Dashboard – Cockpit – Autopilot: the Evolution of Smart
Once upon a time, business intelligence (BI) reports only came on paper, months after the facts, and as read-only. In the CRM realm BI reported on underperforming sales campaigns, failing retention efforts, and the increasing costs of service. Boosted by enterprise wide data consolidation efforts (data warehousing) data quality and access improved and BI slowly got interactive. It became possible to ‘slice & dice’ customer data fast enough to not turn it into an IT project as was common in the dark ages of information management… How many widgets did we offer through the call center in October and what was the accept rate? I’ll tell you in a few weeks (no kidding). But now, answers were available within minutes or faster. BI, in many cases, went near real-time and thus became a corporate dashboard rather than a stack of paper.
Good news? Only partly. How useful is insight if you can’t act on it? Better than nothing, admitted, but a source of frustration at the same time. So the accept rate for widgets fell 15% in October in our most precious Affluent segment… Great that we know this already by November 1st, but what could have prevented the drop? Could we have stopped it during the drop? Could we have known before we launched the campaign in the first place? For some companies, BI has already changed from a dashboard to a cockpit. Not only do those companies have gauges to monitor a multitude of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), they also have levers for instant operational change… Campaign not working so well? Let’s see what happens if we decrease the price of widgets by 5%; or route the offers through better trained agents; or increase the banner size for widgets on the website. Insight now turns into action, a dashboard into a cockpit. Why wait for November to see results and then try again in December.
Good news? Only partly. Sure, it’s gratifying to see the enterprise turn right the moment the steering wheel turns right, but only if right is indeed the direction to go. Levers are powerful, but only when coupled with radar or other means to look ahead. Some companies now have the means to simulate their customer strategies to their full extent, across the full customer base and on actual data, before they are being deployed. What would have happened if we had decreased the price for widgets in October? Would it have compensated for the 15% drop in sales? What about credit risk? In answering such questions the CRM cockpit now gets outfitted with a flight simulator.
Dashboards are becoming common place. Cockpits are now feasible and available for those companies that have automated both their processes and their decisions. Flight simulators make their first appearance. There’s one further innovation yet to be launched, one safer way to fly a company. That’s where CRM cockpits, in some areas, get outfitted with autopilots. Smart decision engines that learn automatically from what worked and what didn’t work, figure out the patterns, and adapt automatically. That’s the promise of Adaptive BPM, a way to auto-calibrate processes and optimize the business in flight. It took two decades to get from paper reports to dashboards, a few more years to move from dashboards to cockpits. Business autopilots are around the corner.