At risual, we often discuss the value of transformation, agility and using technology to adapt your services to suit the demands of the market. Although this is all true, there are huge benefits to transformation or even digital enablement to become more productive or efficient, the real challenge for business leaders is often deciding, what or where to innovate and how to ensure it is a measurable, defined outcome which returns on investment.

There are hundreds of solutions, technologies and businesses all promising they offer the one thing your organisation is waiting for to take it to the next level. From CRM systems, cloud migrations, intranets, room booking, telecoms providers, business consultants, contact centre providers, marketing agencies, research companies, outsourcing partners and more all vying for your attention it is difficult to cut through the noise and identify what offers value and what doesn’t.

The truth is there is no right answer, very few companies sell services or products they know are sub-par or won’t make a difference, but very few companies can be 100% sure it is the right choice for your organisation at that exact time. Sometimes, before you can look outward for your transformation or solution, you need to look inward at your own data and see if you are treating the root cause of an issue, or a symptom of a wider problem.

For example, your organisation may receive a monthly report on the sales pipeline and see a steady decline in numbers for a specific product over every month for a year. The organisation may rightly decide that the demand for the product is dwindling, and it is time to discontinue it and focus on other more profitable areas of the business. This approach seems justified and the right decision, but without taking a wider look at marketing communications, salespeople focus on the product, customer feedback on the product there are a lot of potential answers as to why interest in dwindling – Perhaps marketing have other focuses? Perhaps your sales team receive less commission on this product? Perhaps a competitor has launched a rival product and undercut your price point?

Although a simple example, it illustrates the picture that without all the data, presented in the right way by an impartial expert – you cannot be sure any business transformational strategy will offer long term value, and not simply be treating the symptom of a wider issue. Confirmation bias is a major problem in an organisation when looking to solve problems, if a finance director, and sales director both task a member of their team to find out what is causing an issue – chances are both will return a different answer, as they will look at their own data sources. The sales team analyst will find an answer that uses sales records to show a healthy sales pipeline and low invoicing number, while the finance team member will use orders and accounting records to show 100% of orders passed to them have been invoiced, without looking at all data sources it is impossible to get to the truth. Neither ‘wrong’ or doing it intentionally, but both are using confirmation bias and data they understand and this results in a slightly different version of the truth.

When data is analysed from an external source by an expert, it is not tainted by unconscious bias or pre-existing theories as to what may be the issue. To make an investment in transformation, which will fundamentally change your business, you must fully understand and seek answers from every avenue of information, and ensure that the C-Suite are given an impartial, single view of the truth from which to plan their strategies.