Nov 14, 2018

Critical decision-making in changing times

Control Room 5 min read

Big data. Real-time computing. Streaming, high-definition video. Decision makers have never had greater access to precise information, but the high volume of it presents both challenges and opportunities. What does the coming era of intensifying intelligence mean for decision makers and the capabilities they need to plan for?

Technology continues to give us greater visibility into decision criteria that we never accessed or analyzed before. Indicators that used to be lagging are now accessible in real time, and leading indicators are becoming more thorough, predictive, and instantly available.

With input like this, decisions should be easier than ever. But almost all of the deeper data goes unused, and attempting to grasp these new insights can be overwhelming. Meanwhile the volume of what we’re expected to monitor continues to grow.

To overcome these challenges, organizations must get the right information to the right stakeholders in a climate where demands and capabilities continually evolve.

Redefining information: Automation, Big Data, Machine Learning and more

Fully informed, real-time decisions increase operating efficiency and effectiveness, for any industry and public service. Opportunities are growing fast to make decisions based on more insightful data sources, expanding the scope of critical decision-making (CDM).

Dries Van Nieuwenhuyse critical decision making expertBut not all decisions require the same level of input. Dries Van Nieuwenhuyse (pictured right), Researcher Fact-based Decision-making at HOGent (Belgium) and a thought leader on the role of technology and statistics on decision making, divides CDM into three levels: strategic, tactical and operational.

At the operational level, people make instant and short-term decisions. Tactical managers think medium-term, while strategic decision makers need a long-term view. Each has different needs for the input of information and how to best visualize it.

“People are made to believe that they must react instantaneously. That’s not always the case,” said Van Nieuwenhuyse. “In fact, at the strategic level, reacting immediately is almost always a bad idea. These kinds of decision makers need insights on a longer time horizon.”

Streaming analytics: opportunity and paralysis

For operational levels, the focus is on now. For making decisions the same day, within the hour or even seconds, streaming analytics clearly have a place.

Van Nieuwenhuyse adds that emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can be useful tools in these contexts, because they allow for more data to be analyzed, more patterns to be made clear.

But he says that such sources are not always useful for strategic decision makers. Presenting leadership with similarly streaming analytics creates an artificial time pressure and even more difficult decision making.

Critical decision making in the field

Safety and security adding to volume of input

The expanding scope of safety and security adds to the volume of data that decision makers must now consider. Many commercial and public

Industrial settings are addressing vulnerabilities that extend all along their supply chain, not just at the factory. Public event organizers now understand that secured areas should extend not just within the stadium, but to the public transport lines feeding into it and adjacent parking lots. Environments are continually in flux, and in different circumstances, phenomena requiring the most attention can vary. facilities are monitoring their facilities and surroundings more intensively. Today transport and logistics, energy infrastructure, emergency rooms and crisis centers, heavy industry, as well as entertainment, hospitality, and retail environments realize that unmonitored security puts them at risk.

Select the right decision criteria

Decision makers on every level can use a more comprehensive view, but only if it’s presented with what’s important to their area of work in ways that are easy to interpret. If not, people can be overwhelmed and paralyzed by detail that is needlessly abstract.

Selecting and presenting the right decision criteria takes expertise and insight. Despite continual advances in technology, “There are no miracles. Technology can play a good role, but it needs tuning,” said Van Nieuwenhuyse.

More isn’t better. To work fast and effectively, decision makers only need the relevant information.

Collaborative decision making

“Organizations are realizing that the correlation of data is sometimes much more important,” said Van Nieuwenhuyse. “In the past, one expert could reference five reports and deduce how the company is running. But today we expect that the data will be automatically generated and put in a context so that others can view and visualize it. Past boundaries are virtually gone.”

The need to collaborate extends now externally as well. Because responsive security is now top of mind, organizations are beginning to appreciate that they need to be able to share an optimized amount of video, images and data easily. They must be able to select what information is critical and to who, and process it so that it is usable and easily interpretable, whether they’re in-house or external.

Mobile, ad-hoc environments

Whether they’re first responders or leaders, the right mix of video, images and data must be available where they are at the moment of crisis, on the devices they have at hand.

To be effective, capabilities for external sharing are a must. Crises require immediate dispatches to responders on the scene and the surrounding area. Critical information must be immediately readable and actionable beyond the organization.

Control roomSmart Cities and interoperability

Even if Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) seem like distant abstractions, companies and public institutions are moving to the Cloud and getting ready for a new era. As these capabilities become more widespread, what stakeholders should access and how they should see it will evolve.

Systems must now prepare for more universal interoperability. As the push for Smart Cities intensifies, it will be expected that data and information be available to multiple ecosystems. Governments and publicly funded organizations are going to continue standardizing their communication requirements, and those standards will include inter-agency compatibility and more sophisticated capabilities in root cause analysis. In the short term, local tenders will more commonly specify these Smart capabilities.

CDM capabilities to plan for

Automation and new uses of data will free up resources to focus on more critical processes and decision criteria, but care must be taken not to overwhelm users with the net increase in information.

Barco’s products and services offering supports collaborative and more effective CDM, addressing each of what we call the Four Quadrants of Decision-Making.

  1. Control rooms: network visualization-based and designed for optimized CDM
  2. Operator digital workspaces: eliminate barriers to human decision-making
  3. Field teams: support personnel on-site or in transit with critical information in modes that allow them to decide and act
  4. Breakout rooms: enable critical decision criteria to be escalated to agile situation teams for focused resolutions

Effective CDM needs a modular, network-centric approach, with an enterprise-grade media distribution platform. The right partners can help you

  • anticipate technical industry needs
  • find operational efficiencies enabled by visually enhanced decision making
  • understand system limits and potential

Are you interested to know more about Barco's critical decision-making offering? Then visit us at ISE 2019, February 5-8 at the Amsterdam RAI.

And, as a special treat, we give you the opportunity to reserve your ISE 2019 ticket on us, free of charge! Simply use the link below and click the "REGISTER" button. The Barco invitation code is 703630.

Get your free ISE ticket

Information enables decision making only if it is meaningful to the user, efficiently and visually presented, and shareable with all stakeholders.



Dries Van Nieuwenhuyse is thought leader on the role of technology and statistics on the decision-making processes of organizations. He has a focus on the interactions and collaborations between Strategic, Financial, Business and Analytical Intelligence. He helps organizations in the areas of Business Intelligence Strategy, fact-based change management and coaching.

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