There’s a classic episode of the American television show Seinfeld called “The Comeback” where a main character, George Costanza, is in a meeting, eating shrimp as quickly as he can. A coworker quips, “Hey, George, the ocean called and they’re running out of shrimp.” George, caught off guard, has nothing to say. He thinks of a response after the meeting has ended, and becomes obsessed with recreating the moment so he can respond with, “Oh yeah? Well, the jerk store called, and they’re running outta you.” Of course he fails.
The true moral to the story becomes, “Once the moment passes, the response loses context and relevance.”
The ability to come up with the best response too late is called l’esprit de l’escalier (staircase wit in English, or colloquially, as a comeback). We’ve all experienced coming up with the best answer after leaving a conversation, already having reached the bottom of the staircase and knowing we can’t go back. We slap our forehead and say, “If only I’d thought of that in time.”
Likewise, companies that lack strong process management, integrated systems, social media tools and sense and response technology have their own version of this playing out every day and it has an outsized impact on operational decisions and responses.
A great comeback
Over and over, post mortems in business reveal timely information and better process management should have molded enterprise response to a business challenge. A lack of integrated technology and process systems often leads to unclear information and poor choices, delayed responses, and worst of all, poor response to customers and opportunities left on the table.
Integration merges relevant facts and paints a picture of the situation that allows for an ability to sense a challenge, and respond with urgency and accuracy. For retailers, it is the opportunity to discount merchandise to match a competitor before the customer decides to shop elsewhere. In healthcare, it shows up as looking beyond temperature and blood pressure to react to life-threatening situations that don’t fit typical patient risk patterns.
There are endless examples of how integrated data improves service, captures opportunity, and avoids the constant risks businesses face.
It is the business equivalent of the “perfect zinger.”
This first appeared on The TIBCO Blog and has been lightly edited.