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Intelligent Organisations just have Common Sense.

Dublin, Wednesday 23rd March – Great companies simply operate with more common sense, that’s according to a panel of speakers that included journalist Mark Little and David Bunworth, Managing Director of Bord Gais Energy at the National College of Ireland Innovation in Business Seminar, held on 23rd March 2010.

The panel came up with five points that any business could implement at any time, in order to improve their operational efficiency and become a more intelligent organisation.

  • Business in the Twitter-sphere: Mark Little recently set up his own business in digital media to take the ‘real news out of the noise’. He suggests that companies should take notice of what their customers are saying about them on Twitter. “Twitter is all about self-selecting communities gathered around your product, all equal. “ People commenting on blogs and micro-blogs provide valuable insights on products, services and brands. Companies must take notice or they could miss an important opportunity to improve and respond to their customers’ views of what they offer.
  • Gain customer insights: “Research is critical, not for information’s sake, but for insights. Look at the insights that customers give you and learn from them. We spent a lot of time with consumers, listening to them, talking to them and understanding what they wanted”, said David Bunworth, who spoke about how Bord Gais implemented the Big Switch campaign which resulted in the recruitment of more than 300,000 new customers.
  • Challenge the team: Ciaran McGowan, Managing Director of the profitability improvement company StaffBalance talked about how up to 60% of sales people’s time is taken up by administration. “Challenge the team to do simple things well. How much value do they get from internal meetings? Can they use video conferencing instead of travelling? Can some of that administration work be passed to other teams to free up the sales person to sell?”
  • Monitor web activity: “Some company employees spend two and a half hours per day surfing the internet for personal use. That is an average of 12.5 hours per week”, according to Jon Mulligan of Openplain, an award-winning workplace analytics company. “One quick win is to engage staff in monitoring their internet usage. It is like a personal entertainment system that has been placed on people’s desk and it costs companies millions in lost productivity.”
  • All four speakers talked about the importance of measuring progress. According to David Bunworth, “What get’s measured, get’s done. All of our marketing initiatives and messages were directed towards getting customers to switch, particularly online. Thirty percent of our customers signed up via the web compared to an industry average of five percent and these results were instantly measurable.” Change is pointless unless the results can be measured. So whether it is improving customer satisfaction, garnering more time for the sales people to do their job, or putting in place an initiative to recruit more customers, make sure to benchmark and measure progress.

Innovation is not necessarily about major changes or improvements. Intelligent organisations make small but important adjustments to their systems, practices and communications in order to achieve real gains. The most successful and intelligent organisations find ways to listen out for client feedback, be it through researching customer insights or by tuning into their comments on the web.

The Innovation in Business Seminar is the second in a series of breakfast seminars run by the National College of Ireland to help senior executives gain a greater understanding of technology, operational efficiency and modern communications. StaffBalance and Openplain are based in the National College of Ireland Business Incubation Centre which is home to 14 innovative start-up companies working in the areas of finance, business and technology.