Innovation, The Untapped Human

28 Jan 2019 Innovation

Innovation may be the latest and hottest buzz word, but its roots are by no means new. Innovation is synonymous with Human and all you must do is look around to see the far-reaching effects of human ingenuity and innovation. From things as simple as the wheel to the high-tech gadgets that both control and assist our lives. Knowing where the innovative spirit comes from and how to extract it, could very well be the most powerful and influential skill you could develop as a leader.

So why is innovation so “hard”? Why do companies struggle to break the “glass ceiling” or find their way “out of the box”? Turns out, there is A LOT to it. Our behavioral patterns are determined by a quagmire of personal experience, driven by societal and cultural norms, mixed with the fundamental nature of humans that both propel us and control us. The combinations are infinite, and the outcomes are incredibly broad on many spectrums. The forces of good and evil, the balance of control and freedom, the perception of time gained and time lost, our innate willingness to help others, and our incredibly vast interests, abilities, and passions that are as unique as our DNA will continue to drive destruction and creation as long as humans walk the earth.

So, I’ll ask you again, why do we struggle with Innovation if it’s a part of who we are? My most vague, yet most fundamentally accurate answer is “balance.”. Balance keeps us both where we are and where we want to be. I believe we have the power to decide which side of balance we want to be on, both as individuals and as businesses. To invoke change, we must upset the balance that exists, we must make waves in the status-quo, ignite a fire in the hearts and minds of humans and it must be constant, relentless, and void of direction.

This is by no means, easy, but a conscious understanding of what “levers” to pull is certainly helpful. Here are five of some of the most fundamental and obvious tendencies of humans that we need to understand, accept, and account for when driving towards an innovative culture.

1. The path of least resistance – We humans tend to take the easy way out. We take the shortest or quickest way home, we constantly seek better, easier, and more efficient ways to work, cook, lose weight, and just about anything else we get into. You could see how this would be an asset in the struggle to innovate.
2. Creatures of habit – Counter to our need to take the path of least resistance, we’re also wired to settle into the habits that have been created for us or that we have created for ourselves. This tends to hurt our drive for innovation.
3. Action and Reaction – The fundamental basis for how humans learn can be explained with action and reaction. Our behavior and actions are altered and modified from the moment we are born. Presented with a favorable reaction, we tend to perpetuate our actions. To the contrary, we tend to reduce or hide the actions that aren’t well received from our reactive forces.
4. Fear itself– Another side effect of action and reaction is fear. If the reactions are almost always negative or have a negative social component, fear keeps us from acting. Fear is all around us in one form or another. It manipulates us into buying products and services, it suppresses our opinions, it forces us to do things we hate for a lifetime, and it keeps us from creating the lives we are meant to live. Respecting fear is necessary, but suppressing it at the right time can have powerful ramifications.
5. Narcissism lives in all of us – We all have it, some more than others, but make no mistake. “Leaders” in any organization are often the biggest offenders of letting their narcissism run wild. A false sense of power tends to amplify narcissism without people even realizing the damage they are doing to their culture. As with any of these traits, anyone interested in harnessing the power of humans must first recognize this in themselves.

We could argue that law enforcement, is reactive in nature because of the ingenuity that lives within humans who don’t conform, who don’t live in fear of consequences, who seek a different path, who seek an easier path, and who have a keen sense of action and reaction within the system in which they live. The traits, talents, perceptions and personal experience of leading-edge criminals is arguably the very thing that’s missing from the people that live within your organization. No, I’m not advocating you hire criminals, but I am almost certain that those same attributes are alive and well inside all of us. Knowing what they are, how to disrupt or incite them, and who to apply it too, is arguably the most powerful tool of any leader. But in the face of innovation, does “leader” carry the same definition?

The traditional “leader” is best identified by their ability to get people to do what needs to be done. An Innovation leader, however, must be able to get people to do things that haven’t been done before. This is a subtle but important distinction since the combinations for success are far less obvious when it comes to innovation. Being able to distinguish one’s self as a leader in innovation is a tall order and one that brings about a great deal of self-reflection, faith, and understanding to both embrace and oppose the tendencies of nature.

Reverse Logistics: Why Returns Are so Important Today in Driving Customer Loyalty

Reverse Logistics: Why Returns Are so Important Today in Driving Customer Loyalty

Reverse logistics occurs after the sale. It includes an array of potential activities that recapture value and extend the lifecycle of the item. For example, consumers in many states participate in bottle return of glass soda pop bottles. Returning the bottles nets them a few cents and enables the manufacturer to cut costs by recycling the bottles. That small discount adds up to customer loyalty.

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Should We Transform Our Business to the Cloud?

Should We Transform Our Business to the Cloud?

