Your SMB leadership team (small to mid-sized business) is targeting success. Your company’s ability to execute strategy is critical to the sustainability of your company. Still, your team struggles with making sound decisions.
Today’s globally competitive business ecosystem requires everyone in your company, including your leadership team, to leverage digitally discoverable information in their decision-making. Data, analytics and insights permit your business to compete.
Does your SMB leadership team leverage digital insights when creating business strategy? Or is your team still largely relying on anecdotal, experiential “hunches”? Does your workforce leverage digital insights in their execution of strategy? Or are they waiting to be told what to do next?
Your SMB Leadership Team holds the keys to the future economy.
In sheer numbers, your SMB leadership team and your workforce are critical components for a viable US economy, according to a Wall Street Journal article featuring a Forbes article. That’s my personal soapbox as well: the key to economic recovery and development firmly rests in the growth, expansion and sustainability of SMBs: your small to mid-size businesses.
About 5.7 million small businesses have employees, and private companies account for between 56% and 63% of America’s GDP. Small business employs about half the people in the workforce, and account for about 86% of companies with 500 or more employees, according to Forbes. Small business is big business.
However, this isn’t a numbers game. Your business sustainability isn’t a given. Rather, SMB viability and competitiveness is based on whether your company leverages data, analytics and insights in decision-making regarding your customers, operational best practices, your business model and how well you serve your marketplace.
Where does this information come from? Well, are you or aren’t you a data-driven SMB?
Is your SMB leadership team data competent and insightful?
Becoming a data-driven organization involves more than periodically reporting on accounts receivable or looking at a list representing your pending project pipeline. You’ve put your information in folders. These data are sequestered in departmental data silos. No sharing, no collaboration, no insights.
Your company may be data incompetent.
Your competitors’ SMB leadership teams, as well as their workforces, are becoming increasingly more digitally competent. They are taking a wall-to-wall, multidisciplinary approach to thoroughly understanding how they provide business value to their customers. Their customers are on the receiving end of their data-driven approach to executing strategy.
Their methodology for becoming digitally-competent and data-driven? Combining quantitative and qualitative strategy: Big Data, predictive analytics and cognitive computing with execution via team collaboration.
The ball is in your SMB leadership team’s court. Their first initiative? Build a data competent organization by thinking outside of professional disciplines and departmental silos. When data is shared, instead of hoarded, IT infrastructure and access to data become your organizational common denominators. As your organization becomes more data-comfortable and data-competent, insights from analytics begin to catalyze decision-making.
Why does your SMB Leadership Team remain digitally-disconnected instead of data-driven?
Reality check time. The dynamics of many SMB businesses, and their leadership teams, are dedicated to preserving historical hierarchies. Business models are dictated by organizational charts which desperately need updating.
Many very small businesses (VSB) have a SMB leadership team of one individual, who may be less-than-confident. These companies have inadequate business models, focused on titles and job descriptions instead of core competencies. These VSB have nonexistent or inconsistent business processes. “Warm body” hiring practices employ a willing but under-skilled workforce, with little opportunity for continuing education.
Regardless of scenario, the leadership teams are stuck in the status quo. They remain digitally disconnected from each other, their employees and their customers. At best, their workplace cultures are characterized by data-hoarding instead of data sharing.
The bottom line: becoming a data-driven organization is perceived as disruptive. Realistically, how long will that mindset sustain your business?
The New SMB Business Paradigm is led by digitally-connected leadership teams.
Today’s digitally-connected business ecosystem is based on data-driven, digitally-connected customer-supplier relationships. These are the table stakes underpinning the sustainability of your small to mid-size business model.
Your SMB leadership team is challenged by this digitally-driven, changing business paradigm. You are uncomfortable about whether your current strategy is data-driven enough, your organizational structure is collaborative enough and your workforce is skilled enough to serve the demands of current and future customers.
Perhaps today is the day your SMB leadership team decides to wrestle with these challenges. If you don’t, your competitors will.
What skill sets and organizational competencies are required to give your SMB leadership team a “fresh face” and a fresh strategy for becoming a data-driven business? How will you execute your strategy to fill in those competency gaps, creating opportunities for your company to become more competitive?
Babette N. Ten Haken is a strategist, analyst, author and blogger. Her focus: the interrelationship between teams, leadership and culture in technology and manufacturing. Her Workshops target excellence in the execution of strategy in data-driven environments. Babette began her career in clinical research where she was asked to bring clarity to stalemated cross-functional conversations. Her Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.
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