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Danger Zone: Are you Ignoring your Opportunity Gap?

April 14, 2014

If you're only addressing the performance gaps in your company and aren't also focusing on the opportunity gaps, you're dead in the water.
It's not competition that kills your business. It's disruption. That's why actually understanding your opportunity gap (your market opportunity that's not being addressed) is so much more important than understanding your performance gap (the difference between your company's actual performance and optimal performance). If you're only focusing on the latter, you're headed for trouble.

I don't think there's anything I do that I couldn't do better if I gave it even a little bit more attention and effort. The challenge is that it would mean that something else would have less attention and effort. In other words, it's a matter of prioritizing. Simple as that.

Everybody knows that, and we all have our own ways of dealing with this in our everyday life. Some are more successful than others. For most of us, stress is an unavoidable side effect as we try to do everything better at the same time while worrying about the things we inevitably have to cut short. If I devote so much of my time and energy to work and my company, am I neglecting my family life? If I'm enjoying an unplugged day at the park with my kids, am I missing important opportunities at work? And what about my marathon training?!

But that's not even the worst part. We focus so much on prioritizing our efforts to do things right that we don't even consider if we do the right things. In business, we call this the ability to distinguish between performance gaps and opportunity gaps.

The Business Intelligence industry has its roots in closing performance gaps -- in other words, doing things right. IT in general, and Business Intelligence in particular, was tuned in to get the maximum value from internal data. That means optimizing every process of business and keeping the organization focused and efficient.

The external focus was mainly benchmarking and keeping up with competitors. But in today's world, keeping up with competitors is no longer any guarantee for success. The risk of being killed by direct competition is less likely than being killed by substitution from a disruption in the market. It's always been like that, but today it just happens faster and more profoundly.

The answer to this challenge is to start seriously considering your opportunity gaps -- or, doing the right things. Even if you manage to close each and every performance gap and become the best-of-breed in your industry, you'll end up putting yourself out of business if you don't also close your opportunity gaps. You'll just be walking dead for a longer time.

The way to deal with your opportunity gap is not as scary as it sounds. Start by looking at all the data from the world that surrounds you. Forget the illusion of gathering all information and calculating everything. The good news is that most people today invite you into everything they do, think, and plan via social media. Modern technology allows you to be a fly on the wall in your customers' lives. It lets you know who their friends are, their hobbies, and their interests.

Up to 90 percent of consumers say that online presence and reviews affect their purchasing decisions. That's a significant time and dollars being spent online. In many cases, that means many customers are forming their opinions about your brand before they even come in contact with you. 
Before they decided to buy your product or your competitor's product, they may even discuss this in the open on social media. With the right tool, it's possible to know what they're saying.

To stay competitive, businesses are increasingly looking outside the enterprise to make more intelligent decisions. As long as you look for answers about customer behavior in your own data, you will only see what's going on with customers that already have changed their minds. And as soon as you see a change of behavior reflected in your own data, it is probably already too late to react. As soon as a customer is gone, it's going to be very costly to win them back.

Yep, you guessed it. I'm talking about BIG DATA. That term is everywhere today. And for a good reason. It's the key to success for many of our businesses. But if you ask 10 people for a definition of Big Data, it's likely you'll get 10 different answers. At TARGIT, we say its data is so big and complex that it's incredibly challenging to process, manage, and measure using traditional data processing applications and Business Intelligence. It's a constantly moving target that will only continue to grow in speed and complexity. Companies that don't learn from and adapt to big data will quickly be left in the dust.

But it is not a matter of shifting from BI to BD. In my mind I see the value of different technologies in different scenarios like this:

OpportunityGap
By properly harnessing Big Data within your Business Intelligence strategy, you'll see more clearly, understand, and be able to fix that market opportunity that had previously been overlooked. You'll have the power to close the gap.
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