The Importance of Seeing the Whole Picture

Taking a Step Back to Find Value

Recently, I took my daughters (four and five-years-old respectively) to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. While there I found time to teach them a valuable life lesson. As we walked around, we came up to one of my favourite paintings, Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Before they saw it, I asked them to close their eyes and I brought them over to stand right in front of it.

When you look at a small section of some paintings up close, particularly abstract art, you might not think you see anything particularly skilful, nor even artful. Sometimes, it looks just like a series of dots or points on a canvas, seemingly randomly applied. I’ve often had the thought when looking at paintings ‘up close’, “Well, I could do that.”

I asked my daughters to open their eyes and tell me what they saw. “Dots. Different colours.” I asked, “Anything else?”, they said “No, just colourful dots.”

I asked them to their eyes again and I walked them backwards a couple of feet. Then I told them to open their eyes. It wasn’t until they took a few steps back from being so close that they saw a beautiful painting.

My daughter’s facial expressions ranged from shocked, to amazed disbelief, to trying to understand what was going on. These expressions are the same ones you’ll see at multiple levels of an organisation when they’re shown the “whole picture” of their business. Many industries today are facing the challenge of not being able to see the whole picture across their enterprise and not being able to make decisions because of sparse data.

Adding Value, Not Complexity

So, given the above challenges, how can businesses start to see the bigger picture? Rather than looking in bafflement at the bits and bytes that make up a larger whole, how can they take a step back to find more value? These are certainly urgent questions for organisations across the asset intensive industries where creating a coherent view of the whole is key to understanding markets and ultimately building business advantage.

To address these challenges, visualisation and workflow solutions are coming on stream that connect data across the whole enterprise and provide users with actionable insights to drive decision-making and foster collaboration.

When you have several siloed applications, your employees will have to spend most of the time acquiring a complete data view from multiple, disjointed sources. Additionally, they will be bogged down with re-entering the information from one system to another, which will take time away from their core duties.

The key to avoiding manual, duplicative work is to ensure that your core business processes are seamlessly integrated from the front office to the back office.

The latest tools enable this by bringing structure and control to data aggregation and process management that extends across the enterprise. Automation enables teams to work more effectively, spending more time on the things that matter to their core mission: analysis, decision-making, compliance and quality.

Hybrid cloud-based software integrates teams, data and processes into a highly automated digital flow of work and information. This enables companies to accelerate the delivery of large capital projects and also make a step-change in operational capability and compliance.

The latest technology can also address a number of organisation-wide issues, including lack of data control, the inability to influence, inefficient working practices and lack of visibility. These are critical to resolve, as they can result in everything from frequent cost and schedule overruns to capital being tied up unnecessarily and from lack of predictability to more operational overhead and inefficiencies.

You always want to keep the lines of communication and information open. The inability to communicate, miscommunication and providing incorrect data are key reasons organisations become stagnated in the decision process, for fear of making the wrong decision.

 Realising the Potential Across the Enterprise

An efficient organisation is one that is saving money and utilising assets effectively. Its staff and operations/projects are in the best situations to perform in the best manner. Without efficiency, the organisation is nowhere near as competitive as it should be to stay in the game, let alone get ahead of it.

The latest solutions address this by enabling businesses to

  • Improve enterprise performance management by optimisingefforts and resources to improve operational excellence, project efficiency and asset performance
  • Gain actionable insights by identifying high-value data needed to make informed strategic decisions for the enterprise
  • Transform work processes and drive collaboration through an automated, seamless flow of information to manage workflows and make decisions across functions

This technology does more than aggregate data, perform analytics, and provide an enterprise-level of visualisation. It takes the “next step,” effectively moving beyond visualisation to recognise the importance of collaboration and the digital workspace, as well as initiating or triggering a workflow from within the software and handling change management.

Taking a Step Back

By connecting data across the enterprise with a visualisation and workflow solution, the latest technological approaches provide actionable information to drive better collaboration and better results.

Just like my daughters at the museum, we need someone or something to help guide us in seeing the larger picture so that we can appreciate it. When you step back and look at your entire enterprise — the “whole picture” —  you see how all the small individual elements of it need to fit together with other pieces to create something masterful.

About the Author

Jason Villarreal is Senior Product Marketing Manager at Aspen Technology. Jason is a results-driven and strategic marketing leader with over 15 years of experience providing solutions in the consumer, oil and gas, and technology industries. In his current role, he is focusing on customer lifecycle marketing that harnesses the power of our connected offerings to deliver exceptional value.

Featured image: WavebreakMediaMicro