Editorial Opinion: Sharing the view at the top

Few CEOs are not well informed about their businesses. When vendors promote business intelligence as a tool to be better informed, they aren’t talking about CEOs. CEOs have staff assembling critical information for them from the many sources scattered throughout the enterprise. No, it is staff members who are not well informed, who only see their part of the big picture.

Why is this so? One reason is that a company’s IT infrastructure has created those much talked about islands or silos of data. A second reason is that people are reluctant to change from something that is familiar and seems to them to be working well enough. In this issue with its theme of applying customer and market data, you will find several references to change management issues. A third reason goes beyond that to requiring a change which is often contrary to one’s natural survival inclinations: sharing what you know.

And why is not seeing the whole picture a bad thing? It goes back to that story about one worker only aware of laying bricks on top of each other day in and day out and another worker seeing himself as helping to build a cathedral. Who is more motivated to make a greater contribution? Somewhere I learned that the word team is an apt acronym for together everyone accomplishes more. For that to be true, team members must be informed.

In my studies of companies from inside and out, I’ve been amazed at how some limp along with information directed only vertically with the hierarchy and not horizontally among peers. An illustration of this where one hand does not know what the other one is doing occurred when my son turned 18 in September. We live in Ontario so he became eligible to vote in the provincial election. To our surprise, his name was not on the list of voters and yet he got a questionnaire to determine his suitability for jury duty.

We now have an ample supply of software and service providers from which one can cautiously and prudently select appropriate tools and partners to converge those separate streams of data and create a fertile delta of information. It is not just a matter of dollars that stop companies from making such investments. It is also the struggle to change in an uncertain environment and share one’s resources when feeling threatened. Edmonton-based All Weather Windows and other companies profiled in this issue are proof that mastering that struggle can boost competitiveness, opportunity and profit.