By Darren Pierce
5th November 2012

Living in Boston during Hurricane Sandy has given me a fresh perspective on the importance of current and accurate data and the organizational imperative of being agile. While I can certainly count myself lucky to have avoided the brunt of the storm, and without intending in any way to diminish the plight of so many individuals directly impacted by it, the storm clearly had a big impact on many organizations, even those well beyond the storm path.

When one thinks about organizational impact, we naturally think about insurance companies and businesses shut-down by the storm, such as airlines and local retail outlets. But how broad was the impact really? According to Santa Monica, California-based Edmunds, “Sandy’s strongest impact occurred on the coastline from New Hampshire to Virginia, putting a halt to car-buying activity at about 1,000 auto retailers in New York and New Jersey alone, dealership consultant Urban Science said. Typically in October, the last seven days generate more than 30 percent of industry sales.” This was considered to be the leading cause for automakers having missed analysts’ average estimates for U.S. sales in Bloomberg’s October survey. In contrast, Sandvine  reported that broadband traffic from a city directly in the Hurricane’s path increased by more than 114% over typical traffic for this time, and Netflix increased its traffic by more than 150% between 9am and 5pm. It would seem that once peoples’ homes and families were secured, many turned to watching movies!

These statistics got me thinking about how these organizations, if they were truly agile, might be looking to respond to the impact of the event “the day after.” For car dealers and manufacturers, who are likely to be eagerly preparing to reap the benefits of the deferred purchases from October, what special promotions might help? Enticing customers through social responsibility promotions? Perhaps playing on the fear factor and looking to convert sedan sales into SUV sales? I’ve no doubt there are countless ideas and research activities into which set of actions might assist in best capturing the deferred sales opportunity. But one thing is certain -- the organizations that are going to fare the best will be those that are re-evaluating their historic plans for November and are responding to the latest information about their market. In other words, they are being an agile business.

One thing I find surprising however, is that some think that the necessity to sense and respond with agility to new threats and opportunities is something that organizations have to do only on rare occasions such as during the above natural disaster.  As Oded Shenkar of the Harvard Business Press writes in his book Copycats: how smart companies use imitation to gain strategic edge; “An imitation lag that was twenty years in 1961 was down to four years in 1981, and down to twelve to eighteen months by 1985” and that “Imitations of the phonograph showed up in thirty years, whereas compact disc players were imitated in three.” I would think since most of us have witnessed the exponentially faster adoption of digital music and tablets, we all recognize the phenomenal pace of change occurring in the markets around us.

So what does this mean for the “decision support technology” that is used in organizations today? Do organizations expect the same processes and tools to deliver exponentially more agility and responsiveness? I believe we are witnesses to the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way organizations are approaching information management in response to their desire for increased business agility. They are turning to disruptive tools and processes to attempt to better equip themselves for an ever increasing tempo of decision making. Look around at the disruption that’s occurring from Big Data, Cloud Computing, Hosted Applications and Solutions, Database Appliances, Agile Solutions and Engineered Systems.

I believe the organizations that are going to be the most successful in this new era of information driven decision making, are those that are investing in innovating within IT to support identifying and maturing new business models and optimization opportunities. After all, if you were an executive with a company in Hurricane Sandy’s path, what priority would the following thoughts have gone through in your head; “Are my employees safe? Is my data safe? How will this storm impact our business results?”  Business executives are demanding a different tempo for answers to questions that impact the business, and the list of questions is only getting bigger.

I believe the solution lies in deploying a different technology paradigm and agile methodology, to the information management space. To find out more about this technology shift, read about the DNA of an agile enterprise and the next generation of information provisioning at: http://blog.kalido.com/

Blog by Darren Peirce - Chief Technology Officer at Kalido 

Darren is responsible for assessing Kalido's technology direction and evaluating new technologies in support of Kalido's strategy.

If you would like to be our next guest blogger, please get in touch with Gemma Morris

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