According to an independent study from research firm Vanson Bourne, organisations struggle to make rapid change and this is often due to a lack of visibility into what’s going on across their business.

The survey also showed that only eight per cent of 400 large organisations across the globe, report business information in real-time. As a result, without real-time visibility into of business activity, organisations can’t possibly determine what is or isn’t working and set the right course of action.

An additional 74 per cent of companies surveyed said they were overwhelmed by the amount of information flowing through the business. However, it’s not just about the volume. Information is delivered in reports and spreadsheets without the business context and more often than not, the information is historic in nature. So its relevance, if any, isn’t clear. Of course, if organisations can’t make sense of the blizzard of information and events impacting their business, it’s hard for them to know how to respond.

Furthermore, even in the unlikely event that organisations have a view into their business, they are unable to correct their course quickly in the event of changes to the business environment. Seventy-two per cent of those questioned admitted that their business processes take too long to meet customer demand. This shows that without having actionable insight or the ability to sense and respond immediately to the events that affect business activity day in and day out, companies are flying blind. In addition, without the controls required to continuously improve business processes, many businesses are stuck in the slow lane of commerce. With this in mind, it’s important that businesses of all sizes look to be operationally responsive. But just what is operational responsiveness and how best can companies ensure they run this way?

What is operational responsiveness?

Operational responsiveness is the ability where businesses can respond to changing conditions as they occur, enabling CIO’s to capitalise on more opportunities, drive greater efficiencies, make real-time course corrections and reduce risk. In an era of constant change and economic uncertainty, organisations face enormous pressure to optimise performance and maximise business results. By achieving operational responsiveness, businesses can gain the actionable insight they require to transform customer information, feedback, and even competitive, regulatory, and economic conditions into positive results.

Making the invisible visible

In order to achieve operational responsiveness, companies require real-time visibility. Many businesses struggle to gain timely visibility into what’s happening across their organisation. Indeed, as previously stated, many companies learn about problems from their customers. Not an ideal situation when we live in a world where customer satisfaction is more important than ever before.

A comprehensive insight into business events, transactions and operations as they occur is critical. This requires the ability to sense and respond - to understand how these events reveal opportunities, threats or inefficiencies. It also requires continuous business process improvement - so businesses can take what they have learned, analyse and optimise existing processes, and create new ones if necessary. Unfortunately, for many businesses, there’s often disconnect between business objectives and what information technology can deliver.

What should organisations do?

Having visibility to the business is one thing, having insight to sense and respond immediately to events in real-time is a big step on the way to being operationally responsive. The good news is that there is now technology available that empowers business leaders to anticipate and respond to threats and opportunities all from one interface. For example, the Progress Responsive Process Management (RPM) suite is a single business platform that allows you to gain end-to-end visibility, anticipate and respond to issues, and improve your business processes - all in real time.

This technology delivers real-time, comprehensive visibility into any combination of processes, transactions, events, and system-level information. This will enable organisations to determine what’s working and what’s not and set the right course of action. This technology also delivers visibility into the events happening across all layers of the business. An event is any occurrence that effects the day-to-day operations of your business, such as receiving an order, shipping a product, or an instance of fraud.

In summary, responsive process management technologies can enable businesses to be operationally responsive. Deploying the right technologies will allow companies to achieve a higher level of business performance. They will provide the ability to respond to changing conditions and business events as they occur, allow businesses to capitalise on commercial opportunities, reduce risk and drive greater efficiencies in their organisations.

Dr Giles Nelson is chief technology strategist of Progress Software