Watching the future
It's hard enough to get good data about Today's business, much less the business you're trying to become in order to succeed Tomorrow. So where is the data gathering effort worthwhile?
For most businesses, Tomorrow's success relies on selling more to one kind of customer, and less to another kind of customer. But our sales - and resulting profitability - data are often blended across all customer types. This is a visibility (and therefore insight) problem.
You've invested in reshaping the organization to better serve Tomorrow's customer. But the only information you have is that margins are thinner across the business. Does that mean your plan is flawed? Or do you have a temporary conflict between a promising Tomorrow and what used to be more lucrative Today?
You won't know without segmenting the data. Unfortunately, for many of us that means some real digging, because:
A) it often depends on subjective customer profiles within the same industry,
B) we're rarely completely abandoning Today's customers, only serving them less or differently in order to focus on Tomorrow's customers, and
C) the fixed costs of the business usually support multiple customer profiles.
It would be easier if we could just say, "Aerospace customers good... Mining customers bad." But it's more nuanced than that.
Do you know whether you're succeeding with the right customers?