Every day, business leaders are called upon to make decisions that can directly impact the profitability and sustainability of their enterprises. Now more than ever, it is important to make decisions based on actual information and data, not just intuition and guesswork.
While it is easy to rely on intuition and perception, especially if you have experienced success in the past, today’s marketplace is changing at such a rapid pace that traditional competitive advantages can quickly become marginalized – or disappear completely. Decision makers, most especially in the financial industry, must have a handle on both the internal and external factors that affect their businesses. Accessible and affordable technology exists to provide the information you need to make not just “good” decisions for your company, but the best, most sustainable, and most profitable decisions.
Internal business intelligence covers a broad range of data that impacts your company from within: costs and revenues, profitability of your individual clients and customers, trends in your business pipeline, and referral networks. If this critical data is currently captured only in numerous Excel spreadsheets, or in accounting software that is only visible to a few key employees, these disparate systems will prevent you from getting the big picture of your company’s past, present, and forecasted financial health.
Do you know who your current customers are? Do you track your marketing efforts to measure their effectiveness? Do you have customers who cost you more in time and resources than they pay you in fees?
Do you know who your current prospects are? How long would it take to you to pull a complete list of all of your prospective clients, along with their collective demographics, and where each stands in your sales cycle?
Do you track your marketing efforts to measure their effectiveness? What return on investment are you getting from events, sponsorships, and digital marketing?
Do you have clients who cost you more in time and resources than they pay you in fees? Are you measuring the ‘total cost’ of every one of your firm’s client relationships?
Although we typically think we “know” the answers to these questions, robust systems exist to track this information, allowing for completely informed decisions.
External business intelligence, or competitive intelligence, provides a context for every key decision you make as a leader. No company operates in a vacuum, but within parameters that are often dictated by others in the same industry or sector. Your current competitive intelligence may be limited to occasional news stories, industry gossip, or blog posts on a website. But meaningful, systematic competitive intelligence can inform the decisions you make for your own enterprise, helping you navigate both potential opportunities and risks.
Identify the key competitors in your space, and build digital alerts that keep you informed on both a company and industry level. What formerly required many hours and expensive fees to create can now quickly and affordably be accessed on your phone or computer with your morning cup of coffee.