Using cloud solutions opens your workforce to using virtually any Internet-connected device to access and process data. That means everyone gets to use the computing tool with which they feel most comfortable whether it’s the office’s iPads or a Windows computer. Another benefit is your office can purchase exactly the number of licenses it requires, then add to it as it hires office staff.

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How Blockchain Could Transform Logistics

How Blockchain Could Transform Logistics

Organizations across the world are finding themselves with increasingly complex supply chain processes to manage. While in the past most commercial enterprises were local, modern enterprises cannot survive in this way. Many modern businesses are finding themselves having to develop new technologies to manage these strategies — one of which may become the blockchain.

The Supply Chain is Broken

Current supply chains are still using management and logistics processes that were developed a long time ago. These are very streamlined processes that involve a small number of components. But supply chains are operating internationally now; even organizations that only deal in local trade are often sourcing their materials from another country.

This introduces many logistical concerns. Supplies and assets must now change hands a multitude of times, shifting responsibility from one organization to the other. Supplies need to be able to be tracked by multiple vendors and businesses, which can be difficult when they are traveling such tremendous distances. Blockchain technology may be able to help.

How the Blockchain Can Revolutionize the Supply Industry

Blockchains provide a completely transparent and consolidated transaction sheet, which can comprise a multitude of different transactions and verifies each transaction with all other users of the system. In the blockchain, a transaction can be logged and then immediately propagated throughout the system, carrying with it information about the transaction and verifying that the transaction did take place.

Blockchains provide a completely transparent and consolidated transaction sheet, which can comprise a multitude of different transactions and verifies each transaction with all other users of the system.

As a consolidated but decentralized system, blockchains provide for superior security as they cannot be controlled by any one individual. Data cannot be lost because this data is held by anyone who uses the blockchain, and consequently suppliers don’t need to worry about issues such as securing and managing their own transactional data.

All transactions can be traced easily back to the original source through blockchain, and each entity in a blockchain can be tracked through multiple transactions. This has opened the door for companies such as diamond companies to track their individual assets throughout the entire supply chain, from initial mining to customer purchasing. Not only does this heighten security and streamline logistics, but it also provides vital data throughout the customer purchase process.

The blockchain is a relatively new and disruptive technology, but it has been around long enough that many companies are now seeing its true value within their organization. Through the blockchain, supply chains can enter into a new generation of scalable, consolidated, and decentralized solutions.

Companies will be able to track extremely complex supply chain management protocols with complete transparency and organizations will be able to work together with transparent and easy to access data. All of this will reduce supply chain overhead and costs and make it easier for companies to thrive. For more information about business intelligence and data analytics, contact the experts at Starr & Associates.

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Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence: A Long-Term Marriage?

Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence: A Long-Term Marriage?

Many businesses rely on data analytics to help them improve customer satisfaction and lower their costs. But when paired with artificial intelligence, or AI, data analytics can further help your business. Here is some information about data analytics, artificial intelligence and how they can work hand-in-hand to benefit your business. 

What are Data Analytics?

Data analytics are pieces of data that are used by managers, business owners, and marketing managers to help them determine their customer base and how to grow their business. Data analytics can show you who visits your business, who is interested in your product, what price point your product can best sell at, how engaging your advertisements are and who your target customer should be. 

What is Artificial Intelligence? 

Artificial intelligence takes your data analytics and kicks it up a notch. Much of your data is achieved through actual testing. For example, if your target market is females aged 18 to 25, you may have tried to market to those who are younger and older to see what their interest was and failed. This helped you determine that those in this age group are most interested in your services. Artificial intelligence uses predictive behavior to predict that those who were older or younger wouldn’t have been most interested in your product. Ultimately, this predictive behavior helps the trial and error that goes into the pricey and time-consuming testing that goes along with data analytics

Data analytics and artificial intelligence work hand-in-hand because your data analytics are fed into the AI system to give a basis for the predictive behavior that AI is able to determine. Artificial intelligence relies on data analytics to provide a full and accurate assessment for your business.

How Can the Two Work Together?

Data analytics and artificial intelligence work hand-in-hand because your data analytics are fed into the AI system to give a basis for the predictive behavior that AI is able to determine. Artificial intelligence relies on data analytics to provide a full and accurate assessment for your business. 

What are the Benefits of Using Artificial Intelligence in Data Analytics?

The biggest benefits associated with using artificial intelligence in data analytics is the cost and time-savings. Artificial intelligence is able to more accurately predict consumer behavior based on your data analytics, helping to ensure that you don’t have to go through the trial and error process of testing new products or defining your target audience. This helps you to save both time and money, ultimately allowing your business to grow faster and more rapidly. 

Are you looking to incorporate artificial intelligence in your data analytics in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area? If so, we at Starr & Associates would love to assist you. We understand how to use the tools of business intelligence, analytics, and data mining to improve process efficiency and customer service, while also creating effective strategies for improving the end-customer experience and lowering costs. Contact us today to find out how we can help you. 

