Anonymously sharing business information about a business’s performance can potentially deliver huge benefits for those participating.
The information being shared must be truly secure and also must be accurate and properly managed.
What is anonymous sharing?
In this day and age businesses have become very comfortable sharing confidential information.
This sharing is subject to two requirements:
- Assurance that individual data will remain totally confidential.
- The participating business receives something they see as being valuable in return.
It is human nature in competitive environments to want to know how others are performing.
Every business wants to know what their peers or competitors are charging for services, what they are paying staff, how competitor profitability compares to their own profitability and more.
Anonymous sharing of business information allows managers to fulfil this need and in doing so identify their own strengths and weaknesses thus improving their own business performance.
What can be shared?
The reality is there are an enormous number of key information areas that are desirable to share.
Popular sharing options include:
- Fees and prices
- Wages and salaries
- Financial performance
- Production KPI’s
- Business metrics
- Sales / Performance metrics
Fees and prices are a good example of business where almost everyone wants to know how they compare.
The reality is we ALL price shop at some point. It may be on groceries, cars, fuel, motor vehicles or anything else for that matter.
Businesses traditionally researched using clandestine activities such as fake phone calls or silent shoppers to find out what competitors charge without divulging their own position.
Interestingly enough their competitors were doing the same thing.
Anonymously sharing fee and pricing information is a much more efficient and accurate method to acquire this key business intelligence.
Segmentation and profiling
One of the keys to successful sharing of information is the ability for participants to clearly identify with whom they wish to compare.
Most industries have a wide variety of participants.
Segmentation should be based on factors relevant to each industry.
These segments may be based on criteria such as:
- Size of business
- Type of business
- Types of clientele
The participating business submitting anonymous data needs to be confident that they will be comparing their own business to other similar businesses.
Each participant should have the ability to choose their own segmentation profiles from a prepared list.
Is all benchmarking anonymous?
Traditional benchmarking used to involve completion of worksheets and returning these to a central point where they would be somehow collated to produce generic data.
This processed usually involved multiple people, multiple locations and plenty of opportunity for security to lapse.
Quite frequently these forms were not accompanied by any form of Privacy Statement.
This was neither efficient nor secure.
Those on the cutting edge of design nowadays offer benchmarking facilities that involve direct entry into fully secure and private portals.
This does not necessarily mean that supplied data is anonymous!
Unless the supplier specifically states in their Privacy Statement how the privacy works then it has to be assumed data is NOT secure.
Many companies have extensive Terms and Conditions that involve a significant amount of legal mumbo jumbo that we give up reading and just accept.
If you take the time to read these terms and condition in full, quite frequently you find not only is your supposed anonymous data not anonymous but often you have inadvertently assigned the ownership rights for the anonymous data over to the provider to allow them to do whatever they want with the data.
Is online more secure?
When properly set up online entry of confidential information is more secure.
A secure private portal allows managers to enter information directly without the need for third parties to be involved.
If the site processing the information is independent of the industry involved there should be no conflict of interest.
It is important that a clear Privacy Statement is available and should be read.
Privacy Statements should be concise, in plain everyday English and unambiguous.
Information should clearly state that any information entered on the site will only be viewed by the person actually entering the data and no individual data will be shared with anyone.
Avoid long winded Terms and Conditions which involve many pages of legal mumbo jumbo that in the end you just accept because it is too hard to review adequately.
Trusting the provider
It does not take a lot of research to make a reasonable assessment of a provider of sharing services.
Usually open websites, privacy statements and extensive experience are good indicators of reliability.
Summary: Key requirements for all online data sharing
For the newcomer a few key points to tick off when offering or accepting and online data shaing system:
- A secure online portal - where only one specific contact person from an organisation controls site access, data entry and report collection
- Privacy statement - clear and unambiguous
- Adequate segmentation –allowing end users to select profiles that signify who they wish to be compared to.
- Basic provider health check – really to ensure they are who they claim to be. It does not have to be overly comprehensive just some simple checks to make sure you are happy with what you are getting.
For more information about Anonymously Sharing Business Information
- Visit Business Benchmarking Solutions website at www.benchmarkingsolutions.net
- Contact Rob White at email@example.com