November 2018, article published originally in El Periódico de Catalunya

Data, ‘mon amour’

He looks at his watch and shouts: Damn it! I didn’t make it today either. 2543. It should be minimum 3500. That’s my goal. I have to walk more. More steps, better health. 3500 steps a day, minimum, to be in good physical shape. I heard these comments at the airport. Their watch tells them what they have to do every day, and not for managing their time (at 12:00 I have to be here or there), but their steps, their heart rate, the level of glucose in their sweat. What do I know . . . Everyone has to decide how they want to live and there are people that live like that: subject to their watch (others depend on their mother-in-law, their brother-in-law or their corner hairdresser, who happens to be very cute).

This dynamic, referring to control over the human body, is very useful for understanding an idea that is lacking in a lot of companies, especially SMEs. We are going to have more and more data every day. The same technology that helps us to count our heartbeats or steps, presenting it to us in an attractive way with a small dashboard of our body’s performance, is going to gain more visibility in businesses. Because in the same way we ask Siri or Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?, or, what’s the shortest route from Plasencia del Monte to Antequera?, we can also formulate questions like: what’s the projected cash flow for this month and next based on sales? And the contraption will tell us. We’ll see it in real time, contextualized. Technology exists to – with all that data – elaborate dashboards that help us make decisions.

Those companies who invest in having quality data and use it intelligently to make decisions will clearly surpass their competitors

We have to consider a basic reflection: what we don’t measure can’t be controlled and what we don’t control can’t be managed. Ergo, if we don’t measure, we don’t manage. And this continues to happen in companies, especially small and medium-sized ones. Decisions are made without having all the necessary information. Maybe you hit the nail on the head. Or maybe you nail your finger. Those companies, the ones that act in the dark (without data and dashboards) and from the shadow of ignorance, are going to suffer in the short term. Because those who invest in having quality data and use it intelligently to make decisions will clearly surpass their competitors.

And an interesting debate opens up besides. Data, via dashboards, will play a greater and greater role because it will learn from the managers who consult it, showing them information that is attractive for them. Yes, Netflix style, providing you with content according to what you’ve watched (they acknowledge that 60% of their users select and continue watching what the machine suggests, like, addiction-I-can’t-disconnect). So technically, there isn’t any reason why the systems of those companies with good data can’t start proposing to the heads of operations more and more graphics on how monthly deliveries are going, in each zone under their control, by time frame, delivery company, postal code… Data, mon amour, is only the beginning. Are you ready for dashboards that learn from our likes?