Learn how integrated business management systems can help promote operational resilience and facilitate greater visibility into mission-critical information

Following the unprecedented disruption of the past year, many business leaders stated intentions to increase the resilience of their organizations. However, given the complexities of today’s supply chains and business technology environments, many are still unsure where to start. After all, today’s managerial processes are still widely driven by factors pertaining to short-term financial performance rather than long-term resilience. Because of this, few businesses have managed to factor in resilience as an integral component of their operational infrastructures.

If the past year’s events have taught us anything, it is that many businesses and industry sectors are far more fragile than most people ever imagined. Many companies have ceased doing business entirely, while others have struggled to recover mission-critical functionality. A few, on the other hand, have thrived under these new circumstances. Yet regardless of which category your organization falls into, achieving high operational resilience is essential for preparing for an increasingly unpredictable and dynamic future.

What is an Integrated Business Management System?

More than ever, business operations revolve around and depend on the availability of quality data. Informed decision-making no longer belongs to the realms of extensive manual research and educated guesswork. That said, the underlying complexity of today’s business technology environments makes it difficult to achieve high levels of efficiency and resilience. For example, the average enterprise now uses around 1,300 cloud services, many of which have their own databases and lack interoperability with one another. At the same time, the formation of data silos ends up disrupting the interdependencies between different business departments.

Integrated business management systems (IBMS) seek to eliminate disparity by combining all aspects of an organization’s systems, processes, and operational standards into one system which streamlines management, enhances productivity, and most importantly, boosts resilience. In other words, all mission-critical business apps use the same database, which means every department has access to the same information. This promotes operational resilience during both normal and interrupted operations in a number of important ways, which we will explore below.

Understanding and Proactively Reducing Risk

You cannot protect what you do not know about. Given the complexities of today’s information technology environments, it can be notoriously difficult to identify every risk and vulnerability in the organization. Many systems go unmonitored, leading to an incomplete view of how well the organization manages the unique set of risks it faces. As such, multiple single points of failure start appearing to the point where an otherwise minor disruption can result in far-reaching consequences.

An IBMS also facilitates integrated risk management by consolidating all data assets in a centralized system which can be monitored methodically to track governance objectives, risk ownership, and compliance with internal company policies and compliance regulations. When business leaders have a comprehensive view of all critical business functions facilitated by a single database, they can address issues faster without overlooking critical factors.

Enhancing Mission-Critical Business Processes

Every organization is, fundamentally, a collection of five interdependent parts that flow into each other. These include value creation, value delivery, finance, marketing, and sales. These may be further broken down into interdependent business processes, such as financial analysis, human resources, governance, and technology.

In any business, people, assets, finance, and time all work together (collaborate?) to produce information, and that information requires governance to derive maximum value from it. If there are multiple conflicting sources of information due to a lack of interoperability between different systems, then it is just a matter of time before problems start occurring. By using an IBMS, all business information can be governed holistically. In other words, every department has the same information, meaning there is far less scope for confusion and disruption.

Developing Robust Recovery and Remediation Procedures

Most organizations fail to reopen following a major disaster, often because they lack suitable business continuity planning. It is, after all, far harder to protect complex infrastructures from the multitude of potential threats and even harder to remediate if something does go wrong. Many businesses have far too large a technology footprint, which means it is inherently more complicated to protect everything.

Achieving maximum operational resilience requires paying close attention to several factors, including business services, impact categories and tolerances, communications, and testing. An IBMS unifies business services by bringing the information they depend on together in a single database. This allows administrators to develop a single set of procedures and recovery tasks and assign accountable parties to oversee remediation procedures.

This approach offers a stark contrast to the older, siloed way of doing things, in which different departments and branches were often responsible for handling their own business continuity processes. By centralizing operations in an integrated ecosystem, there will be fewer single points of failure and just one set of assets to backup, monitor, and recover if something goes wrong.

Tackling Dark Data for More Accurate Analytics

Dark data refers to any informational assets that an organization collects, processes, or stores during its routine operations but generally fails to leverage for other purposes. Dark data is typically the result of a disparate information environment, in which organizations get stuck in the collection stage and do not have the infrastructure or other resources to analyze and use it. That said, dark data often has enormous potential for driving business process improvement and achieving greater operational resilience.

Since it is a practical impossibility to manually delve through all data an organization collects in the era of big data, businesses must consolidate their informational assets to apply proper monitoring and auditing controls. An IBMS keeps all business data under the spotlight to keep decision-makers informed with a consistent flow of fact-based insights. This provides them with the opportunity to react quickly to changes and adapt to periods of sudden, unexpected disruption. In other words, the ability to maintain complete visibility into all operational data is the key to maximizing resilience at a time when business challenges and demands are anything but predictable.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mitch Mitchell

Mitch Mitchell is a founder at ContinuSys, a company that develops integrated business management systems for Australian and New Zealand enterprises looking to eliminate information silos and build resilience against disruptions. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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