What I hope to do better in 2013: leverage BI and research to gain competitive advantage

It is that time of year when many C level executives are taking stock of what has been a very eventful twelve months across many industries. Running a technology company  that can be committed to the dead pool in as little as two business quarters by a rapidly changing landscape, we too took  that time out to see if what we had predicted for 2012 actually did happen and if not, what was the cause of the deviation.

Rather than dwell on the successes that we enjoyed having got some bets right, I would much rather highlight what we discovered as our achilles’ heel and are moving to remedy with the hope others invested in the same space will learn and grow.

Research and real-time business intelligence were a weak point. On the research front, it still proves difficult to conduct conclusive and in-depth research on large enough sample size to derive what would be considered sufficient data to inform product or service direction. Finger to the wind methods and gut feel have no place especially when seeking capital infusion for continued development. Notwithstanding, firms that would address this research need well, are yet to become visible. I find it important to have a second pair of eyes and ears listen to the need that you are looking to address, digest it and collaboratively figure out how to prove assumptions and develop use cases. That said, we have found having business networks that go beyond our “Silicon Strip” comfort zone  in other towns and increasingly other  African countries by virtue of participating in various  industry forums  is helping us slowly refine our in-house capability for a different flavor of research and development.

The need for real-time business intelligence came to the fore as the need to measure important metrics grew with tighter budget controls knowing the season that we are going into and the uncertainty presented by the coming elections. There are always independent sources of information and the challenge was how to collect, filter and finally stitch together different scenarios in real time. Whether it was what other tech firms playing the same field were up to, changes in mobile network operator strategies, human resource musical chairs in the industry and government  that may open new opportunities and close others, to what’s happening in the global tech scene; is a lot of information to work with and make sense of. The better we get at deciphering the signals from the noise, the better our forecasting, lead generation, adaptability and innovation becomes.

For us it is clearly less about the technology we are deploying and more about supercharging the complimentary elements that will  deliver the numbers and growth that we seek.

Take time out and look at your operations and distill those elements that if improved on will give that much needed competitive advantage, you may be surprised it’s not a technology issue.

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.

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