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Metrics and Dashboards in Selling Company Initiatives to Executives

Metrics and Dashboards in Selling Company Initiatives to Executives

How do executives determine whether company initiatives are effective or not? Executives don’t have the time to regularly comb through lengthy reports. They need important information to be delivered to them in as concise of fashion as possible. This is the role that a dashboard plays. Through a well-designed dashboard, executives can get all of the business analytics data they need.

Building an Executive Dashboard

An executive dashboard must be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. The statistics displayed should be relevant to the organization’s current goals, displaying both metrics that are over-performing and under-performing. These metrics should be displayed in a timely fashion and should allow executives to drill down to further information that is relevant to them.

At-a-glance, the executive dashboard must give a broad spectrum overview of company initiatives, including everything that needs to be improved upon or modified.

Choosing the Metrics of an Organization

Which metrics should an executive be shown? After all, a company is likely tracking hundreds of them — which are most important? Begin with your organization’s most important metrics, such as its net profits. From there, pare down to the metrics that are underlying that, such as sales and expenses. These underlying metrics are what influences your net profits.

At-a-glance, the executive dashboard must give a broad spectrum overview of company initiatives, including everything that needs to be improved upon or modified.

If an organization has current and specific initiatives, such as increasing returning customers or improving upon new sales, these metrics should additionally be tracked. This gives the executive actionable information regarding the company-wide initiatives that are currently on-going, so they can determine whether the company is moving in the correct direction or not.

Use Data Visualization and Analytics

Few people, even experienced company executives, can glean any information from charts upon charts of numbers. Data visualization makes it easier to analyze large volumes of seemingly complex data all at once. Through data visualization, patterns more easily emerge. Pie charts, for instance, can be compared quite quickly to each other to identify current trends.

The right data analytics dashboard will give you a variety of ways to display information. The more varied the information displayed on the executive dashboard, the easier it will be to compare different metrics and identify changes as they occur. There are many software suites out there built for visualizing complex sets of data.

A modern organization is only as good as its data. There is no way for a business to succeed today without tracking its metrics. Moreover, the metrics on a company dashboard give an executive the information they need to make powerful, well-informed decisions for their company. For more information about the role that information plays in business today, contact the experts at Starr & Associates.

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Auditing Business Processes Through Analytics

Auditing Business Processes Through Analytics

There’s a reason why businesses are trending towards big data. Data analytics can be used to isolate areas of a business that need to be improved, in addition to paring down to the areas of the business that are performing most successfully. Through an internal audit, a business can fine-tune and streamline its business processes, ultimately using performance metrics to improve its productivity and revenue.

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Identifying and Validating Cost Savings through Analytics

Identifying and Validating Cost Savings through Analytics

It’s often easier to reduce an organization’s costs than it is to increase its income, but the bottom line is the same — an increase in revenue. If you’re looking for ways to streamline your expenditures and improve your cost savings, it’s time to look at your analytic data.

Analyze Your Data for Savings Opportunities

Your expense sheet holds all of the information you need to identify potential opportunities. Identify your largest suppliers and vendors and begin there. Look for opportunities to:

  • Reduce prices through discounts. Long relationships with another vendor may put you in the position to negotiate.
  • Reduce prices through consolidation. If you’re currently working with multiple vendors, you may be able to save money by consolidating through a different business.
  • Reduce prices through alternatives. Some vendors may no longer be competitive in relation to others within their industry.

Use Your Reporting

Visualized, aggregated data gives you valuable insights that you might not be able to see on a spreadsheet. This is the premise behind big data visualization: large-scale patterns may only be visible once data is consolidated, analyzed, and visualized. Using the right software solutions, you can better understand where your organization is spending the bulk of its money. From there, you can look at ways to fine-tune your operations.

Look at Supplier Performance

A supplier may not just be costing you money in terms of raw materials. Assessing supplier performance is also necessary to determine the full impact of their costs. Are delays making it necessary for your organization to delay products? Have mistakes in the supplier chain required returns or additional administrative processing? Supplier performance impacts efficiency, which can impact the system as a whole.

Visualized, aggregated data gives you valuable insights that you might not be able to see on a spreadsheet. This is the premise behind big data visualization: large-scale patterns may only be visible once data is consolidated, analyzed, and visualized.

At the same time, contract compliance must also be enforced. If suppliers are required to deliver product under certain guidelines — and they are not doing so — then they are not performing up to their contract. Issues of compliance must be enforced if negotiations are to be useful.

Forecasting and Planning Your Cost Savings

In addition to making decisions based on current spending, you must also consider future spending. If certain areas of your business are about to grow and expand, then your organization needs to focus on developing out these sectors and reducing costs within them. If areas of your organization are starting to become obsolete, then their cost savings benefits are going to be minimal.

