What is "Actionable Intelligence" in Facilities Management?

April 5, 2017

Facility Management is Becoming Forward Thinking

Big Data, Business Intelligence (BI), benchmarking, Internet of Things (IoT). These are terms that are finding their way into the facilities management lexicon despite the industry discipline being historically slow to adopt information technology. The need for data in all industry sectors has exponentially increased over the last few years. And this need is driven by the increased access to BI and data by way of new technologies that bring the IoT to the forefront of daily operations. This access to BI and IoT has allowed for organizations and their respective facility management teams to garner data that helps them take action rather than analyzing events that happened in the past.


However, the amount of data being stored on a global scale is virtually inconceivable and determining what data can provide insight into the future is a bit difficult to define.


What is Actionable Intelligence?

Simply put, it's information that can be acted upon with the further implication that actions should be taken based on the information received.  The acquired intelligence must be transferable to real actions that make a difference for the future of your organization. 


Key Attributes of Actionable Intelligence and Insight

In an article for Forbes, Brent Dykes, Director of Strategy at Domo, outlined 6 key attributes for examining how actionable your data insights are: 


1. Alignment

If you don’t know how to react to a particular metric when it changes you might be looking at an unnecessary "vanity" metric.  It’s easier to interpret and convert strategically-aligned insights into tactical responses because they often relate directly to the levers in your business that you control, influence or are focused on.


2. Context

It is hard to move forward on an insight if you are lacking ample background to appreciate why it’s important or unique. For instance, you are comparing data for quarterly average invoice costs between two air conditioning repair vendors. One averages at $700 per invoice while the other is at $1100 per invoice. On the surface, this may seem to be drastically out of the ordinary. But, if you were able to drill down and find out that the seemingly higher priced vendor works in a region with older equipment, has performed substantially more major repairs or works in facilities that require extended labor due to serviceability, it puts the contrast in a better context.


3. Relevance


A single insight can be both a strong signal for one person and just more noise for another. There’s a level of subjectivity when it comes to the relevance of insights. In order to be relevant, an insight needs to be delivered to the right person at the right time in the right setting. If insights aren’t routed to the right decision makers and in a timely manner they will become stale and not receive the attention they deserve. 


4. Specificity

The more specific and complete the insight is, the more likely it can be acted on. Sometimes insights based on KPIs and other high-level metrics can highlight interesting anomalies but lack sufficient detail to drive immediate action. 


5. Novelty

There's a lot of data out there to digest. Novelty can sometimes trump truly actionable or even familiar insights. There is a lot of "tribal knowledge" in facility management. You may have garnered some new or novel data that you didn't analyze or measure before, but that doesn't mean it's any more actionable than finally being able to measure and analyze the things you've learned but couldn't quantify in the past.  Fancy graphics and novel insights are always fun. Just make sure they actually provide something valuable. This criterion speaks more to human nature than to how valuable an insight actually is. We become numb to certain insights if we feel as though they reinforce rather than challenge or evolve our current knowledge and beliefs.


6. Clarity

If people don’t clearly understand an insight, why it’s important and how it can help them—the insight will be overlooked and forgotten. You must be able to clearly communicate data and insights in a way your teams can digest and process it. Visuals and messaging can help insights become more easily understood. 











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