Putting sensors into a process is relatively cheap and easy, and it feels good to gather more information on your process to build a more detailed picture. However, it takes time and energy to install the sensors, link them to the network and then process the output data into something that is actually meaningful. Surveys have shown that organisations use less than half of their available data to make decisions. If you aren’t using the data, you must start to question its’ value.

Rather than deploying sensors everywhere and anywhere, businesses should take a strategic approach:

  1. Define the business goals with a focus on customers
  2. Narrow down the inputs that are directly correlated to the outcome
  3. Ensure alignment with the customers’ needs.

If a parameter is critical to quality for the customer, then measure it! If you need to know certain conditions to plan maintenance, then measure it. You need to be able to separate out the measures that are essential to run day-to-day and those which are needed for deeper analysis and troubleshooting.

Competence, confidence, leadership: understanding and using data

Data is only useful if drives a better understanding and leads to positive change, so the first thing to ask yourself is, can I trust the data, is it representative of the process, is it accurate and precise enough? If you are happy with your data, you need to unravel its mysteries and use it to describe what is going on.  This means the way that we visually present the data is very important and we need to understand the patterns in data and how they relate to the reality of your process. This should be used to create transparency of the process at all levels.  Operators should be able to look at the dashboard and not only recognise what is going on but believe it accurately reflects the process. This builds confidence in using the data.  Confidence allows data to be used effectively and this is where the magic happens – use the data to drive the decisions.  Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis, use the data to drive actions remembering it is about hitting the business target.

Contrary to belief, there is no value created from generating insights, the value is only generated when you make a change. To create value, it’s not about the amount of data you collect, it’s not even about the insights that come from the data, it’s about the changes that are made from the data-based decision making. You can have information; you can have knowledge but taking positive action drives value.

Businesses should be looking at how they are creating a culture that takes action and drives change. A huge part of this is making it safe to fail and if you are going to fail, do it quickly so that you can learn.

It is a fine balancing act between having enough information to make good choices for moving forward, whilst at the same time not sitting on your hands until data is 100% available. So, risk mitigation and risk awareness within the team will allow for action to be taken sooner and benefits to be realised quicker. To understand and manage the risks you must have the right team to make these decisions. People are more important than the data, they are what will drive the actions to go forward, they are who make the changes and they are who add the value.

To learn more, watch our video.

Greg Kinsey


[email protected]

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