The Integrated Operation Center as a key Asset for Enterprise Resilience

Summary: Long-term growth and success for an Enterprise is based on a high-quality decision-making process. The deep interconnectedness and strong interdependencies of the operating environment makes situational awareness of internal and external events particularly important. The ability to detect, diagnose and manage events opens the path towards enterprise resilience. Resilience being the ability to adapt to and quickly recover from all types of events, incidents, and crises, while maintaining continuous operations. A key asset for enterprise resilience is an Integrated Operations Center (IOC).

Key points

* Optimizing decision processes within any type of event creates the basis for a resilient enterprise that can better adapt to and thrive in the environment of constant change.

* An IOC is an effective enterprise asset to better manage day-to-day and critical events.

* Eight success factors to create and sustain an IOC involves sustained C-level commitment and an ever-evolving Concept-of-Operations (Con-Ops) document.

Event Cycle

An event cycle must be viewed holistically. All phases are important, but detection and learning are perhaps most fundamental for success. Detection is vital as it represents the starting point to manage an event cycle. If an enterprise is unaware it has, or may have, a problem the response and recovery will be sub-optimal. Carefully mapping all potential risks and event types and analyzing typically present indicators and/or patterns creates a matrix of needed information sources for detection. Fusing and aggregating diverse information and data streams in real-time improves the ability for early detection of anomalies, undesired, or unexpected events.

As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools become more mature it raises the potential of increasingly precise event predictions and even the possibility of event prevention. Such insights will drive asset location, timing of operations and guide the mix of resources to best manage an event.

To be an agile enterprise learning is key. A requirement is structured reviews of events with rapid translation of lessons learned into actual change. As the operating environment is perpetually changing, the enterprise must adapt. Workflows, standard operating procedures (SOP’s), training methods, needed employee skill sets, and supportive technologies need to always be evolving.

Automation, digitization, and standardization

Embracing modern business practices and new technologies facilitates automation, digitization, and standardization. Automation of workflows, e.g., automatic collection and integration of previously isolated data sources within an event type allows an operator to make faster and better decisions.

Digitalization of relevant processes and information makes it possible to utilize advanced reporting methods and business intelligence (BI) tools for continuous optimization. Standardization of workflows, processes, technology and terminology is favorable to establishing performance metrics and makes it easier to use key performance indicators (KPI:s).

These practices support goals of operational excellence, being able to be increasingly predictive and preventative, and to become an agile and resilient enterprise. Being a resilient enterprise can be the difference of not only surviving a transformational event but thriving post-event. The goal of an enterprise is rarely to just get by, or merely survive, rather it is to offer its customers, owners, shareholders, employees, and business partners increasing value and reward.

Operation Centers

Operation Centers (OC) come in many different shapes and forms, depending on for example mission area and scope. What shall principally drive the development and use of an OC is the need, its operational and strategic environment, and the return on investment (ROI). For some entities it may be adequate to utilize a remote operating center, have a Cyber Security Center (CSOC) and be networked with a Fusion Center.

However, for enterprises with many employees, a large geographical operational footprint, operating in many different types of legal and security environments, has many stakeholders, depends on or is part of a global supply chain, or has a very public facing role it would be prudent to review the need and benefits with an Integrated Operations Center (IOC).

Integrated Operation Centers (IOC)

An IOC is a sophisticated and potent enterprise asset. It provides a framework, processes, and a platform that can dynamically evolve with the operational and strategic environments to facilitate enterprise collaborative decision-making. Main capabilities of an IOC are situational awareness, communication, resource management, and reporting.

An enterprise may already have several internal operation centers, e.g., looking at cyber, financial, or operational events and risks. But are these vertical siloes of excellence connected? Bridging internal information siloes and enabling enterprise collaborative decision-making is vital. An IOC can be the enterprise bridge and networking center to connect all relevant parts.

An IOC is not built over a day, but it can last a lifetime. A solid foundation is built on an innovative mindset, a dynamic governance framework, evolving processes, and utilizing supportive technologies. The IOC should be expected to change over time and become increasingly capable as new technologies are on-boarded, new data streams are fused and new users of its capabilities and outputs become connected.

Success Factors for an IOC

The success factors represent elements before, during and after the launch of an IOC. Time well spent is to first understand and agree upon why an IOC is needed, what value it shall provide, the expected Return-on-Investment (ROI), and a general mission statement.

Sustained involvement and commitment from executive leadership will be necessary to rally the enterprise to succeed with such a transformational project. A Concept-of-Operations (Con-Ops) document is vital to incorporate the ‘how’ with the more strategic building blocks of the ‘why’ identified above.

Involving a cross section of actual users early in the design and configuration phases is beneficial as it will allow capture of workflows and increase faster adoption levels as stakeholders will have a sense of ownership from the start.

Important to note is that it is not only users nearest an IOC that will benefit from its outputs. Discovery workshops can identify users of reports and new sources of information not previously considered that would support critical event management.

Let creativity and curiosity be a guide in the phases of discovery, planning, design, project, launch and support.

Happy to support an IOC project in any phase of your journey.

Lots more to unpack in this and coming articles on this topic.

Thanks for reading!