17 Jan 2019
By Paul Cheshire, Private Business, PwC Scotland
Statistics about how much data we create on a daily basis are in constant need of updating as the exponential growth of this modern-day gold continues at a staggering rate. For businesses however it is not about how much data you hold, but what you do with it that matters. Paul Cheshire of PwC Scotland works with a number of different private businesses and tells us how valuable management information is, how it can be a competitive advantage to companies and what PwC Scotland can do to help businesses in Scotland improve on this.
Paul, why are insights important to business?
For any business to make informed decisions the decision-makers need insight. They need to understand the business’ current position when working on strategy and goals. They need to be able to measure performance in a way that allows them to determine if they are achieving their goals and if not what they need to change. And they want all of this to be done on a timely basis.
But insights is not only important at the board level. Decisions are required throughout a business from top down and from bottom up. All of these decisions should be based on the best available data. How do you make sure the head of the sales team has implemented the best incentive arrangement for his team? How do you identify the machine that isn’t achieving the same yield as the others? How are you sure that you are spending your marketing budget the right way to achieve the best return on investment? How do you make sure you are managing your identified risks correctly?
Most businesses think they have the data they need to operate why would they need more?
The speed of change when it comes to technology is frightening. The ability to make quick decisions is ever more important and the old saying of ‘you don’t want to be left behind’ is ever more relevant.
So my challenge to those businesses that say they have all the information they need is how quickly are you able to make decisions? How much effort is involved in getting to the answer you want and how confident are you with the answer you get? My expectation is that regardless of the industry you are in data and insight will become increasingly important in how you run your business with the ultimate goal of working with real-time data. The days of monthly reports will be no more!
How can PwC help businesses with its Management Information (MI)?
In order to maximise your data and the insights you get from it you need to know what exactly it is you want. What is the key information that will help you be best-informed when running your business?
The PwC Business Insights tool helps you to do exactly that. It is a diagnostic tool that identifies exactly where you are as an organisation in terms of the data you have / use against the information you want. It helps make sure you are clear on what information is key in making the important decisions and whether or not it is possible to collate and analyse that information out of your systems. It helps you identify what you might need to do if there are gaps and to consider what tools are available to reach your desired insights outcome. It’s step one in maximising your insights for the benefit of your business.
How could businesses in Scotland benefit from the tool?
The tool could be beneficial to any business in Scotland. Food and drink, biotechnology and tourism are just some of the industries that are key to Scottish economy. We give some examples of MI in these industries:
Food and drink - The Scottish food and drinks sector is committed to ‘Ambition 2030’, which is a Government target to double turnover in the sector to £30bn by 2030. Sustainability, recruitment and diversification are all some of the things that are key to achieving the ambition and having appropriate data in a useable form in place will help companies plan for the future and react quickly to changes in the market.
Life sciences - Scotland has more than 700 life sciences companies making it one of the largest hubs in Europe. The speed at which companies bring new drugs/products to the market is critical for competing in the industry. Like any other, Scottish companies hold huge volumes of data, and therefore need robust management information systems to handle this data and maximise its value.
Tourism – Airbnb shook up the tourism market and the market continues to change. Management information is essential for Scottish tourism companies to enhance their offering. Consumer experience is becoming even more important to compete in the market and using up-to-date management information will be essential for looking at which processes can be changed to improve consumer experience.