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What Value Information? (11-20-14)

Finally, someone speaks some sense about the value of information. A front page article in the Wall Street Journal's October 13, 2014 edition nails the fact that information, especially for companies that sell it and use it effectively, is worth a whole lot more than the office furniture that is the subject of meticulous accounting. The article states that: "... no one really knows what all that information is worth. Data isn't a physical asset like a factory or cash, and there aren't any official guidelines for assessing its value." The article went on to suggest that in our increasingly information-centric economy, information of various sorts could be worth more than $8 trillion -- roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product of Germany, France and Italy combined.
Earlier this year I co-presented a talk at SCIP's (The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals) convention in Florida on a subject that is near and dear to my heart: InfoCentricity In Business Development (BD). The reason that my colleague, Dr. Mike Nash, and I were giving this talk was that CAI/SISCo has been practicing InfoCentricity since computers had become affordable for small businesses. And, moreover, InfoCentricity remains a key cultural imperative for our company to this day.
The central question we addressed for SCIP was what it will take for business developers to embrace and exploit the time value of information (the cost, in time and money, of acquiring needed information) in support of their enterprise's engine of stability and growth (i.e., BD). Why, we wondered, is it so difficult to require an enterprise's customer-facing operatives to capture, record, tag and pre-position for present and future sharing the information that they are paid to learn: is this such a revolutionary concept? Surely those involved in maintaining and growing the enterprise's business backlog would get an immense premium by gaining access and the ability to mine the totality of their firm's accumulated knowledge?
What Mike and I learned, however, was that while most of those that attended our SCIP talk understood and applauded InfoCentricity's benefits, few could point to any investment that their employers were making to realize the benefits and savings that information husbanding can bring. BD's frenzied situation and its apparent inability to embrace new ways of doing things was expertly and analogously captured in this 40-year old cartoon. It is battle day and as the medieval king emerges from his tent, an aide points out that he has a visitor, a salesman. The king says he has no time for a salesman, he has a battle to fight. Irony of ironies, the salesman is shown standing next to a machine gun!
But, as always, between the idea and the implementation the shadow tends to fall. In this case the shadow consists of major issues that need to be addressed before the promise of InfoCentricity can become a reality. InfoCentricity can only take root if an appropriate enabling technology is deployed that allows snowflakes of information associated with customers, projects, competitors, price points and technologies to be easily recorded, tagged and shared. Investment is required.
Second, cultural change is critically important. We live in an age in which there is no requirement for even customer-facing employees to remember, record, or share information that they are relied upon to learn. Typically, each capture campaign develops its own set of competitive information without benefiting much from earlier campaigns or leaving a cache of information that could benefit future campaigns. Even worse, few, if any, job descriptions require business developers to record and share the information that is learned personally or inter-personally. Here we are talking primarily about the sorts of information that will never be found on Google or any other secondary information source.
While the time value of information is not yet a recognized measure of business development advantage, I believe it is coming, and coming fast, and will soon become mainline BD thinking. In the meantime, I suppose contractors will continue to count desks, chairs and wastebaskets and avoid accumulating information that can help their business developers understand and win more for less.
To help contractors who wish to adopt a more rational attitude toward the value of information CAI/SISCo now offers training and coaching services designed to improve the returns on information investments within and among pursuit teams and the overall BD organization. Please call me at (301) 807 8171 to discuss how CAI/SISCo can coach your organization to think more strategically about information or to apply Price To Win (PTW) and strategic pricing to your next "must win" capture.
Good luck and happy hunting!
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