When was the last time you were in the market?

This is not a question for a sales professional alone. It’s as pertinent to a CEO, a business head, a manager and a functional leader. When did you last see your product or service in action… actually being sold to or used by your consumer?

“Show me the data!” This is often heard in top management meetings and boardrooms. In fact, data today is being valued, evaluated, dissected and analysed much more than ever before. Advancements in technology have led to a very promising new field of data analytics – Big Data. Most companies are trying to get as much data as possible about consumers to improve their understanding and accordingly devise their business strategies. There are a multitude of channels from where data is picked up including online databases, social media, sales figures, surveys, mystery shopping visits, feedback calls etc. There are a matching number of tools, algorithms and analytical softwares to distill this data, and make sense out of it for managers to convert it into some actionables.

However, despite this deluge of data and analytics, companies are finding it more challenging than before to keep their customers happy and to create sustainable profitable businesses. It is not a guarantee that the availability of data will result in managers being able to get real actionable insights which are then implemented to reach desired outcomes. Somewhere (in larger companies usually), a disproportionately high level of importance and dependence is given to structured, process-based data collection and analysis. This has led to middle and top management becoming distant and physically detached from the real market and consumers – the front line.

Numbers can be presented to support a mostly rosy picture too though, and often large companies don’t realise when things are going wrong. They struggle with the gaps between what is decided at the top level and the actual implementation of that decision on-ground. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to predict the success of new products as well as achievement of business objectives. Although companies are working on new innovative initiatives to better serve the customers, they may have overlooked existing customers who are feeling dissatisfied with either the product or service, its delivery or after sales support.

It is critical therefore for middle and senior management to stay rooted and not lose touch with the ground realities. Go to your market and see it for yourself first hand! Do not depend solely on data pouring into your e-mail inbox. The insights and learning that you could get by engaging with the front end of business – be it a retail store, an airline seat, a door-step delivery or a mobile connectivity complaint – interacting with your customers and understanding their real issues is invaluable and irreplaceable. This layer of human intelligence added to data analytics is the essential ingredient that often helps top management to make the right decisions.

To book a session for members of your organisation on how to be a Successful Leader and other management mantras, contact us at stalwar@flyvisionconsulting.com.

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