Actionable Intelligence is the process of collecting information with the purpose of answering questions pertaining to your business and taking action based on the data collected. Our modern world provides us with not only the most information humanity has seen but the ability to access that information with ease. The amount of ways information can be collected has led to the culture of big data, collecting and analyzing large sets of information in order to draw precise and substantial results.
What makes actionable intelligence different from any other form of data collecting is that it is data collected with the specific purpose of taking action based on its results. Our world has become one that is fully connected. With having a connective network between your phone, home appliances, car, TV, etc. you can streamline your control, understanding, and access to all of these devices for ease of use but this connection also allows for information to be collected for actionable purposes.
Having a car that senses how long it can go between maintenance checkups or a refrigerator that keeps track of what kinds of items people are most likely to store in them are just some examples of the internet of things (IOT) developing around us. While this data can help you as a consumer better understand your relationship with these products and improve your user experiences, it also helps companies collect information on how their product is used and what improvements can be made.
With all of this information being collected, data has become one of the most sought after resources in the modern world. Now companies are either selling the data they collect to marketing agencies or they are figuring out how they can collect data of their own. Whatever strategy a company uses to collect its data, actionable intelligence is the analysis and decision making process that has arisen to turn that raw data into real results.
Actionable Intelligence Solutions
Actionable intelligence is a process developed by Keith B. Carter in his 2014 book Actionable Intelligence: A Guide to Delivering Business Results With Big Data Fast!. Carter explains the importance of data and how to create a strategy for collecting and analyzing it. Nearly all industries can benefit from actionable intelligence.
Due to the technical advancements and infrastructure improvements data collecting is accessible to any business wishing to get involved. Industries from transportation to education actionable intelligence can be utilized in a way that improves your operations. A delivery company can use actionable intelligence by tracking how quickly orders get delivered. They can track how long it takes to process and move a package at each step of the journey, whether it be collecting the package, processing, time spent in transit; all of these steps can be monitored for the purpose of improving delivery times and creating accurate estimates.
As a consumer we actually get to see some of this data for ourselves. Whenever you order something you are sent a shipping code where you can track your package as it makes its way to you. You can know exactly where it is in the world, which step of the delivery process it is on, and when you should expect to receive it. Before this ease of access to data you would never be given this information; as it would be too difficult to collect and distribute to customers.
The amount of ways data can be utilized is endless. Whether it helps improve research and development, improves transport times, or keeps inventory stocked it can offer your business a way to keep track of each individual data point so that your big picture is fully realized.
Actionable Intelligence Process
When illustrating actionable intelligence Keith B. Carter stated the four steps to keep in mind when applying actionable intelligence to your business. These four steps are easily classified by the acronym SWAT.
Answer with visualization
When it comes to taking the first step in actionable intelligence asking strategic business questions is key. This is how you will know where you will focus your efforts and what you plan to accomplish. With so much data and data mining options it can be intimidating to take that first step but if you have an idea of what you want to get out of actionable intelligence it should be easy to get involved. Asking questions such as what can we improve? How well is our current system running? What are competitors doing? Can give you some ideas of what you would like to delve deeper into.
The next step is to wrangle data. This is when you decide where data should be sourced from and how it should be collected. Most companies have an already established system of infrastructure where data collecting can easily be implemented. Whether it be in the warehouses storing your inventory, distribution vehicles, or finished products you can implement some sort of data collecting system to provide more information on that aspect of business. This decision is largely influenced by what you wish to track and analyze about your business.
Once you have established a system of data collecting it’s time to analyze that data. This is where “answer with visualization” comes in. By interpreting the data you have collected you are able to answer your initial questions about the quality and performance of your business. By visualizing your findings you can easily communicate your results to others in your company, shareholders, customers; whomever can benefit from a better understanding of your business operations. This step is all about answering questions with your overall intent in mind; making sure you are always considering who will use this information and how it will benefit them.
Finally you are ready to take action. By taking the results of your data analysis and turning them into actual change can be intense. It is important to remember that you have data and research to back up your decision making leading the process to be less uncertain and more calculated. The overall intent of making these changes should be to improve your business, whether it be improving the product quality, expanding product utility, or improving shipping times. You might be implementing actionable intelligence just to assure the methods you are currently using are working as you expected. This is a great use of actionable intelligence because it can streamline reports such as sales or production numbers into a quicker, more accessible process.
Actionable Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence
When it comes to ArchIntel and our competitive intelligence reporting, we find great value in utilizing actionable intelligence. While actionable intelligence is more of an internal operation and competitive intelligence is focused on external factors, they do play a part in influencing each other. When it comes to evaluating competitors it is important to consider your own business as well. Having a strong understanding of yourself and your competitors is important because you need a benchmark for comparison. Evaluating yourself and your competitors on the same level allows for true comparisons to be made and allows you to have a better understanding of differentiators.
The greatest similarity between actionable intelligence and competitive intelligence is compiling research with the intent of taking action. Making changes to your organization with supportive evidence is a great commonality that shares a similar mindset. By evaluating the performance of your company and your competitors you can find out which steps to take in future operations.
Business Improvements of Actionable Intelligence
Actionable intelligence offers many benefits when it comes to improving business operations. Whether it be increasing production, expediting distribution, or quality assurance. These are all great, virtuous, qualities to help uphold your business but at the end of the day these values can translate into a more cost effective operation. 69% of companies say that cost reduction is the major driving factor when implementing actionable intelligence efforts into their business operations.
Finding ways to improve your business, whether they be production, distribution, etc. can be a great way to streamline costs but a not as well considered aspect is saving in research and data collecting. Like any new implementation, there may be some initial costs to build and maintain the right infrastructure but overtime an automated, digital process will save on research expenses. Actionable Intelligence is all about taking advantage of the systems you already have in place collecting data from their daily operations.
Once an addition of sensors is made to your already established chain of operations, you will be able to track what was previously only tracked manually. Instead of having workers maintain the extra responsibility of tracking their own progress an array of sensors can keep track of what is going on, allowing workers to focus on their main task at hand. There might even be an increase in productivity due to their alleviation from this task.
Actionable Intelligence is an all encompassing tool that can be implemented to any business or industry. By taking advantage of the systems you already have in place you can dedicate specific efforts to collecting data and tracking everyday operations with precision only that could only be imagined before.