Intelligence Versus Relationship?

With the huge amounts of investment and emphasis enterprises are relying to generate Business Intelligence which in turn is expected to contribute to growth, it makes me wonder how much intelligence contributes to initiating, building, developing and sustaining a relationship. Well, there is very little to explain here that all businesses are between people and relationship is the underpinning to a human connection.

So let us get this straight here. Business Intelligence is most effective when obtained in real-time and actioned for the interpreted results. The key word is interpretation that is entirely dependent on the accurate definition of a context. And usually, from a computing perspective, this is evidenced from the metadata that is stored and retrieved across multiple data stores and forms of content; Audio, Video, Graphics and Text. Of course, such data is derivative of an integrated enterprise process framework where the interpretation can be aggregated and / or disaggregated from an Individual to a Team, Process, Enterprise, Value Chain and Customer Universe level seamlessly.

Given that the above is in place, let us examine the elements of relationship. Human relationships usually translate into enterprise relationships. And the foundation for a relationship is trust. It usually begins because one party is attracted to certain particular characteristics of the other. In the case of business, it is the buyer who forms perspectives (meaning out of the transactions) and a continuous positive perspective in all the five dimensions of Quality, Cost, Delivery, Service and Flexibility leads to a empowering relationship (branding).

The moot point that demands insight is whether the context is oriented to the levers of the relationship that delivers intelligence from the information that is generated across the process. It is critical that Intelligence works for relationship and therefore the integrity of data is unquestionable; obtained from the source along the path of its progress and processed within its shelf life period and acted upon for tangible results.  As the infamous Wikileaks are to reveal, imagine the governments acting on what they terms as intelligence from the information put together that are half truths and half intelligent by people with biases and bereft of brevity.

We have advanced a long way from the World Wars and the Cold War era into the nuclear era and therefore need to fundamentally understand the difference between espionage and intelligence.

Relationship positively feeds into intelligence and there is great potential vice-versa as well. But given the nature of treatment of Intelligence and Relationship  being reduced to the level of only a technology implementation, I doubt the outcome. Intelligence and Relationship at the technology systems level are merely transactional while at the human systems level are transformational. These cannot be in conflict and have to feed off each other. However, most of the instances of these systems I come across do not inspire my confidence.

Let me give you a couple of examples to illustrate my point.

I advised a Fortune 500 Consumer Product Goods (CPG) company about 5 years ago to utilize their transactional systems data produced by Nielsen to be aggregated and subjected to a context server that populates multiple data stores in the enterprise depending upon the type and nature of users in different parts of the enterprise; use and store the meta data on a real-time basis. The response was that it was too far an advanced solution and wanted to restrict the use of the data to the marketing team from a warehousing perspective. I am reliably informed that the organization uses the data in similar fashion to this day. Their research & development, product management or trade management is not shaped by this transactional data, though it has the potential. The real reason I have inferred for this is not just a lack of maturity but also a lack of interconnected processes that can flow the data back and forth seamlessly.

Similarly, I urged and cajoled the Account Managers of a Software Services company to build an account annuity plan based on developing relationships and building metadata about the organization continuously that can be mined for building Products, Processes and Services that would create Value for the Customer. Of course, such a relationship could be built only when an environment such as “Dialog in a room” could be created to continuously feed into intelligence vignettes from co-creation that leads to new offerings for markets and customers along the Value Chain. Again, the Account Managers who were themselves confused as to whether they were related to Sales, Marketing or Business Development could not relate to the concept as their roles were not clearly etched in an organizational process that they could leverage to orchestrate value for their customers.

Intelligence and relationship need not be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they serve the Purpose of an enterprise only when they are mutually inclusive. This can be achieved only when the enterprise processes are integrated with a clear delineation of the core and support processes; where the core process dictates the design of the support processes. The relationship is a factor of the core process and the intelligence is a factor of support process. Once this interplay is understood and the human system is addressed from the strategic point of view, the management of the operations can be designed for efficiency. Make no mistake, relationship garners loyalty where as the best of intelligence can only garner satisfaction. It is important to realize that Strategies have to emerge from the heart (emotional intelligence) while Management has to be orchestrated from the Mind (Business Intelligence). Emotional Intelligence needs empathy while business intelligence needs interpretation. Most organizations especially when they are big have a tendency to do the reverse. This is where the Pyramid needs to be inverted.

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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