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5 Ways To Make Your Data Actionable

May 21, 2019

All data should be actionable — here’s what businesses can do to make it so. 

Up to 73% of data generated by businesses goes unused and unanalyzed. That’s the reality in today’s day and age, where most businesses find it easy to understand the importance of data, but have a hard time converting it into meaningful action. Conceptually, it’s a no-brainer: Data gives executives visibility, understanding, awareness, and the ability to predict and respond to issues that need addressing. This concept, however, does not align well with a reality wherein data alone cannot produce actionable insights. Data serves as nothing more than the (crucial) resource from which intelligence can be gleaned and action taken. In short, data doesn’t matter if it isn’t actionable.

The directive for businesses that have already established a solid data infrastructure is to activate it. The process by which this activation takes place will vary from one business to the next, but there are a number of fundamental steps that all organizations can take to make their data actionable.

 

1. Make It Real-Time

Many companies claim to offer “real-time” data, but the definition of this concept often depends on the context in which it’s applied. Does real-time mean this second? Five minutes ago? Yesterday at 4 pm? In some cases, near-real-time data is enough to inform important decisions; in other cases, it has to be effectively immediate.

True real-time means instantaneous, and it enables businesses to make important minute-by-minute decisions. For instance, in the case of a shipping company, real-time data could mean the difference between a shipment that arrives on-time and in top-quality condition, and one that arrives hours late with spoiled products. Tools like temperature and humidity sensors can help protect perishable cargo, but only if the right people are provided with the data they need to take action.

 

Unused Unanalyzed Data

 

2. Make It Accessible

Even if organizations collect the right data in real-time, they run the risk of wasting it whenever it’s not made available to the right people. To make data actionable, it has to be accessible to those in the best position to act. Moreover, it needs to be communicated with as little friction as possible between users and their information. To visualize and communicate data efficiently, businesses should develop a common operational picture (COP). A COP is crucial for public safety and military operations, but it can also streamline processes for a variety of other industries. Ultimately, a common operational picture will serve to ensure that users in collaboration are working from the same “single source of truth” — and that their own unique “picture within a picture” is appropriately tailored for their specific role and circumstances.

A COP typically pulls data from a variety of sources, such as cameras, remote sensors, and GPS. Its applications are numerous and highly variable depending on the industry. For instance, a ski resort could use weather data to shut down slopes before they become too dangerous for patrons. In the case of an accident, resort managers could also use a COP to direct first responders to the scene, enabling them to coordinate with security and emergency staff as needed.

 

3. Contextualize It

Data must be put into context. This generally means utilizing a single dashboard that displays the information that is most relevant to the task at hand. From a unified platform, decision-makers can manage and take action on their data.

In terms of public safety applications, tools like Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) systems can help security teams develop situational awareness. These platforms serve to provide real-time insights by integrating different feeds from sources like sensors, cameras, and facial recognition software. Facilitating inter-departmental collaboration, on the other hand, often requires more flexible platforms to effectively ingest and display information between different parts of an organization.

 

Make Data Actionable

 

4. Activate It with a Situational Awareness Platform

Collecting the right data and sharing it with stakeholders is only part of the puzzle. Data that is truly actionable should be both dynamic and predictive. A situational awareness platform can help businesses turn real-time information into timely, and even proactive, responses.

For instance, a city manager looking to reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions may consider investing in a smart street lighting project. A situational awareness platform has the power to manage auto-dimming functions, integrate data from motion sensors, monitor traffic conditions, and more. In this way, SA technology turns smart street light data into tangible cost savings and safety benefits. The platform can even track performance data and predict when maintenance will be needed.

 

5. Plan for the Future

As their needs evolve, businesses should be able to pivot their focus and adapt to changes in the marketplace. To accomplish this, companies need a platform that is cost-efficient, but also flexible and easily fitted to existing operational workflows. Application Platforms as a Service (aPaaS) provide robust development environments that give enterprises of all stripes and colors a healthy balance of pre-built infrastructure and the ability to build custom solutions. An aPaaS allows for rapid development timelines that cut costs and speed up time-to-market.

For enterprises looking to balance time and budget considerations with the need to build innovative applications, situational awareness aPaaS can streamline each stage of development, giving businesses greater control over product development, especially if they don’t have the resources or risk-tolerance required to build apps from scratch.

From transportation to smart city projects, technology can help decision-makers turn vast quantities of data into actionable insights. As data proliferates, the scales are tipping away from the prerogative to get more data toward that of making that data actionable. With the help of emerging technologies, enterprises can ensure their data is precise, accessible, and actively contributing to meaningful action.