Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Fifth Dimension in Visualizing Business

These days many businesses are so focused on "the bottom line" and acquiring new clients that they remain blithely unaware of 2 critical cues that are right at their fingertips. Information over time. In architecture, adding time and data to the 3D visual landscape of horizontal (x), vertical (y) and depth (z) ... allows us to sense where issues will arise that need anticipation.
We call this "5D visualization".

For a long time now I have had a hard time impressing upon clients the value of their customer data ... especially when reviewed over time in context with business activity. Wall Street knows this well ... and pays religious homage to "historical" market trends. Looking at the past does not always translate to a vision of the future ... but at least it frees us from duplicating past errors.

For example; in working with commercial architects, developers and realtors it became clear that much of a property's worth is not visible to the naked eye ... but is critical to it's value nonetheless. Tax rate fluctuations, changing traffic patterns, economic trends and even styles of design "fashion" can make or break a commercial property investment. Infrastructure such as plumbing, air conditioning and amenities (health spa, public spaces, parking) are changed and updated over time ... for better or worse.

As we look at other industries, there are also "unseen" values at work. Good marketers and managers seem able to anticipate trends ... not by accident but instinct based upon a feel for these intangibles. Colors & styles come in and go out of fashion. The public appetite fluctuates for media and music, autos and political messages ... but can be at least partially anticipated by stepping back and taking the "long view" and taking personal emotion out of the equation.

Try a "5D" method on your own business if you don't already ... besides sales, inventory and competition, sit back and take a moment to see the time and information trends in your own gains or declines. Look across external factors that you may not have looked at before. Politics, fashions, music, technology ... all reflect undercurrents that have to be reviewed in context to your unique situation. Trends need to be isolated from the background noise we get caught up in for us to understand the "why" of where we are.