Think about the last time you got good or bad news about something that happened relating to your business or organizational performance. It may have been a spike in sales, or a pronounced and unanticipated dip in those sales. It may have been a big deal that closed, or some kind of catastrophic event that affected your organization in a profound way. Perhaps it was a wildly successful marketing campaign.
Regardless of the actual transaction or event, as a manager or information worker, what's the first question that pops into your mind when someone tells you something like:
- "we just closed the biggest sale of the year..."
- "revenue is really down, and looks like it's going to get worse..."
- "our biggest competitor just announced they're opening a huge new branch..."
- "the sales organization as a whole has spent way more money than we budgeted..."
If you're like most of us, the very first thing that springs to your mind is: "where?".
Where did the huge sale happen? You need that context before you can begin to understand why it happened, who and what was involved, and think about ways to replicate your success.
Where specifically is revenue up or down? Only when you know that answer can you even begin to address the other key questions like why is it down, at what point in time did it start to decline, and what should be done about it. When you answer those questions, you can take action to turn things in the direction you want them to move, but it starts with "where".
Where that competitor branch pops up will potentially impact you if it's near a location in which you either already have a presence or are planning to develop one.
The "where" of performance management in any business or organization frames understanding. Without it, there is virtually no basis to make informed decisions.
Which of these tell the story quickest?
Now of course there are a lot of ways to identify "where", but nothing like a map. Lists of numbers alongside of States and ZIP codes do not "pop" information the way that a well symbolized map can, instantly. Lists of retail outlets and sales say far less than those same outlets, shown as symbolized points on a map. And when the map is linked to a wealth of other BI data, you can analyze and answer those other questions (Who? Why? When? What?) in the context of where. You have location intelligence.
And it all starts by asking the most logical of questions.