5 things to know about enterprise visualization

Posted: May 07, 2024

You can plan for the known unknowns. It’s the unknown unknowns that will land industrial organizations in trouble. Without sufficient context and predictive insights, industrial operators have no way of knowing what they don’t know, which can leave them vulnerable to unwelcome surprises. They will fail to seize new opportunities and they will fail to address incoming challenges that fall outside their range of awareness.

As an industrial organization, the most effective way to broaden your range of awareness is through effective enterprise visualization. There’s a diversity of perspectives on enterprise visualization as an enabler of successful operations, and the role it should play in an organization. Let’s start with the basics. Here are five things to know about enterprise visualization:

1.      Who are the intended users?
Industrial enterprise visualization users range from the board of directors to subject matter experts (SMEs). This range spans from inside the enterprise to users out in the ecosystem beyond, such as joint venture partners and contractors.

2.      How does enterprise visualization help them?
These diverse users are all tasked with discovering opportunities and identifying challenges, which requires specific recommendations and approvals that accommodate a cross-organizational structure and can adjust plans on the go. With sophisticated enterprise visualization, users can easily access the broader context, such as similar activities, which informs and accelerates their decision-making. As a result, they can identify opportunities and challenges, develop feasible recommendations, and implement effective action— much earlier. 

3.      What are the types of industrial enterprise visualization?
Over the last eight years, six types of enterprise visualization have emerged:

  • Physical value chain visualization, which brings business managers, value chain SMEs and executives together in a large room to review and approve value chain plan modifications.
Enterprise visualization
  • Virtual value chain visualization, which brings recommended value chain modifications to the business managers, value chain SMEs and executives virtually, wherever they may be working.

  • Physical and virtual value chain visualization combinations, which use both a large physical center and remote collaboration through laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablet devices.

  • Physical center of excellence, which brings some of the SMEs and the SME coordinators together into a large room to address aspects of industrial performance, such as availability, emissions, yield and efficiency across sites and among similar pieces of equipment.

  • Virtual center of excellence, which enables a pool of SMEs, some of whom are based at work sites and others at home, to work as a team on industrial performance improvements and challenges.

  • Combinations of physical and virtual center of excellence visualization, which use both a large physical center and remote collaboration among SMEs and their coordinators through video walls, laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablet devices.
Combinations of physical and virtual center of excellence visualization

4.      What do users need in an enterprise visualization solution?
As early as possible, users need sufficient context, including predictions and forecasts. Working without this forward-looking context is like trying to steer a car with just the dashboard and rearview mirror.

Users need visualization solutions that are simple to use and simple to navigate. They also need solutions with appropriate automation, so that they can bring work to the worker, wherever their workers are located via their devices (including the use of two different devices at the same time). Finally, enterprise visualization solutions must empower users to clearly answer up to 22 questions, rather than just the two questions traditionally available to industry: What happened? What is happening now? See all 22 questions in the diagram below.

enterprise visualization solution

To effectively visualize diverse information, you need to go beyond bar charts and pie charts. Effective enterprise visualization solutions combine maps— both rigorous and cartoon-like— as well as 3D views, flowsheet diagrams, trends and a variety of graphical summaries to suit the users’ devices and the types of information in question.

Effective enterprise visualization must offer the simplest means to find and navigate information. If the solution isn’t simple enough, users will simply abandon it. Navigating from one area of the enterprise to another, or zooming in, must not require re-navigating many software applications. In some cases, without enterprise visualization, users may find themselves navigating upwards of 60 applications.

Visualization by itself isn’t enough. The solution must be integrated with a collaboration function or else the users will fall back to their old methods: calls, chats and e-mails, none of which possess tracking, benchmarking or adequate analysis capabilities.

5.      What makes a visualization solution “industrial”?
Enterprise visualization solutions have embedded industrial functions, such as automated data quality management, time-oriented and spatial-oriented information management tailored for industrial use cases, and a library of templates for information and visualization management that requires only minimum programming. Additionally, the self-service configuration of visualization and analytics helps users minimize project and IT ticket activities.

To solve complex challenges, you need to use your data to its maximum effect. That is, in short, exactly what enterprise visualization is designed to do. By strategically converging information, industrial organizations can empower their teams with enhanced awareness, quicker response time and better, faster decision-making. 

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