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Do you have access to facts? Commercial capability in an era of ‘alternative truth’

March 5, 2017

Information is critical to business influence. In business, unlike in the world of politics, facts, not opinions, are increasingly demanded to support decision-making. Yet for most of us in legal, procurement or contract management, reliable data remains elusive – and that in turn limits our ability to operate strategically and exert influence.

Those are among some of the early conclusions from IACCM’s on-going study on information enablement (to participate in this study, click here). It is clear that organizations are mostly struggling with inadequate and fragmented systems support – in part because they are caught in a cycle where the lack of data means that it is hard to make the business case for investment in the systems that would generate that data. But the biggest barrier may be our own attitudes; survey participants feel that commercial functions need ‘a general mindset shift towards efficiency and effectiveness’ – in other words, many may not yet have grasped the importance of driving change and the need for data to support it.

Today, the survey tells us, there is growing availability of information about compliance rates (especially within Procurement), but the sort of data that could transform the commercial functional role is still hard to find and extract – for example, obligation analysis and tracking or insight to term and condition norms in the market.

There is no consistency in where such information is gathered and stored; most organizations do not have a point of consolidated ownership and whatever data is available will typically be scattered across multiple and disconnected systems. Without a clear champion for change, it is hard to see how improvements will occur. Yet for those few who have taken steps to consolidate information, the benefits are obvious. They are seeing increased agility, greater speed and quality of commercial support to the business, and overall reductions in costs. They are also able to act more strategically and exert greater influence over business decisions.

Overall, the survey results show that the commercial community appreciates the critical importance of information enablement to themselves and to the business. They also recognize that needs are changing, with a requirement for more information, better analytics and an ability to look deeper within individual contracts and across portfolios of agreements. But they continue to struggle with how to progress because they remain fragmented along organizational lines as well as through the diversity of underlying technology infrastructure. Most have multiple systems, very few of which are internet or mobile-device enabled. Therefore information entry, collection and dissemination remain at best problematic and at worst impossible.

With today’s need for more agile and adaptive trading relationships and growing urgency for business to be more commercially innovative, information enablement promises to be an increasingly critical issue. If you would like to compare where you stand in the competitive race and to receive a copy of this important report, participate in the survey at

Of course, there is another road that leads to fame and fortune – that is to manufacture ‘alternative facts’, traditionally the preserve of poor and dishonest sales people. But ultimately, is such a path sustainable and will it not prove destructive?

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