Creating Results from Data Analysis

Data analysis is not effective if it isn’t used to affect change. Once your cost savings data has been analyzed, it’s time to make simple, clear, and functional changes to the spending of the departments that it impacts.

If you want to reduce spending in your organization, comprehensive data analysis is the most effective way. Through better data analysis, you can drill down to your organization’s spending habits, discovering inefficiencies and identifying trends. Of course, this also requires the right software and the right business processes. You can find out more through the experts at Starr & Associates.

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Creating a Data-Driven Culture in Field Service

Creating a Data-Driven Culture in Field Service

Data-driven cultures are far-reaching. Nearly every industry is currently being disrupted through data analytics, and the field service culture is no exception. Many companies are utilizing a combination of unmanned drones, sensors, and data analysis to make field service more effective and comprehensive. Here’s what you need to know.

Predictive Field Service Management Models

What if you could predict when a system would go down? With big data, you can. Big data uses a combination of sensors and historical data to identify environmental conditions that could indicate a breakdown. This data isn’t a replacement for traditional field service techniques, but instead, it’s designed to augment field servicing. Big data can be used to tell field service technicians when there could be a critical problem, as well as to fine-tune the number of times technicians go out and when they go out.

Predictive field service models work hand-in-hand with the Internet of Things. Internet of Things devices are utilized to capture data in the field, and this data is analyzed. Big data isn’t magic — it requires tremendous amounts of data which is then used to view patterns. As an example, a certain heat signature might only occur just before an element breaks. These patterns can then be used to create a risk assessment for individual machines and equipment on the field.

A data-driven culture is a cost-effective, safe culture. Better data means technicians need to be on the field less and are on the field when they are most useful. Not only does this reduce field-related industries, but it also reduces the overall cost to a business.

Creating a Data-Driven Culture

A data-driven culture is a cost-effective, safe culture. Better data means technicians need to be on the field less and are on the field when they are most useful. Not only does this reduce field-related industries, but it also reduces the overall cost to a business.

Creating a data-driven culture begins with the right hardware and software systems. Companies must take care to outfit their on-the-field infrastructure with the right sensors and IoT devices and must utilize state-of-the-art software to capture and analyze this data.

Companies also need to change their core business processes to directly relate to and manage this data. The technology has to be integrated at all levels of their field servicing so that data brought in and analyzed has an ultimate impact on when service calls are made and how service technicians operate.

Integrating data into field service is the first step towards making a more effective, productive, and competitive environment. Companies can substantially reduce their overhead while also reducing their risk, by utilizing an ecosystem that is less likely to experience breakdowns, delays, or injuries. For more information about this type of solution, contact the experts at Starr & Associates.

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Using Predictive Analytics for the Disruptors in Healthcare

For many decades, the healthcare industry as a whole was able to maintain status quo. In the last decade alone, however, it’s experienced a great deal of disruption. From self-service healthcare and patient self-advocacy to predictive analytics and big data, the industry is changing. From small clinics to large healthcare organizations, businesses within this industry must change with it.

What is Predictive Analytics?

In predictive analytics, historical datasets are compiled and analyzed for patterns. Once patterns are found, this analytic data is used to make predictions on future outcomes. Predictive analytics can be used for a wide variety of scenarios, ranging from determining whether a customer might leave the organization to identifying the products and services a customer may be most interested in.

Predictive analytics has existed for as long as data has existed, but it isn’t up until recently that the raw, computational power necessary for making accurate guesses was available. Organizations now collect more data than ever before and can use this data to make surprisingly accurate predictions.

What Will Disrupt Healthcare in 2018?

Patient-generated data can now be analyzed to diagnose a multitude of issues. As patients are continually becoming stronger advocates for their health, organizations are going to see an increase in self-service healthcare. Patients are going to be pursuing their own diagnosis and are going to be identifying their symptoms. Patients are also going to be studying their billing and their medical costs more intently.

In the past, it wasn’t always necessary for healthcare organizations to be proactive about transparency. Though patients have always had the right to their own healthcare data (and the agency to make their own decisions), it wasn’t always a priority that patients understand every step of the process. In the new medical landscape, patients are going to begin to demand to be equal partners in their health decisions.

 

The Challenges for Healthcare Clinics

To compete with these new, disruptive technologies, healthcare clinics are going to need to take steps towards creating a more patient-friendly system. Collecting data is only one small part of this; clinics will also need to be able to reliably analyze and protect this data, both regarding confidentiality and security.

As patients become more knowledgeable and forceful about their rights as a consumer, healthcare professionals are going to need to be more customer-centric and patient-focused. This may create a radical shift in many business processes and business operations, especially in terms of customer acquisition and retention.

Healthcare organizations are in for some significant and immediate change as the industry is in the process of being disrupted by new, advanced data technologies. At Starr & Associates, we can help. Contact us today to find out more about the disruption that could be headed for your business.

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