by Dale Vile and Martin Atherton
As markets become more complex and dynamic, is the traditional periodic
and retrospective management reporting approach adequate for running
the business, or do we need a rethink? This question is considered
based on in-depth interviews with senior business managers from the
rapidly moving and evolving financial services sector.
Continuous innovation and real time steering are needed in the face of change
Regulatory evolution and widespread automation have impacted together
to drive a dramatic increase in the pace of business and the
transparency with which it is carried out. Clients demand greater value
and the level of competition has increased. Against this background,
real world insights from 52 senior financial services professionals
confirm that constant change in the way business is executed is now a
given, and that continuous innovation and a more real-time approach to
steering the business are increasingly required to compete effectively.
Cause and effect: a need to manage business drivers as well as financial outcomes
Today, monitoring and managing at the level of overall financial
performance is considered to be most important. Significantly less
emphasis is placed on tracking granular profitability measures at a
client and product level. Furthermore, monitoring of operational
drivers and external factors such as performance against the
competition is particularly patchy across the financial services
industry. However, the general consensus within the business management
community is that firms must get smarter about dealing with the lower
level drivers that impact higher level outcomes.
Yet smarter management is hampered by information availability and access issues
The challenge is that organisations are not geared up to provide
the information required for granular monitoring and management of
underlying performance drivers. Problems exist with the accuracy and
completeness of information at a product, service, client, partner and
competitive level, with the frequency and timeliness with which
management information is delivered also being an issue. Senior
business managers find it hard to cope with data fragmentation and many
are drowning in superfluous detail while being starved of the relevant
information they really need.
Information technology is both the cause of many problems and an important enabler
While technology may lie at the root of many of the issues explored, it
can also provide a lot of the answers. The evidence is clear that
capabilities such as dashboards, real-time alerts, exception reporting,
interactive analysis tools and collaboration facilities have an
important part to play.
But there is a clear imperative for business and IT professionals to collaborate further
While IT departments are considered to be performing well in
general, business managers say they often fall short in delivering
against management information needs. Both business and IT are
responsible for closing this gap. Only by working together will genuine
success be achieved in allowing real-time management of the business by
controlling causes as well as effects.
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