First Step in the Journey Towards Becoming a Real-time Business

There is a lot of talk about Real-time data and how real-time data can provide organizations to be able to respond in near real-time to business events.

However, to realize such a vision, there is a lot that needs to change in the way we do business. One of the most basic thing that needs to change is how we run our business itself.

Most organizations currently operate in the mode where the decision making sits at the top of the hierarchy. We have a C-Suite where we have the Chief Executives, who decide the strategy and roll-it out for others in the organization to execute.

  • The strategy is designed by the C-suite and cascaded down for execution.
  • The KPI’s are defined (annually, in most cases) and cascaded down.
  • Bonus structures are defined (annually, in most cases) and cascaded down.

What this means is that there are multiple layers of management (depending on how big an organization is) before any true decisions are being made.

In a vision of a real-time enterprise, this needs to change completely.

The front-line employees, people who are interacting with your customers, partners, suppliers,

  • the sales executive who sells your products and competes with your competitor or
  • the support executive who supports your customers when something breaks down or
  • the engineer or product/service developer who designs and produces the products

are the one’s who get to know if something in your business environment has changed. They are the one’s who need to respond to these changes.

In order to realize the vision of a real-time enterprise, we need to be able to spend time training these people to identify such shifts and provide them the real-time information that organizations are capable of in a way that they can make sense out of the data and respond appropriately, without having to go through a series of approvals, et al.

What would help organizations become real-time would be:

  • Move from a pyramid shaped organization structure to a concentric circles shaped organization, where, the customer is at the core of the organization, surrounded by the customer facing employees (sales execs, support engineers, product development folks, etc). Each outward circle represents a layer of people who shall support these customer facing employees in serving the customers needs in the best way possible.
  • The core employees are trained in identifying trends and insights and create the strategy with the guidance from the other execs in the organizations.

This more like improv theater. Just like in a theater performance, the actors (in front of the customer) are the most important people when it comes to the audience (as they execute the vision of the writer and the director). Every one else is there to enhance or complete the experience.

So should organizations realize that the true heroes or stars for your customers are the folks who perform in front of them. The role of the others is of support cast and need to find, train the best actors and put them in the spotlight.

Also allowing the actors to improvise (if needed) has the potential to improve the overall experience for the audience substantially, similarly empowering your front line employees to improvise can improve the ability of the organization to adapt to any situation that they can come up with.

This will be the first step that an organization can take to move towards becoming a real-time enterprise.

This is not easy, but as people say – “Simple, but not easy”

PS: The best improv show that I have seen – “Whose Line is It Anyway”

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