To evolve or stagnate

Hamlet’s soliloquy, in the Shakespearean play that bears his name, essentially questions the value of life. “To be, or not to be, that is the question”, he begins as he waxes lyrical about our powerlessness: that living is a passive state, subject to the whims of fortune; and dying an active one whereby we reclaim our control. Yet, potent as his melancholic speech is, I proffer an alternative to our “helpless” existence.

As human beings we are subject to a variety of strong motivators: love, necessity, status, fear, etc. One of the most powerful driving forces, though, is an inherent one: evolution. Present in every biological system, it’s what motivates us to create and pro-create. It fuels our curiosity, spurs us into action and challenges us to explore the unknown and expand beyond our perceived limitations. Without it we human beings would never have travelled anywhere or invented anything. So perhaps the more pertinent question is not whether to live or die but whether to evolve or stagnate?

When it comes to business, the landscape is changing so fast – and of course, COVID-19 has had a significant impact – that I hope this question is at the forefront of your mind. Alongside others, of course, such as, “How can we stay ahead?”. Technology is a big game changer in today’s competitive environment. Real-time streaming analytics, graph databases, Machine Learning (ML) and capabilities like geospatial analytics all have the potential to support your business goals – and that list keeps growing. But do you even know what to look for?

Perhaps the easiest way to start is by listing your requirements. When big data is involved your list might look something like this:

We need to:

  • Stream data in real-time.
  • Unify all of our data sets and weave them into a single data-fabric.
  • Have Lambda architecture to process batched and real-time data feeds.
  • Store and index big data.
  • Analyse data in real-time.
  • Provide insights from that data for decision making.
  • Connect our data to analyse the relationships between data points and data sets.

But you’ll probably also need to visualise the information and to disseminate the resulting intelligence to relevant parties. Or maybe you want to factor in location data to inform your general overview, for analytical purposes or to enhance the targeting of your Marketing Department. Perhaps you wish to locate a suitable site for a new store or micro-fulfilment centre. Knowing where your customers are when they purchase would be beneficial when considering its positioning. So you need to add a geospatial component to your list.

So that’s the first hurdle, but there are still quite a few more to go.

Technological physiology

There is a software system for each of these requirements but do you know which ones are going to work best for your company? Or perhaps, more specifically, your digital ecosystem? If you’re still running on legacy technology then you need to consider how additional systems impact your processing power. Of course, once all of this has been selected the next question is, do you have the expertise to put it all together in one workable solution to deliver to your specific business goals?

It’s like someone giving you the different systems in the human body, cardiovascular, digestive, nervous, respiratory, skeletal, etc. and asking you to put it together yourself. I’m sure even a doctor would be hard pressed to create a fully functioning autonomous person without some serious help.

But let’s take the pressure off for a moment.

Survival of the fittest?

Survival of the fittest

We’ve all been fed the evolutionary concept of survival of the fittest and as a biological trend in nature it makes sense. However, humankind doesn’t really fit the bill – at least, not any longer. If it did we wouldn’t have developed incubators or advancements in foetal surgery; nor, of course, would we be interested in prolonging life with ventilators, vaccinations or life-saving operations. We wouldn’t care about cancer treatments, gene therapy or for that matter, any kind of equality or social welfare. If we really adhered to this doctrine of survive or die, then medicine would not have evolved at all and we wouldn’t bother about what happens to anyone outside of our immediate “tribe”.

For human beings at least, evolution does not revolve around this concept, except for when it suits a certain corporate narrative. But even that is changing as more companies realise the value of relationships, not just for profit but for the well-being of their staff and the community in general.

So what does evolution actually mean to the human race?

To evolve or stagnate

Generally, human beings are innately curious and natural problem solvers – our childhood development is an endless process of trial and error. So we can’t help but innovate – even if it is accidentally. Whilst it might not be a ground-breaking invention, we continually find ways to improve ourselves and our lives. Perhaps it’s a quicker route to the office, a better way to organise our homes or improving our health and fitness regime. We just can’t help it!

