Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Building a business for resilience 14 – open systems, closed systems and selectively porous ones 6

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 22, 2016

This is my fourteenth installment to a series on building flexibility and resiliency into a business in its routine day-to-day decisions and follow-through, so it can more adaptively anticipate and respond to an ongoing low-level but with time, significant flow of change and its cumulative consequences, that every business faces in its normal course of operation (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 542 and loosely following for Parts 1-13.)

I began discussing information sharing, and both intentional and planned, and coincidental and unplanned, between collaborating businesses in Part 12. My focus there was on customer information, and more particularly on personally identifiable individual customer information, and on how that enters into and diffuses through supply chain and other business-to-business collaborative systems as those businesses work together to satisfy individual sales and related transactions. And I continued that basic line of discussion in Part 13 where I widened the scope of this discussion to consider business intelligence and the information it is based upon in general, as it can be so shared within these larger business-to-business systems. I add that looking back to Part 13, I repeatedly noted that I would discuss some of the specific types of business intelligence and related information that would be included there, while adding in background information for discussing that in the context of this series. My goal here is to actually at least begin to discuss these information types. And I begin doing so here by noting that ultimately:

• Essentially any and every type of proprietary and/or confidential information that a business can hold, can face at least a measure of risk of being shared with partner businesses,
• And particularly when those businesses work together closely in coordinately carrying out business transactions, and when that information is relevant to and needed by at least one of those participating businesses as it carries out its part of those transaction processes.

Here, to repeat a point that I specifically made in Part 13, and that I repeated in passing above, that includes both information that is intentionally shared as part of a transaction completion process, and information that is more coincidentally and even accidentally shared. And I add that I am not assuming anything like covert social engineering-based or related effort on anyone’s part to gather in “extra” information, in this.

• If information is in use, it is more likely to be visible from that and certainly in the vicinity of where it is being accessed and used. (This is among other things, where a cubicle approach to workspace layout can and does increase risk of security problems, and in this context whenever an employee or representative of a collaborating partner business has to be on-site in your business.)
• And this business intelligence exposure definitely includes information that is not particularly viewed as such, such as the precise nature and details of business processes in place and the identities of who does what, and with what types of information in carrying out their work.

I take a more inclusive and I add expansive view of business information and of critical business intelligence than most would here, and for a very simple reason. In practice, the alternative to that often means taking too relaxed and unconsidered a view of this, and with even overtly legally protected confidential information left out in the open. I have, for example, seen some amazing documents left out in the open, uncollected in shared printers when working at businesses as a consultant and going to pick up documents that I have had to print.

• Be aware of the value of the information that your business holds – all of it, and for both its own specific intrinsic value and for how it can be assembled with other data to tell a more complete story as to how your business runs and what it is specifically doing.
• And in this, look at “value” here both in terms of how this information is used normatively, and in terms of potential risk and cost faced if it were to be used inappropriately, and by direct competitors and even by malicious hackers and the like.

And this brings me to the second half of my to-address list of topics and issues that I added to the end of Part 12 and then again at the end of Part 13:

• I will switch my orientation here from a consideration of problems and potential problems, to one of solutions to them. In anticipation of that, I add that this means I will discuss intentionally controlling information access and the overall conversation in a business, and how that has to be seen as a dynamic process. And I will at least briefly look into information technology options and how they can be used to facilitate all of this. In anticipation of that, I will be discussing rules-based automated access control systems and how they can be developed as artificial intelligence systems. But I will also discuss human behavior and the development and enforcement of best business practices and behavior that is needed in order to support them.

I will at least start delving into this in my next series installment, and in anticipation of that, I will also add here that good practices in this require finding a good balance point between confidentiality and security on the one hand, and accessibility and necessary sharing and use on the other. And this means finding and maintaining a rules-based dynamic balance, with a robust and effective exception handling capability for dealing with and resolving the unexpected.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory.

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