It’s ironic that in this age of information, businesses flooded in data can have such a difficult time making data-driven decisions. But that’s been the reality for many organizations. Take Cisco Systems’ Services Operations Group, for example. Sydney Shackleford, one of the group’s project managers, spent much of her week manually consolidating data into a slide deck. By the time she presented the deck in a bi-weekly status update, much of the data was outdated.
Shackleford’s experience is consistent with findings from an IDC report, which found the average information worker spends as much as 36% of their week searching for data, and that more than 40% of those searches are fruitless.
The reason? Despite their best efforts, many companies have data stuck in silo-like storage networks, squirreled away several layers deep in a file structure where it’s “out of sight, out of mind,” or located in a collaboration solution that’s not optimized for rapidly publishing data in an easily-understood format. This can lead to inefficient, labor-intensive processes, such as creating slide decks to share with executives that are outdated as soon as you capture the data.
While meetings and slide decks have their place, taking more decisive action starts with streamlining the delivery of data and making it available in one centralized location. This lets the business keep tabs on the company’s performance in real-time, rather than intermittently as their schedules — and manual reporting processes — allow.
For Shackleford and roughly 50,000 of her colleagues at Cisco, the solution came in the form of a corporate dashboard they built in Smartsheet that provides an at-a-glance update of key information, such as work in motion, project status, and current spend against budget. Having access to this continuous stream of real-time data virtually eliminates the need for ongoing meetings and the extraneous work they generate, since everyone has access to the dashboard at any time. Better yet, this significantly reduces response time, enabling executives to make immediate, decisive decisions that impact the health of the company.