However, we also have an in-built caution from our survival days that causes us to cling to the familiar and the comfortable. This natural tension between a desire for change and sticking to what we know creates an inner paradox. The problem is that technology has advanced at such a rapid rate in the last couple of decades that we are still adapting to the new when something else arises to replace it. So our fear of making the wrong choice is at an all-time high. At the same time, others who are less inhibited keep ploughing forward. That’s all well and good in our personal lives, we can plod along at whatever pace suits us, but we don’t have that luxury in business. If we can’t keep up with the pack we will fall by the wayside, licking our wounds and waiting for the inevitable.

What’s the solution?

Start by taking a deep breath. Yes, fear of change is natural. Yet in this case, we only fear what we don’t know or can’t control. However, we also fear missing out and being left behind – another internal paradox. We love the excitement of the new, the endless possibilities and the promise of our dreams being realised. So how can we find the right balance? By addressing what we fear, which translates to understanding the new and taking things one step at a time. But that might be a big ask, especially when it comes to grasping all of the technological facets at our disposal.

Another problem? Not really when there’s a simple solution. Obviously, a system that could do everything would be ideal and if it could do even more, then bring it on! But we need to break that down to allay the fear.

So, let us return to your list of big data requirements. What is your perfect solution?

A system that:

  • Can fulfil all requirements.
  • Works with legacy technology.
  • Is quick to implement.
  • Won’t break the budget.
  • Can evolve with your company.

Does that sound like something you’d want?

Let’s see how our graph analytics platform, Locstat LightWeaver®, measures up:

  • Can fulfil all requirements. ✔
  • Works with legacy technology. ✔
  • Is quick to implement. ✔
  • Won’t break the budget. ✔
  • Can evolve with your company. ✔

If we return to the element of fear, you have an understanding and now, you have control over what happens to your data as well as your company. So there’s nothing to fear!

Don’t box yourself in!

To evolve or stagnate

It’s easy to go for what you know and, of course, it’s safe – or at least it feels that way. So let’s address the traditional systems that seem to offer the same thing. The standard marketing script runs along the lines of, “We can provide the business intelligence or oversight that you need to understand your operations and achieve your business goals.” Sounds very promising, doesn’t it?

But we’ve done our research and we know that this catch-all statement doesn’t deliver to the same extent that we can. Maybe that sounds boastful, however, we originally developed our platform for military use. So we had to ensure that the multitude of capabilities required were delivered upon in an appropriate, effective and timely manner in any digital environment. When lives are at risk, you can’t take any chances with empty promises.

Nearly all of the current systems require some additional tech-savvy effort on your part, remember our human body analogy? Or they have limitations like an inability to factor in additional data sets so you still end up with siloed data; lengthy fixed term contracts; expensive outlays because they’re not “home-grown”; or are simply a standard downloadable application that whilst suited to your industry is not specific enough for your particular company.

For example, do you want any of these?

  • A recommender system that provides general recommendations not personalised ones or segments your customer base but can’t assess for churn. Or maybe it does but your loyalty or rewards scheme data isn’t factored in so you miss out on vital opportunities to enhance customer experience and minimise avoidable attrition.
  • A production line solution that provides predictive maintenance and monitors KPIs yet won’t accept third party data sets from your time and attendance software without some nifty technological manoeuvring on your part. But it does determine costs… oh but we’re changing to Activity Based Costing, which is more accurate and we’ll need new software for that.
  • A ‘control tower’ view that provides end-to-end supply chain visibility but can’t calculate the financial implications of exception events or their impact on customer service.
  • A fraud prevention system that monitors for the usual threshold transgressions, but can’t determine black-holes or volcanoes and rapid network growth and connectivity. Perhaps it provides customer authentication but has a high rate of false positives or is unable to sufficiently connect the data in fraud rings to catch the ringmaster.

Any of these options will result in the need to update your software in a couple of years’ time. Alternatively, you just have to put up with the limited scope that they provide for the foreseeable future.

With Locstat LightWeaver® all of the functionality is there, you provide the consciousness to bring the body to life, which means you are in control. So whilst it is a next-generation, leading edge platform, it is not unknown or scary. We use the best technologies to handle big-fast-connected data, layered in a unique architecture to provide the multi-faceted capabilities that will take your company into the future, today.

So again, we return to the question of whether to evolve and embrace the new challenges or to stagnate and wither away in safety? The answer is obvious and the only thing constant is change.

To evolve or not to evolve is not the question.

The real question is when?

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