Achieving Business Invisibility

Business visibility has become one of the pillars of modern business management.  After all, in order to manage something, you first need to measure it.  An entire industry has emerged around business intelligence and analytics solutions that aim to make business information more accessible and “actionable”.

Business visibility is important at many organization and decision levels, and can take multiple forms.  Most companies are awash in data that can be used for management and decision-making.  Business integration middleware like the EXTOL Business Integrator makes it easier than ever to consolidate internal and external data (from databases, files, spreadsheets, EDI transactions, web services, and other sources) and automate data extraction, transformation,  enrichment, validation, synchronization, and syndication to internal and external destinations, in forms appropriate for either human or automated consumption.  Scheduling or triggering such data integration activities based on events can help make business decisions more timely and accurate.

Business integration technology also plays an important role in capturing data needed for business decisions.  Logging of information used for service level monitoring and improvement is a by-product of automating business-to-business, internal application, and cloud integration processes, for example.  Those same business processes can also capture business document payload data and associate it with processing actions and events.  And modern Web-based Dashboards can make the resulting blizzard of data comprehensible and useful.

There’s no question that having the right information available to the right people in the right form at the right time makes for more effective business decisions.  But is more information always better than less?  The answer, of course, is “no”.  Decision makers are most effective when their attention is focused on high-priority decisions and high-value information.  And business integration technology has an important role to play in maintaining that focus.

The fact is that a very high percentage of the data and activities in a typical business is inconsequential – even detrimental – to day-to-day decisions.  But a very small percentage of exceptions can be critically important – like unusually large orders that require special approval, delivery windows that call for expedited processing, or order response delays that violate service level agreements.  The typical business analytics solution is the wrong prescription for such “management by exception” cases.

Management by exception requires a different kind of visibility, one that is, again, offered by business integration technology.  Event detection, rules-based exception identification, data routing, and automated response processing (which might include email notifications, partner communications, application or web service requests, and other actions) make it possible to ignore the things that don’t require human attention – to achieve “business invisibility” – except where focus is truly needed.

So as you consider your strategy for achieving “business visibility”, thinking in terms of “business invisibility” might actually lead to more effective outcomes, especially if managing exceptions is important to you.

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