The Covid-19 crisis has suggested to me that the software we develop could support some organisations responding to it. There’s a dilemma here however. This is because, in Gavurin’s normal business life, we eschew behaviour which could be interpreted as promotion in the face of emergency. We’ve discussed this dilemma a lot in the last few days and decided to press on to explain what we mean – all the time recognising that we tread a fine line.
In making this decision, we know that our ability to support organisations is not the same as re-engineering ourselves to make pipettes where once we made perfume bottles. We cannot directly support the Covid-19 effort. But the coronavirus crisis has put more data in front of more people than ever before and the thirst for informed analysis has never been greater.
It is those organisations struggling to meet the demand for informed analysis that we have in mind in what follows. We have them in mind because we detect similarities between these organisations and those dealing with Covid-19.
Those similarities include the need:
- to scale resource speedily (because more informed analysis is demanded by more people)
- for good governance (because poor analysis and sloppily created content can be dangerous),
- for adaptability (because unanticipated events require sudden changes in direction) and
- for system reliability (because someone or something must watch over everything, constantly, 24/7)
Because, if ever there was a time for informed analysis, comment and advice, this is it. And there is a thirst for it. The charts and numbers are all very well but for most of us, a graph is an alien drawing. We need words to interpret them.
As I note above, this piece is not about how our software can directly support attempts to address the coronavirus crisis. It is about how our software can support those creating content to inform us, effectively and efficiently, at scale, about the crisis.
Meeting demand for ‘Informed Analysis’ of Covid-19
For many organisations in the analysis & content creation business, the Covid-19 crisis exposes fault lines in their ability to scale. In this, their experience is much like those faced by health providers, government agencies, equipment manufacturers and others.
When faced by a sudden, extreme, largely unexpected event, that people want informed analysis of, how is it possible to speedily ramp up supply to meet demand, safely?
Speedily scaling resource is challenging
Globally different outcomes require globally distributed resource
A seemingly obvious point perhaps. The health impacts of Covid-19 have been different in different countries. They have been different within countries; sometimes the differences within borders are greater than those across them. The same is true of the socio-economic impacts and so therefore must be the analysis of them. Analytical resource must be ‘on the ground’ and there must be a globally efficient system to manage that resource.
In this context, the definition of ‘scalability’ captures the ramping up of a globally dispersed analytical resource.
Covid-19 teams are trying to do precisely this. For example, small labs joining a network of labs, temporary health centres, epidemiology expertise and so on all attempting to work together for the first time or in pursuit of a new objective.
In the case of analytical resource – perhaps newly recruited freelancers on the ground contributing to the analysis and content creation effort.
But temporary resource must be closely managed
However, human resources in place to meet a temporary spike in demand, have some common characteristics. They’re unfamiliar with organisation convention and they are possessed of less experience than established resources. This means that they must have less autonomy than the established resource; they require more control and supervision.
Ironically, the imposition of controls works against the requirement to scale speedily. So, having systems in place to mitigate the brakes on scale that control imposes is crucial.
More than this, inexperienced resource will be imposed upon an analytical environment that is itself new and alien to the organisation. For example, in the fast moving, globally distributed environment we currently face, monthly updates are useless. Daily analysis has become the minimum requirement.
Our software (Gavurin PbI) makes this easer: it automatically produces draft content, to a defined schedule, based on the latest data, ready to edit by an identified analyst, located anywhere, who is notified of the task and the time frame in which an edited draft is to be submitted. No human intervenes in this process, and will not, until there is an updated draft to edit / approve / publish.
Existing resource is at risk
A crisis of the scale of Covid 19 means that people are subject to substantial stress and may drop out of the resource pool suddenly. ‘Scalability’ means having systems in place that enable the management of resource substitution, fast.
Our software (Gavurin PbI) makes this easer: Gavurin PbI tracks resource deployment and speedily identifies resource to substitute for unanticipated gaps.
Governance. Governance. Governance.
Covid-19 exposes the danger of rushing to produce results: for example, testing kits that don’t work or, worse, produce false readings. ‘Governance’ in all its forms is fundamental.
The same is true of informed content. Analysis of socio-economic impacts is needed fast but mistakes can be profoundly damaging directly, and reputationally for those creating it.
Business decision makers are not epidemiologists. They take decisions based on the best informed analysis they can lay their hands on. ‘Governance’ in the creation of that analysis is crucial. Ideally, transparent governance. Traceability is crucial.
Good governance can save livelihoods, perhaps lives. And software can support good governance.
Our software (Gavurin PbI) makes this easer: Gavurin PbI has sophisticated and robust role-based permissions. Every piece of data and content is traceable, as are all changes to both and everything surrounding them. WIthin minutes, a content element (be it a number or a paragraph of text) can be identified as having changed, who changed it and when, and in some cases, why.
Adaptability is not a luxury – Covid-19 makes it the new norm
Our experience of Covid-19 reinforces the need for ‘adaptability’. Examples include moving from the manufacture of high fashion to making protective clothing; moving from making vacuum cleaners to ventilators.
In the world of fast-moving socio-economic analysis, the data that’s necessary for this day, isn’t the data that was used for yesterday. This crisis also reinforces the need for granularity. As we’ve already observed, Covid-19 impacts countries differently, and crucially regions within countries more so.
This means that new data must be up to date and accessible. And ‘old’ data must be re-visited because even thought its usefulness is questionable for the steady state, it might come into its own for the state we’re in today.
If the data must be adaptable, so must be the analyses
Similarly, the analyses must be adaptable also. The chart that was useful for the steady state, isn’t the one for the volatile state we’re in now. Analytical systems must be able to adapt to fast evolving situations with speed and accuracy.
Our software makes this easer: Gavurin PBi API’s manage data input effectively and efficiently. Analysts have governed access to that data which they can change with traceable justification and approval. Because PbI is linked to Gavurin’s Business Intelligence suite an analyst can swap out charts, maps and tables within seconds so that people making decision can have have the most up to date analysis on which to base them.
The ‘machine’ must work – day and night
The crisis which engulfs us exposes the frailty of those who govern us. They get tired; they may succumb to Covid-19 themselves. The brain simply cannot accomodate all the variables.
Let us assume that, in the face of all this, you are confident that your systems are globally efficient, they deliver robust governance, they’re scalable and they are adaptable. In other words, my comments above are superfluous. Your organisation is coping; it’s delivering.
If that’s so, you must be confident of one final thing. You must have faith in your system reliability. When you start it up, you must rely on it never to close down.
As I write this (April 2020), our software has delivered uniterrupted service for a period in excess of 5 years. We’re not complacent – something could go wrong tomorrow. But, there’s something on which to base our assertion that our clients can have the ‘faith’ that I refer to above in system reliability.
To see ..
… how we can support to you create SCALABLE, GOVERNED, ADAPTABLE, RELIABLE CONTENT, call Jonathan Graham on 07730 581 612 or contact us
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