Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Business Survival Skill I: Recognizing Important Patterns

If a business hums along and misses important patterns and trends, it is in mortal danger in today's world. It can mean a loss in business revenue, reputation and opportunities. Obviously, there are many events and patterns that organizations have to sort through to stay successful. This posting will focus on key pattern detection and the technologies that can help sort through the onslaught of events, data and information.

Business Patterns: 

Opportunities, Threats and Noise:

Organizations need to be able to sort out the key patterns from the noise that is constantly bombarding them from multiple traditional sources as well as social outlets. Filtering out noise makes finding the key gems of interest. Once the big rocks are stripped away, the good ground can be sifted for patterns of threat. Threats have to be considered first to defend organizations immediately. Opportunities can often be developed on a slower time line, but not always.

Simple and Complex Patterns:

Organizations can be easily fooled into thinking that any one event is not germane for attention. This is why more data needs to be held over time, looking for pairings of events that may need attention. This will require think through the patterns and combinations of events that make sense to look for over time. This requires thought about the policies, rules and constraint boundaries to use as screening mechanisms.

Expected and Unexpected:

Smart organizations leverage scenario planning to establish the patterns of highest interest, that point to the expected, probable and reasonably possible scenarios. Even with the best of planning, there will be occasional unexpected scenarios that might emerge. Smart organization envision unlikely scenarios as well and are looking for the odd exceptions and unexpected trends and correlations.

Technologies Assisting Pattern Detection:

Complex Events: 

There are established technologies that combine rules with events to look for patterns over time. This is a crucial base technology for pattern detection. This will only get more important as we link to the "Internet of Things"

Big Data in Memory:

The ability to gather and hold simple events is greatly enhanced by big data. For organizations that want a big view and high speed, big data in memory is a must.

Real Time Activity Monitoring:

Believe it or not many patterns are caught by visualizing patterns in monitoring business activity. While this works better in a slower and simple world, it is still quite effective. Organizations that are deep into speed and complexity, there is a need for additional technologies.

Process & Exception Management:

Quite often the early signs of an emerging pattern occurs in the exception grates of processes. It is easy to assign exceptions to skilled knowledge workers to complete case work, process  management that highlights and points out unusual exceptions is a growing trend.

Listening Agents:

Like scouts in war conditions, specialized listening agents that contain logic for ferreting out patterns can be deployed upstream or in the collective. This way patterns of interest can be sensed early. Agents generally combine the function of many of the assisting technologies listed in this section.

Mining & Activity Analysis:

Smart organizations are constantly optimizing and mining their favorite sources of data and process actions to look for emerging better practices as well as for patterns of interest. This a rapidly evolving set of technologies combined to find work patterns.

Data Transformation & Integration: 

Tapping into many event, data and information sources, normalizing them through transformation and merging them to be available to analyze is an important base technology

Net; Net:

There are compelling business reasons for finding patterns in order for organizations to survive, thrive and capitalize. There are emerging combinations of the supporting technologies, coming from one vendor that are gathering interest. These are know as process platforms (AKA iBPMS) that support intelligent business operations.