Navigating the ups and downs of the Australian solar industry is not getting any easier. Many of our programs and policies are teetering on a knife edge, the market is changing dramatically and the result is that the future is murkier than ever.
For businesses trying to survive, there are really two options. Option 1 is to plough on ahead. Work longer hours, push your team harder and hope your (internally focused) intuition about what the (external) market might do is correct. Option 2 is to get access to some high quality data so you can make more informed decisions, relying on independent analysts with an external view of the market and can draw insights from the data.
Yes, this is a shameless plug for our latest reports.
What you may not know about me is that when my teachers tried to explain algebra and the value of data to me many years ago, I stood up, threw my text books at them and proclaimed “there will never be a day in my life when I need this meaningless gobble-de-gook”. This confession might seem strange given that I’m trying to convince you that I’m an awesome analyst, but bear with me.
A few years later, I found my self working in the automotive industry as a fitter and turner. My job was to operate gargantuan multi-turret metal lathes and to make sure that the endless stream of parts spitting out the end were within tolerance so that your brakes didn’t fail. What I realised before long was that anywhere in tolerance was perfectly acceptable at that time; at the high end, the low end or in the middle all passed.
However, I knew there were things going on. I could feel parts tightening up on my gauge, but I couldn’t measure the variation, I certainly couldn’t see it and I had no tools to predict it. Every time I tried to second guess variation I’d either get it wrong and break an expensive machine tool or my leading hand would fling a massive spanner across the workshop hitting the machine just to the left of my head with an almighty noise that could wake the dead and scream at me about making my quota.
I was going mad. I wanted to understand why the variation was happening and how to get one step ahead of it; it just seemed like a logical way to make more parts that were within tolerance and reduce the endless bins of steel waste that every one else accepted as perfectly normal.
And then, all of a sudden, there was data.
I don’t know if it was because my leading hand wanted rid of me or because he wanted to get some sort of sadistic pay back on me for breaking so many of his spanners, but he nominated me to become the factory’s first ever Statistical Process Control Facilitator.
I nearly crapped my pants.
Before I knew it, I was in an office and buried in statistics, probability analysis, design of experiments and (gulp) algebra. My day was all about spending time on numbers with a tall guy in a short suit and massive coke bottle glasses. Life’s funny like that.
However, within a few short days a massive light went on in my head because for the first time ever I had been shown a practical, meaningful and staggering powerful way to use numbers to really understand things that affected me. I learned not only how to measure variation, not only how to predict variation, but how to drill down to its root cause, test theories through mathematical experiments and then how to plan for it in advance so you could control its impacts. It was a revelation.
So, from a very practical experience I learned that applied correctly, data is actually like a road-map. It can help you understand which way to head and when to stop before you go over a cliff. In the world of business, its a tool that can help you survive in tough times and blossom in good times.
That’s why I get all worked up about data.
The more volatile an industry is, the more important data becomes because the risks and potential missed opportunities increase; and so for those in the solar industry we work our geeky little tails off collecting millions of data points, doing experiments, running hypothesis and most importantly, applying a really liberal dose of practical, hands on experience before we draw our conclusions.
We’ve been doing analysis and forecasting for almost a decade now and spent five years focused on it through SolarBusinessServices. Our crystal ball isn’t magical but we do have a great track record and are getting better every single year. Last year for example, we forecast the market volume with 97.5% accuracy and micro inverter volume with 99.3% accuracy.
If you would like the tools to help make your planning, marketing, investment, expansion or contraction activities as risk free and well tuned as possible, get in touch and we’ll find a report for you that uses solid data as the foundation for wise market insights.
It’s how we roll.
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