The Cost of Flawed Intelligence

Mark Atkins, Intraversed


The Cost of Flawed Intelligence

After a seven-year long enquiry, the Chilcot Report found that, at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” and that the war was based on “flawed” intelligence.

The UK’s former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor, writes about the Chilcot Report in his recent book “My Life, Our Times” suggesting that assessments of the situation in Iraq were based “heavily on analytical assumptions” rather than evidence.

The decision made by the U.S. and its allies to invest heavily in a war, failed to deliver on promises because it was based more on opinion than fact.

It’s a disturbing basis of decision making that not only causes big problems in global politics, but big problems in businesses everyday.

“Flawed” Intelligence in Business

We are all experiencing the rise of “big data” and “analytics” as key strategic initiatives in large organisations. I find myself often questioning whether these expensive investment decisions are based on facts about real business issues or more on opinions and analytical assumptions, often reinforced by technology vendors.

I hear, time and again, conversations in our clients’ organisations about the need to invest in big data and analytics strategies. The envisioned potential gain from these big investments seems impressive.

But without understanding their organisation’s operational and informational issues, there can be little chance of solid return from such investment. The decisions are being based on “flawed” intelligence – and we know where that can lead.

A Successful, Fact-Based Big Tech Investment

I’m not suggesting that big data and analytics as a strategy is a bad thing or has no benefit. Like any investment, it needs to be undertaken for the right reasons, reasons based on facts not opinions.

One such successful investment was Wal-Mart’s. This is probably one of the most successful examples of a “big data” driven strategy. It was successful because they began with a real business issue that needed a solution - improving the effectiveness of their supply chain. They started needing to improve effectiveness. They found what was ineffective and then found what could solve that ineffectiveness most efficiently. It turned out to be a big data solution. (see here).

The key to the success of Wall Mart’s investment was that they did the pre-investment work to understand the full picture of the current environment – they started with business facts, and then found the best solution available.

A Successful, Fact-Based Non-Tech Solution

Conversely, Intraversed prevented one of our clients from a heavy tech investment that was being driven by internal “expert opinion” and supported by a technology vendor, but was not based on business facts.

Hesitant about such a heavy financial investment, our client wisely wanted to be sure that such an investment was truly necessary.

Our engagement began by reviewing all the factors contributing to the problems being experienced, which revealed the driving issue – one of business process.

The solution we delivered was primarily an improvement in process, with a relatively inexpensive alteration to their current technology.

In fact, had they invested in the technology they were considering, the real problems would have been compounded and the overall situation would have been made considerably worse.

The Results of Making a Non-Fact Based Decision

In politics, analytical assumptions led to an expensive war that probably shouldn’t have been fought and created a huge, ongoing mess for those involved, the aftermath of which may haunt those investor countries for many, many decades, financially, ethically, politically, socially and in their national security.

In businesses, analytical assumptions can also lead to expensive technology investments that compound the mess already experienced by those involved, with ongoing financial, legal, and regulatory ramifications affecting customer relations, business growth and staff satisfaction.

To protect your business from the same mistake, you need to ensure your business decisions are based on facts, all the facts and nothing but the facts.

This, of course, requires that you can get the facts (all the facts) and that the facts are consistent and reliable.

This is Intraversed’s speciality. If you want to ensure your decisions are based on facts, not “flawed intelligence”, why not meet us for a coffee and talk about how to do that.

Mark Atkins, Intraversed

Mark Atkins

Mark is a co-founder & Chief Development Officer at Intraversed, helping organisations establish the Intralign Ecosystem, an award winning information management & governance methodology, to achieve reliable information, stable tech spend & greater IT project success.

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