Analytics and the art of management


Posted by Ben Stiller on March 9, 2017

Analytics, including cognitive technologies, is taking hold in every functional area of business, and in industries ranging from aerospace to tech, media, and telecom. But there’s one area where analytics is just starting to gain momentum. What if analytics could offer insights to executives so that their days could be more engaging, productive, and outcome-oriented? The next significant breakthroughs will be in time management, team collaboration, and performance tracking—and it’s not that far away.

Today, top executives spend just over six hours a day answering email or texts, sitting in meetings, or participating in conference calls.1 Surprisingly, the technologies used most often—email, word processing, and presentation tools—haven’t changed very much since they were first introduced.

Meanwhile, analytics is being used to inform decision-making throughout the organization. Why not apply analytics and cognitive technologies at the most human level to schedules and meetings, where daily decisions have the potential to make-or-break the ability of the enterprise to meet its objectives?

Make for a more effective day

Imagine starting each day with a cup of coffee and a look at a visual dashboard that provides insight into your daily schedule. What are your mission-critical action items? Struggling to choose between two engagements? Scenario analysis could provide insight into the probable outcomes and align executive calendars by priorities. What duties could be delegated and which ones should you handle yourself? Algorithms based on text analysis might provide alerts when it’s time to check in on the progress of a team project and coach it through to the finish line.  Cognitive tools could even take over routine actions and adapt to individual leadership styles.

Going into a customer meeting? Instead of a slide deck, analytics could power a digital playbook, complete with an agenda, data-driven insight into the topics being discussed, desired outcomes, and action items—all alleviate time spent in meeting preparation. It’s possible; in fact, we’re already seeing this concept start to play out in the market. Imagine sales executives meeting with store buyers and providing them real-time recommendations on how much product they should order to stock their shelves in any given week. Metrics showing not only past performance, but like sales figures from other area stores, deliver previously untapped value in just a few clicks.

Manage teams to outcomes

Back in the office? A recent Deloitte study for Facebook confirms that new digital tools will change the way we communicate and collaborate with colleagues as well, with 76 percent of executives surveyed predicting a move away from email and toward more sophisticated digital tools.2 It will be here before you know it. The study states that 72 percent of respondents also see virtual teaming capabilities as becoming significant and normative in the next five years.

In large companies with many layers, leaders are managing networks of employees with greater transparency, and having the tools to communicate and collaborate more effectively is critical. C-suite executives will increasingly place more focus on facilitating the flow and exchange of ideas and providing greater autonomy at team and individual levels.

This shift in roles presents yet another opportunity for analytics to provide information to leaders into how their teams are tracking and the insight to guide them toward achieving objectives. The tools are already being developed. Dashboards for state child support services agents, juggling hundreds of cases, prioritize the day’s work so they can reach goals and help the families that need it most. With views into performance, case workers feel a sense of accomplishment at the difference they are making in the lives of kids, and supervisors can lend the appropriate amount of support and collaboration to both improve their collection rates and the long-term success of families. Finally, there’s a way to make true impact on a bigger scale—all based on drawing up new views into prioritization and collaboration.

The organizational data is available, and the analytics technology is real; developing practical, intuitive tools on a broader scale is all that remains. Isn’t it time to transform the one-minute executive into the insight-driven executive?


1 How Leaders Spend Their Day. Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness.
2Transitioning to the future of work and the workplace

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