Risks & Metrics Mistakes

The Frustration of Metrics for Big Businesses

At least compared to in the past, General Electric (GE) is in dire financial straits right now. According to the Economist, “Its shares, cashflow and forecast profits have dropped by about 50% since 2015.” In a post at Gartner, Andrew White discusses the implications, and the unique challenges that come with metrics in big (and maybe even not-so-big) businesses.

Failing Metrics

There could be any number of reasons why GE’s position has fallen, and the only thing everyone agrees on is that the precise reasons are currently known. The Economist outlines eight different ways that GE’s metrics are failing them, such as that GE does not assess its business on a geographical basis, and GE’s various operating divisions discuss their profits in exaggerated terms. White is not sure if GE’s problem is that they do not have enough metrics or that they have far too many metrics, congesting each other into being usable. He also muses that GE may be so big that its metrics are just incapable of telling a story at an overarching level, and that its metrics are best employed at individual, localized scales.

But then he adds this:

GE is a household name and American Icon. We all hope the firm puts its house in order but the maddening thing here is that the message of the article is not unique to GE; it may just be magnified by its size and complexity. Many firms struggle with meaningful metrics. Having the wrong signal can lead to the wrong decision. Additionally the lack of data, or if the data used to create the analytic is untrustworthy, [it leads to an untrustworthy result]. This situation is widespread.

White offers some recommendations for improvement. On the analytics side, you should target one outcome at a time—the “senior-most” outcome. Test, learn, and grow over time. On the data side, look to preside over the least data that can make a big impact. This data should of course tie back to the aforementioned outcome.

For further thoughts, you can view the original post here: https://blogs.gartner.com/andrew_white/2018/02/05/the-maddening-thing-about-metrics/

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