Improving business cyber defense                                                                                     By Charles E. Caldwell, CEO, GEM Analytics

What do you need to know about your data? More than you think. All of the data and information in your business can give you insight on levels and sources of risk, plus highlight opportunities. Executives know their business but can also learn more by managing analytics as assets. C-suite teams can gain a distinct advantage by learning how to apply data and advanced analytics to improve the use of capital and resources. CIOs cannot do all heavy lifting alone when they are maxed out managing systems and applications.

Running a successful business depends on how you create value. You must know how activity creates value to heighten the level of understanding. The lack of critical types of data is why companies fail to measure true value creation. Decades of research and public relations disasters reveal why businesses still need to learn how to manage vast amounts of data as an asset.

When thinking about this problem, consider how your business has evolved.  It has taken years of hard work to grow your business. Capabilities and practices are constantly being cobbled together to support operations. Complexity blooms as system and application functionality grows. At the same time, data and information multiply rapidly. Keeping up with this level of expansion is impossible unless you change your thinking about how to use your assets more wisely to drive growth.

Cyber defenses rely on how you manage data and information. Businesses need to modernize data architectures to enhance the use of data assets. Start the process by focusing on four concepts: who you are, what you do, what you need, and what you want. This might seem like Business 1.0, yet it is not. You will need focused insight and tools to manage your data and guide your transformation.

The baseline of measurement                                                                                                Your first step is to set a baseline of measurement to evaluate effectiveness.  This entails converting historical data and information into a framework to measure your value creation. This baseline model creates the foundation you need to align assets and resources to maximize value creation. Then it is possible to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) and  Machine Learning to enrich your information to give you more business insights. Advancing your business is easier once you benchmark state of effectiveness.

Business potential                                                                                                          

Better management of data assets creates an opportunity to reduce risks. Your best defense against being hacked is to improve your data architecture to reduce sources and levels of risk. Your business functions based on the products and services you deliver. Structure, process, capabilities, and decision-making of every business are different. There are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions. Once you establish a baseline of measurement, you create an opportunity to  “know” your business potential. Your mission is to optimize your business and to implement strategies to grow profits. This is possible when you improve knowledge worker productivity, lower costs and maximize the use of capital and resources. Opportunity to realize your business potential depends on how you use insight to develop and implement step-change strategies, solution roadmaps and action plan to modernize operations.

Activity to value insight      

The activity-based insight will help you to align capabilities, practices, and resources to optimize value creation. The objective is to optimize use of resources and efforts to increase returns for your business. Insight about how day-to-day work activities impact value creation can be game-changing. Gaining a new perspective about your effectiveness will help you focus on making the best improvements.

Business transformation is an ongoing process. Decision-making slows down and is often paralyzed by overwhelming amounts of information. This issue impacts innovation. Activity to value insight will help you improve business agility and expand returns on investments. Avoiding pitfalls that hinder work and degrade value creation is critical. This is why need to create activity-based insight is significant. See what you need to see to know how to run your business more effectively.

Risk Aversion                                                                                                           

By the time many businesses react to changing situations, it is too late. Reactionary management is expensive. In some cases, the lack of an appropriate response can put you out of business. Why would you not want to avoid adverse situations in the first place? Today, you can use new technologies to reduce risk. Of course, this depends on how you anticipate change. Getting in front of change creates an opportunity to preempt situations that can have an adverse effect on your business. Predictive data can give you a sizeable advantage by helping you improve your position to gain an edge.

To understand your problems, take a deeper look at your current situation. Look at what you are doing today versus what you could be doing to improve your positioning. Predictive data can help you model hypothetical situations to evaluate future areas of risk and opportunity. Taking steps today to avoid future risks can be substantial. Know what is possible so you can reduce risks and seize better opportunities.

Step  change strategy                                                                                                      

Step Change is the process and actions you take to leap into the future. Step change involves getting people engaged to realize the best opportunities.  Pulse Surveys are tools you can use to drive engagement. People do not like to change. There has to be a definitive reason to drive change. What’s-in-it-for-me concerns must be served to satisfy needs. The objective is to take a giant leap forward to be where you want to be to take the best advantage of your current situation.

Ability to implement the strategy is complex. How will you get your people involved?  What do people need to know to change perspective about their work? The answers depend on what people know and do not know. People are so busy working that they seldom think about how they work. Being busy and creating value is not the same thing. Predictive insight can be eye-opening. Sometimes all it takes is one “aha” moment to change a perspective. Strategy execution involves getting people to engage. Work must be meaningful and needs must be respected. Turning a negative situation into an opportunity is possible if you can change your thinking. Predictive insight makes change possible when people do the right things.

Data architecture         

One of the greatest challenges businesses face is data. Advancing technologies, globalization and growth of the Internet represent a few drivers that have changed how people work. Businesses that do not recognize and adapt to this change are at risk. Cause and effect are realities of situations and actions. Business structures must adapt to support the way people “need” to work. Removing structures and silos of business to make workflow more efficiently is vital. As information has grown, knowledge worker productivity has declined. People are working more hours and getting less done. This is because current data structures have become extremely inefficient.

Modern  data architecture                                                                                                 

Information growth has created a great amount of instability for business. When we analyze data structures, we discover that data and information is everywhere. Levels of redundancy, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies create risk.

Need to connect “data dots” between disparate systems and applications has built an unsustainable structure of data that is impossible to maintain and extremely expensive. The result – more and more businesses are getting hacked. There is only one solution, businesses need to simplify how they manage and use information.

Your opportunity is to focus on improving the quality and use of your data and information. Activity to value insight will help you quantify risks and costs as you model inefficiencies that affect your business. You need to develop a data architecture that meets the needs of your business. This is extremely complex and difficult, but possible when you know what to do.

Currently, businesses do not have the tools and insight to do this work efficiently. This is why this work is not getting done. Focus on learning more about what people do each day to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. The answers you need become more obvious when you know your data.

About the Author

Charles E. Caldwell is CEO of GEM Analytics. He is a performance management specialist with strong operations and development experience who provides thought leadership and subject matter expertise to executives, solution providers, project managers and consultants who need strategic insight, advanced data analytics, AI diagnostic tools and know-how to help businesses grow profits. Charlie can be reached online at (chas@glbvst.com, @chas628_gem) and at http://www.gemanalytics.com/