Steps to Real-Time Enterprise Situational Awareness

Better decisions require information that is actionable, trusted, and timely.

To connect decision-makers with high-quality information it is necessary to launch an integrated operations center (IOC). Creating an IOC will bring real-time enterprise situational awareness. It is a critical step towards eliminating harmful data and information siloes that block effective information sharing.

An IOC will act as an enterprise control tower that facilitates and strengthens collaborative decision-making.

The current and future operational business environment is increasingly complex, fraught with risk and with growing interconnectedness and intensifying global competition. Decisions that are wrong, delayed, sub-par or not taken at all has consequences for the bottom line, share value, customer perception, brand reputation, and the health and well-being of people.

There is a limit to what insurance policies, general risk management principles and business continuity activities can accomplish. To offset growing business risks and take advantage of opportunities executives should cultivate a resilient enterprise. That means having business processes that can adapt and perform optimally in any circumstance.

The motivation is to become proactive, even preventive, and stop being blindsided by disruptions, chased by emergencies, and numbed by cascading consequences of a crisis.

Risk managers, business continuity experts and operational leaders, supported by C-Suite executives, need to work more closely together to plan for and implement resiliency measures.

Two main areas require investments. First, perform detailed process-tracing, mapping, and analysis of all enterprise workflows to understand dependencies and interdependencies. Identify in particular information sources that in isolation or in a combination can provide strategic notice, early warning, detection, or awareness of any anomalies within these processes.

Secondly, invest in event management software. Event management is an innovative software solution that sits on top of existing systems to automate integration, fusion, and distribution of information from basically any source. By connecting workflows and information within this platform makes up the core of an IOC.

Practical steps

1. Map enterprise risks, vulnerabilities, and consequences.

a. The risk map should be all-hazards, internal and external looking, including events by ill-intent, natural disasters, technological failures, man-made accidents, and black swan type of events.

b. Perform horizon scanning to include potential future disruptions based on developments of technology, societal trends, and geo-political developments.

c. Identify data and information sources that can indicate and/or confirm that an event within a risk area has occurred, is imminent or a potential outcome. Be innovative in identifying these sources and by understanding chains of data links to come close to sources that can feed enterprise situational awareness.

d. Identify how detection of anomalies or occurrences outside the “normal” can be captured in real-time or as close as possible and how such alerts can be transmitted to and from the IOC.

2. Map enterprise workflows.

a. Identify functions (position and people) and assets that operate within these workflows.

b. Identify and map data and information sources, internal and external, that can inform about the history, current state, progress, and forecast of a workflow or asset.

c. Categorize and prioritize workflows in terms of criticality and importance for the business.

d. Include mapping of dependencies and interdependencies between workflows.

3. Assess and decide event triggers and escalation points within each workflow.

a. Every event trigger and escalation point indicate a potential disturbance or actual deviation from expected or desired behavior that requires some type of enterprise involvement.

b. Use data and information sources identified in steps 1c and 2b as conduits of state changes that when connected creates enterprise-wide situational awareness.

4. Combine and overlay the enterprise risk inventory and the inventory of workflows to configure business rules in the event management system. The starting point can be the most critical enterprise workflows, or it can be workflows exposed to the most serious risks. Or it can be a combination.

This is a big undertaking, but it can be done in small and methodological steps.

The result will be a holistic view of enterprise workflows and can be used to create real-time situational awareness within the continuum of events, from day-to-day operations, to emergencies, disasters, and crises.

Embarking on this journey supports the goal of operational excellence by becoming increasingly predictive and preventative, and ultimately an agile and resilient enterprise.

This will be the difference of not only surviving a transformational event but emerging to thrive post-event.

The connected information and data environment will support operational optimization and can provide the foundation for data-driven business strategy decisions.

The next article will explore common capabilities that enterprise event management software provides.

I welcome comments or questions on this article.

If you and your organization need support with this kind of project, I can support you.