Business is all about risk-taking and
managing uncertainties and turbulence.
This quote by Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani reflects the truism that businesses have always dealt with forces or events they can’t foresee or measure. They come from many directions—political, technological, economic, environmental, and even changes emanating from invisible viruses floating through the air. Data breaches, pandemics, recessions, and natural disasters cause uncertainty, as do new customer demands, changing government policies, and supply chain disruptions.
We often use uncertainty and risk interchangeably, but they are different.
Risk is the possibility of something going wrong. Business risk is the exposure of an organization to factors that can lower profits or lead to bankruptcy. You often know what those factors are and can assign probabilities to them. You can even avoid or control some of them. You can measure risk outcomes to plan for contingencies.
Uncertainty, however, is a lack of knowledge about something—you simply don’t know.
The uncertainty of events is just a truth of the universe you can’t bet on because you don't know its nature, when it will happen, or its rippling outcomes and unexpected consequences.
Uncertainty: Disaster or opportunity?
While uncertainty can spell disaster—just remember all the failed businesses and lost jobs cascading from the pandemic—it can also create opportunity.
The new challenge may force some organizations to try innovative ideas to survive. Or businesses may try delivering the same products or services in novel ways. Organizations can pivot their processes, strategies, or business models. Some may even shift their core products and services.
It’s the philosophy: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” You adapt and try to turn the tough situation to your advantage.
The key to being able to pivot is your mindset. No technology in the world can help you if you don’t envision what your next future could be. Business leaders must be curious, imaginative, and enterprising enough to spot the possibilities in uncertain situations.
Next, they have to put things in place, so their alternate vision of the business materializes—even if some choices or methods defy convention.
At that point, technology can really help. Once you’ve set your new vision and goals, data integration is part of the essential technology that will get you there.
Dealing with uncertainty through integration
Data integration enables reliable data connectivity, collaboration platforms, and learning systems for an agile organization.
Shared data systems unlock the potential to learn and adapt to new business situations.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon e-commerce magnate and the second richest man in America (net worth: $177 billion), has said:
There are two ways to extend a business.
Take inventory of what you are good at and
extend out from your skills. Or determine
what your customers need and work backwards,
even if it requires learning new skills.
Either of these approaches benefits from data integration to share the data resources necessary to forge ahead in uncertain times.
Resilience benefits of integration
- Better decisions. To reassess business goals and directions, you need timely, accurate insights. Integration connects data systems you can mine to feed into your analytics to help you make better evidence-based decisions.
- Real-time data synchronization. Done through cloud integration if a business needs real-time synchronicity, it ensures there’s no duplicate data on different company systems. It ensures consistency.
- Cloud services for remote working. Integrated hybrid and multi-cloud systems can deliver services to employees in any location, giving you more options. It opens the way for
- better digital employee experience (DEX) tools,
- streamlined management of many kinds of computers and mobile devices through a process called unified endpoint management (UEM), and
- desktop as a service (DaaS) for distributed work.
- Get the right skills to the right place at the right time. Integration can help by connecting your skills database to your HR information system of employee records. It can even connect to your talent marketplace if you have one. So, you can mobilize a team at short notice.
- Develop new skills solutions quickly. Use integrated learning systems and targeted skills accelerators to develop skills at the time of need. As a Gartner report notes, you can use current employee skills as stepping stones to in-demand skills.
- Redesign processes to deal with disruption better. Data integration can help. You may have to migrate legacy systems and merge their data with new cloud systems. Or you may need secure backups of data systems in case of an emergency or major incident.
- Respond quickly to customer demands. You can quickly forecast changes in customer demand by using integration-enabled tools such as
- predictive analytics,
- prescriptive analytics,
- scenario simulation, and
- early warning detection.
Making processes agile, scalable, and fully available
Max Liu, an expert in system infrastructure, states organizations continue to face data, privacy, and resilience challenges. He believes “there will be an increased focus on making processes agile, scalable, and fully available, moving from traditional databases into the future of data.”
He points to three trends he thinks will shape how we interact with and leverage data.
1. Democratization of chaos engineering
This is a process for testing a highly distributed computing platform’s ability to withstand random disruptions, ultimately improving its reliability and resilience. He sees this developing into Chaos as a Service.
2. Data as a utility
Liu thinks data should be treated as a utility, just like water, gas, and electricity. This can only happen with support from open-source databases, data integration, and modern data management tools.
3. The rise of cloud-native databases
Cloud databases offer enhanced data migration efficiency, intelligent data retrieval, and real-time insights. Liu notes these factors all aid greater data agility, reliability, scalability, and availability compared to traditional databases. He predicts more e-commerce and finance organizations will adopt cloud-native databases, and either do their own integrations or use third-party data management tools.
To endure and thrive in an uncertain world, timely data is essential. Integration lets you leverage that data to respond to changing times.
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