Category: Eagle Eye Strategic Focus

The Strategic Use of Data

December 13th, 2019

Have you thought about the strategic use of data? If not, you are missing a HUGE opportunity. Even in the most fundamental of businesses, having the ‘right’ data at the ‘right’ time in the ‘right’ place can not only enable quicker, more effective decision making but it can transform your business model.

Listen to David Libatique, Deputy Executive Director of Stakeholder Engagement of the Port of Los Angeles talk about the strategic value of data in the video below (thanks to APICS Inland Empire Chapter for the footage from the Executive Panel and Networking Symposium).

This topic is not just related to the vast amount of data the ports could capture (although that could be pure gold to those stakeholders), but data in general. Every client has a system of some sort. Small clients might still be on QuickBooks or are looking for the best “starter ERP” for their situation whereas others require complex ERP for process manufacturing or configure-to-order environments. That system contains vast data that can “collect dust” in the ‘data warehouse’ or be put to good use to drive business value. Which are you doing?

Do not get overwhelmed by data overload! There is no doubt that 80% of clients have voluminous amounts of data that can employ multiple people in creating reports on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. We are definitely not advocating for this end result. In our experience, whether a $5 million dollar family-owned business or a multi-billion dollar enterprise, the strategic use of data is typically not on the radar. Oddly, the big companies might not be the report mavens whereas the small might not be as nimble as we’d think! Almost every client can improve when it comes to the strategic use of data.

Instead of getting lost in the data maze, perhaps we should consider a few questions:

  1. Where do you want your company to go?
  2. Are you assessing the ‘right’ data to know if your strategy holds water?
  3. Are you going in the right direction? How can you tell?
  4. Have you thought about your data source(s)?
  5. Do your sales people have “data at their fingertips” to ensure profitable growth?

Data isn’t going to lose its power. It has been several years since I heard the CEO of SAP, Bill McDermott speak about the value of data especially as it relates to customers. Nothing has changed. In fact, most ERP systems tout the critical importance of data and several have hired what they call “data scientists” to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Will you evaluate your strategic use of data? Then go beyond your internal borders and expand to your customers, suppliers, transportation partners and you might just see a vastly expanded value in the strategic use of data. If you’d like assistance navigating this process, please contact us.

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Manufacturing Month & Interview with an Innovation Award Winner

October 25th, 2019

October is manufacturing month. We would be remiss if we didn’t highlight the power of manufacturing on our jobs, economy and quality of life.

Manufacturing is powerful in its influence and often overlooked.

Here are a few statistics from the National Association of Manufacturers to put the power of manufacturing in the proper light:

  1. Manufacturers contributed $2.8 trillion to the U.S. economy
  2. For every $1 spent in manufacturing, another $1.82 is added.
  3. The majority of manufacturing firms are quite small yet there are 12.82 million manufacturing workers in the U.S.
  4. Manufacturing workers earn almost $85k annually
  5. 92% of manufacturing employees are eligible for health insurance
  6. Over the the next decade, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will be needed.
  7. Over the past 28 years, U.S. manufactured good exports have quadrupled
  8. Manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 8th largest economy in the world.
  9. Manufacturers perform 64% of all private-sector R&D
  10. Foreign direct investment in U.S. manufacturing exceeded $1.6 trillion.

We are excited about the future of manufacturing in the U.S. and in the Inland Southern California area. In fact, according to a Brookings study, it is one of the top two recommendations to create a consortium for advanced manufacturing excellence. We are working with the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, more than 10 local universities and community colleges, and partner organizations and exporters to bring this to a reality! We are currently seeking CEO and manufacturing executive involvement from an advisory capacity. If you are interested, please contact us.

To illustrate one success in manufacturing, we thought we’d highlight my interview with Ingram Micro after they won the Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire‘s Innovation Award in Process & Resource Efficiency. As Innovation Awards Chair, it was an exciting day to see such innovation and success in the Inland Empire! In this interview, I had a great conversation with Ismael Reyes Jr, Lean Leader II and process expert, as well as Cindy Baughman, Senior Process Manager and finance guru at the Manufacturing Summit to explore further what they achieved with 33 lean projects, a $1 million dollars of savings and more. Watch the video.

