undergoing digital transformation. After all, if they can access data themselves, then it will empower users to go in directly and understand what is happening both internally and externally to their business. And the right data analytics platform Willey user-friendly and simple enough so teams can manage and visualise their own data into different formats of charts and graphs so they can readily understand what’s happening – and without needing to involve the IT department whenever they want information.
In addition, the plat forma startup chooses should also enhance collaboration across the team. In a highly mobile world, this means that all users must be able to access the same set of data in real-time through their handheld or desktop devices. In line with this, users on should also be able to seamlessly share screens, hold discussions and add their own set of data into the conversation for joint analysis. Doing this gives the business more agility so that, whether employees are working remotely or from a serviced-office, data will be accessible to them at any time – thus, eliminating the need for firms to hire more office space than is required to effectively run the business.
The Business of Analytics and Intelligent Data
When it finally boils down to the actual analytics, most businesses defer to the status quo of viewing data – which is to look at results returned based on direct queries. For example, a Director wishing to understand ice cream sales during May to July would only see data for that outlined period. Whilst proving to be valuable data to the Sales Director, precious insights would be left undiscovered as no ‘peripheral’ data is considered alongside these direct results.
Peripheral data is critical tounlocking the power of visual analytics, especially under the scrutiny of a collective set of minds. For example, the same Sales Director examining sales data with his regional counterparts may find a correlation between ice cream sales and weather patterns simply because data on weather was analysed alongside ice cream sales data.
As a team, they could then discover a number of insights that would help drive their marketing and customer outreach strategy – for example if ice-cream sales fall on an exceptionally hot day, they might, hypothetically, come to the conclusion that people are preferring to stay in the cool at home, rather than braving the heat. That counters the perception that the hotter the weather, the more ice-cream sells. And that’s an understanding one startup might have that their competitors don’t.
Visual analytics and the right management of information can bring enormous value to start-ups that are looking for an efficient way to grow their organization.
Whilst it is challenging to place a price on competitive advantage, its ability to propel startups to a global contender is indeed a powerful tool. The ability to differentiate from competitors by working on a more efficient level is essential, not merely because of rivals in the local Australian market, but also because in an increasingly globalised context, a firm is measured against an international spectrum of peers. With so many market offerings, a business must equip itself with the best assets at their disposal.
Harnessing the power of data, creating actionable intelligence at the click of a mouse and sharing those insights in a user-friendly format is a massive advantage for a small business which may not have the volume of manpower and resource that a larger business would have the benefit of.
Hence, business owners and management teams must be open to a new way of reviewing the volumes of data available to them in order to see the whole story, and make intelligent decisions that bring the strongest value to their customers.
1Australian Innovation Systems Report 2015
2The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Study, 2014