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Signal Advantage – what are you doing with your data?

February 28, 2010

“Signal Advantage – The ability to capture, interpret and act upon signals from increasingly rich and dynamic data.”

Huh?  This is the basis of an article from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) – the third in a seven part series on the future of strategy.  The article can be found here:

Extremely distilled down, this can be restated as “are you listening, and what are you doing with what you’ve heard?”    The article begins by stressing the importance of adaptation to incessant change.  Some businesses never react to the changes around them; some see the changes, and try to react, but in many cases do so blindly.  Lastly is the minority of businesses who see the change, educate themselves with as much available information as possible, and then react – and in some cases go on the offensive.

We are constantly overwhelmed with data – email, phone calls, blogs, news sites, magazines and trade publications, etc.  Add to this our clients, suppliers, employees, professional groups, and more.  How can one ever take all this in, let alone efficiently process into meaningful and strategic data?

That’s the concept of Signal Advantage.  According to the BCG, the Evolutionary Stages of Signal Advantage are:

  • Acquire relevant data
  • Recognize relevant patterns in data
  • Leverage insights to make operational interventions in real time
  • Continuously reinvent the business model
  • Shape the information landscape

This sounds a bit on the technical/scientific side right?  Here’s how I interpreted this, and how I view these elements affecting me.

Acquire relevant data – As many around me would tell you, I’m sort of an information junkie.  I am copied on countless emails; get strategic updates frequently throughout every day; read the news from various sources; read various publications, blogs, and more.  At times it is information overload – however, the main concept here for me is that I am relentless about the information being relevant.  Very quickly I assess if the information is relevant – if it isn’t, I don’t waste my time and I move on.

Recognize relevant patterns in data – For me, this is as simple as shifting my thinking from the every-day “detail” (i.e. the trees approach) and viewing the environment around me from a strategic level (i.e. the forest approach).  This is a very important shift in thinking.  For me it takes the right frame of mind.

Leverage insights to make operational interventions in real time – I take the key points from my strategic musings, and evaluate how it affects my operational planning.  It can have the following impact: change my planning, affirm my planning; or be added to the “watch” list.  Either way, every element has a conscious action for me – remember that even choosing not to act should still be an affirmation of your existing planning.

Continuously reinvent the business model – I actually think this point should go third before operational intervention – my conclusions that are a result of my strategic evaluation impact my business model first, which then dictates the operational side.  After all, the detailed operational actions should always be a result of the strategic goals and objectives you are pursuing.

Shape the information landscape – This last point is very abstract, but one of the most important.  I constantly hear people talk about situations where they describe what happened to them, as if they were a passenger.  Many people don’t try to change the circumstances of their situation.  However, even beyond that, rarely do people try to shape and influence their environment and circumstances in advance. Be proactive – look at your environment, figure out where you want things to go, and then try to do everything you can to shape your environment in that direction.  You’ll be surprised at your results.  Influence, influence, influence.

Conclusion – For me the most challenge part of all this is balance – how to strike the balance between leveraging the information resources around you and become a more effective “listener”, and avoid information overload – because it will absolutely overwhelm you.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2011 8:00 am

    This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  2. June 25, 2013 12:59 am

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article.
    Thank you for supplying this info.

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