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How To Improve Your Organization’s Situational Awareness

March 27, 2019

To improve organizational situational awareness (SA), identify and resolve critical knowledge gaps with solutions tailored for your personnel.

From e-commerce and healthcare to energy and logistics, businesses today face mounting pressure to make use of vast quantities of data. With 90% of global data created in just the last two years, the connected economy affords organizations ample opportunity to learn about every aspect of their business. Individual customer transactions, long-term industry trends, operational performance — data can shed light on all of these areas.

Making heads or tails of this data is no small task, however. In many cases, relevant information is not used to its full potential. In fact, according to Forrester, up to 73% of the information generated by businesses goes unused and unanalyzed. One reason for this data waste is that much of it is not “real-time” data. In fact, just 15% of the data produced in 2017 was real-time, according to an IDC report. However, IDC projects that number to increase to 30% by 2025. As key decision-makers across organizations face the binary challenge of gathering valuable data and making it actionable, they will increasingly rely on real-time data to help solve this dual directive.

Alongside an emerging focus on generating real-time data that can be put into action, organizations will need to invest in situational awareness (SA) capabilities. SA allows businesses to convert real-time data streams into actionable insights, enabling timely, well-informed responses. Improving situational awareness requires a purposeful approach with discrete stages of planning. Together, these steps ensure you effectively identify critical knowledge gaps and resolve them in a way that aligns with organizational objectives.

Objectives

First, identify the mission at hand and establish your overall objectives. These goals should, naturally, be concrete and readily achievable. For example, if you’re in the manufacturing sector, you may want to improve performance on your factory floor. This is a specific, reasonable goal — one that you can actually achieve by combining operational technologies and sophisticated data analytics with SA software.

Intelligence

After you’ve worked out your primary objectives, you should identify what it is you need to know in order to achieve these goals. If you’re looking to improve efficiency on your factory floor, then it follows that you’ll need to know what exactly is causing subpar performance in the first place.

This may seem like a rudimentary step, but it’s an important one. If organizations don’t articulate the type of intelligence they need in order to correct inefficiencies and prevent systemic bottlenecks, it’s increasingly likely that they won’t collect actionable data — data that can actually lead to a solution.

Data

The insights that SA platforms (should) reveal are only as good as the data streams they’re ingesting. Organizations that fail to collect data that can actually be applied to the mission at hand won’t be able to identify the issues and hindrances SA could otherwise address.

For example, improving factory floor performance may rely on analyzing the location of your employees throughout your facilities. Depending on the industry, it may also be helpful to monitor the temperature and humidity levels at certain parts of your supply chain. Accordingly, you’ll need to collect humidity data if you’re going to be able to make effective decisions about internal operations. Otherwise, you’ll be reduced to guesswork.

Technology

Once you’ve identified the data points that will help build situational awareness, you’ll need to deploy technology that can effectively collect that data, connect to your network, and feed that information to the right applications and users.

If you’re monitoring temperature and humidity levels, you may opt for sensors that do just that in critical locations on your factory floor. If you’re observing employee distribution, you may rely on smart cards or smart cameras. You’ll also need to decide whether these devices will process data at the edge, in the “fog”, or in the cloud.

Common Operational Picture

In order to establish true situational awareness, everyone on your team needs to be on the same page. A common operational picture (COP) can help ensure that the relevant data reaches the right people at the right time. By establishing a single source of real-time information, businesses can react with agility to any challenges that might arise.

For instance, if your goal is to efficiently manage your organization’s ground delivery times, drivers in the field need to remain aware of each other’s movements and be notified when loading docks are free. Managers should be able to keep tabs on all products, and even use IoT technology to monitor their status and condition in transit. By integrating this data in one accessible location, a COP enables team members to work together to achieve their objectives.

Improve Organization-Situational Awareness

Implementation

At the end of the day, any project designed to improve your SA needs to be something that you can actually implement, with clear objectives and a COP that brings all moving parts together. A blueprint to solve supply chain issues on your factory floor is essentially useless if it leaves you perpetually stuck in the conceptual planning stages.

To get your plan off the ground, look for an application platform you can build on — one that’s able to leverage your existing infrastructure and make your data actionable. Look to acquire clear-cut intelligence into the performance of your operation — and a platform that helps you orchestrate the next step: implementing solutions against that intelligence.