Data Data Everywhere: Does AI Matter in the Cultivation of Business Acumen?

Not a day goes by when I don’t hear the term AI (artificial intelligence) mentioned in the news. It’s like a big “aha” just swept the world! However, what’s behind AI is not new. Companies have been establishing data linkages to provide intelligence for years!

What is relevant is that the evolution of data analysis capabilities has accelerated because there are more powerful processors, as well as the evolution of innovative use cases. Underneath all of this is a need for data literacy that forms one of the core capabilities of business acumen.

I refer to this as “Analyzing Data, Solving Problems, and Making Decisions.” This capability is captured in The Business Acumen Canvas, which you can learn more about it here.

As most of you know, I’m a passionate advocate for cultivating business acumen.

Why? Because those who possess the key attributes and behaviors that makeup business acumen can have a profound impact on the performance of any organization.

For the most part, your functional specialty is not as important as your ability to associate disparate data elements to form insights that allow you to surface problems and make decisions.  This data-driven approach can contribute greatly to your credibility as an emerging leader or manager.  The body of knowledge is growing greatly, but I believe we can build a greater awareness of the opportunities in front of us.

Here are a couple of areas that you might want to think about:

Data is at the heart of almost everything you do. 

Whether it’s people, processes, products, financial analysis, or strategy, activities can be tracked, and problems can be surfaced. 

  • Was a customer able to get their product delivered on time?
  • Are you able to connect demand with supply?
  • Did the product get developed on time and within budget?
  • Is there a connection between the developers’ commitments and customer promises?
  • Did the IT group plan for the number of simultaneous transactions given the availability of new features?
  • Can project management people gain greater insights into cross-functional commitments toward fulfilling a project’s objectives?
Functional Silos are Becoming Extinct:

Sharing data across functions and the organization will reveal remarkable insights.  This is why interpersonal/intra-organizational communication is so important.

People need to understand who does what with whom. As functional structures have less defined edges, cross-functional collaboration will move from a term we hear to a reality in how we operate on a day-to-day basis.You are now part of an emerging data ecosystem in our organizations.

There are databases everywhere.  If we talk to each other more frequently, we can learn more about how data moves back and forth across the enterprise. This may involve discovering who uses what data and how we talk about what’s important to make better collective decisions.

The data ecosystem will extend to our partners, customers, and suppliers. Imagine manufacturing companies that can share supply chain information so suppliers can plan more effectively.

Or how a financial services company can work more effectively with their enterprise clients to deal more proactively through the connection of macroeconomic trends so that banking clients can better plan and manage their businesses.

Hopefully, these will get the gears of your mind working so you can begin to truly operate like the valued data-driven, data-minded employee your leaders want in their talent pool.

Remember, your ability to operate as an informed, strategically minded businessperson will earn you greater levels of credibility and of course, expand your foundation of business acumen.

What do you think about this important topic? I hope you’ll share.

This article of The Business Leader was brought to you by Business Acumen Institute, which equips emerging leaders with the capabilities to achieve and sustain long-term growth through online, in-person, or virtual business acumen training.

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