In alignment with what we see with our clients, the 80/20 of success boils down to people and leadership combined with the appropriate process improvements to drive dramatic improvement to performance to customers and the bottom line. If you are interested in discussing a rapid assessment of what can be achieved in your organization, please contact us.

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The Amazon Effect Won’t Die!

October 4th, 2019

We have been writing countless articles about the Amazon Effect for many years as customers have the upper hand. In essence, if you cannot provide rapid, customized service with easy returns and ‘extra value’, you will be left in the dust. The needs aren’t going away. If anything, Amazon continues to raise the bar. Several companies such as FedEx, Walmart and others have announced same day and next day delivery. Target is redesigning stores and pick up areas so that customers can conveniently pick up purchases same day. Walmart is evaluating delivering groceries inside a customers’ home while they are at work. And, Costco has established a chicken farm to grow, slaughter and distribute chickens in an effort to eliminate the middle man for quicker, cost effective deliveries. However, this isn’t just about B2C and traditional e-commerce companies typically in industries such as consumer products and food and beverage. B2B companies expect Amazon-like service as well! Behind every B2B company is a person who expects B2C customer service.

Executives are still intrigued by the Amazon Effect. The reason executives still care is because it is getting harder and harder to remain competitive and profitable. For example, at the Manufacturing Summit, we recorded a series of videos from an Amazon Effect panel talking about these issues. Countless CEOs are expressing concerns about how to navigate these troubled waters. On the other hand, there are a few who are taking advantage of the situation to stand out from the crowd by becoming the disruptor instead of the disruptee. Which are you?

The Amazon Effect also teaches us that innovation is cornerstone to success. Not only does Amazon continually innovate and test new ideas, but some of these new concepts ‘stick’. As the founder of Netflix said, it isn’t that you set out to get the idea for Netflix and it is success all the way. The reason we are still talking about 3M and the famous sticky pad innovation is that it doesn’t happen that often, and 3M sets aside time and money for innovation as a part of their culture. Thus, we must get comfortable with trial and error. Of course, the error part is the problem. No one likes failure. Yet, it is just a part of the process. In fact, if you aren’t failing, you won’t succeed. Even Amazon fails. They test new markets, are willing to lose money and shut down programs. We just don’t hear about them as often as we hear about the latest and greatest new service or drone delivery! Are we really pushing the envelope far enough?

Have you thought about whether you have a culture that supports innovation? Check out our video series on innovation to gain some ideas. Gather your team to brainstorm out of the box ideas. Ask an expert to poke holes. Deliberately stimulate debate and organize trials. In essence, why not encourage maverick behavior within reasonable guide posts so that you set your team up for a “win”?

If you are interested in an Amazon Effect assessment with ideas to break from the mold, check out our free resources and/or contact us.

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Strategy Isn’t Long Term!

September 6th, 2019

As I meet with countless CEOs and P&L leaders at clients, via connections, at speeches, etc., I pay attention to what is top of mind. Strategy is always top of mind for the most successful business leaders! After all, if a CEO makes in the millions (the top 10 paid CEOs from 2018 made between $66 million and >$500 million), he/she is being paid for more than just executing the plan. Certainly, strategy is integral to the future success of the organization.

Yet, I see a lot of confusion about strategy. It isn’t complex. Strategy is figuring out the ‘what’. Whereas, tactics is the ‘how’. Strategy isn’t necessarily long-term. Who says ‘what’ should be long-term? In fact, some of the most successful CEOs are now focusing on rapid and agile strategy. Isn’t that what we need to succeed in today’s Amazon-impacted, rapidly changing business environment?

Focusing on the ‘what’ focuses on the outcomes and goals. In essence, where should your business end up? As Peter Drucker would say, strategy is “doing the right things”; whereas tactics is “doing things right”. Take a step back and think about his profound thinking. It is easy to spend all your time “doing things right”, isn’t it? It certainly is for me, and I am an expert in strategy!

What do you think Jeff Bezos is thinking? How to execute the best logistics plan or how to control the logistics landscape, just like a chess game? Of course, strategists need managers who are good at both strategy and tactics to make any strategy come true. And it is also true that strategies rarely fail in composition. Yet, more often than not, they fail in execution. Thus, it seems we must have both! We better know which is which and not be thinking strategy and tactics are long-term vs. short-term, or we will go the way of Sears and Toys R’ Us. (Quite sad as I still remember going to Toys R’ Us as a child around Christmas to explore all the possibilities. It was truly an experience!)

Have you thought about your strategy lately? If not, you better get on it before the next Amazon passes you by. And, let’s not get cocky, Sears used to be the Amazon in my lifetime. You never know who the next Amazon will be. If you are interested in a strategic assessment, contact us.

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Why Southwest Customers Wouldn’t Buy a Bentley



Why Southwest Customers Wouldn’t Buy a Bentley

July 24th, 2019

After giving 10 speeches on pricing and profits to groups of CEOs, it is certainly top of mind. Yet, it should always be top of mind for executive teams. One unanimous finding from the informal research of executives is that pricing is a strategic topic.  So, we must find time! When is the last time you focused on pricing?

Whether you consider pricing a strategic topic or not, it will directly impact your business. Let’s start with three typical options from a branding point-of-view.

  1. Low price leader – Southwest and Walmart are great examples of this. No one flies Southwest to have a first class experience. Instead, they are accessible to the general public and fun to fly. Their prices have to match their brand, and low prices do NOT equate to lower profits. Southwest has been consistently profitable when the higher priced airlines weren’t!
  2. Luxury brands – Similar to the low price leader, a Bentley or Gucci denotes the luxury image. If you found a low price on a Bentley, you would definitely think it was a lemon. In the B2B world, the same holds true. We work with a high quality lawn and garden equipment and tools supplier.  Their prices have to remain higher than the low cost brands to maintain their image and customer base. Of course, they need to provide more education and value for their customers as it is what they expect.
  3. Customer focused – In this case, the brand is all about the customer.  These companies are known for going the extra mile and providing superior value for their target customers. If it is all about value in the eyes of your customer, don’t you think your price better align to this value? Of course! If not, it is the epitome of the opposite of the brand.

Have you thought about your strategy and whether it relates to your pricing? It is easy to get caught up in competitive pricing situations and start to lower your price.  However, it might be the time to take a step back and see whether what you are doing matches your branding and strategy.

For example, one CEO provided an example of when she was a VP of Sales at a significant company. They had a niche product with unique value and higher prices. The sales teams were starting to see competition and thought they had to reduce pricing slightly to maintain their position.  The CEO said ‘no’. They were the leader and had value their competitors didn’t. It was a really hard process for the sales team to go back and talk value instead of giving in on price but they managed it. Fast forward to the next year. They were successful in maintaining their prices and didn’t lose business. Instead of falling into price war thinking, they talked about value.

What Do We Need to Think About Related to Strategic Pricing?

From an 80/20 perspective:

  • Who is your target customer? Think about your answer. Hopefully, it isn’t anyone willing to pay for your product or service! Yet that is an easy trap to fall into. Instead, take a step back and think about your target customer. What is their profile? How many current customers are target customers?
  • What do your target customers value? Although we tend to spend 80% of our time on 20% of our customers, the key question is whether these are the target customers. Do we know what our target customers value? Don’t think about your customer base and your daily interactions to answer this question. Instead, think only about your target customers. If you don’t know, find out! Being clear on this alone will yield dramatic results.
  • Is your pricing aligned with your target customers and their expectations of value? This is a tricky one. In our experience, 80%+ of our clients have room for improvement when we get to this point. It also changes over time.  If you last put thought into this even a year or two ago, you are acting on old information!

There is vast opportunity to keep pricing top of mind as it relates to your strategy. Why do this? It is a top strategy to ensure customer value (to grow your business) and increase bottom line profits simultaneously. If you are interested in a pricing & profits assessment, contact us.

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