Response Organizations are Using Data to Drive Competitive Advantage!


For many emergency response organizations, responding to an incident is strictly business and it can be a multi-million dollar business too.

The wreck of the luxury liner Costa Concordia has been refloated but the cost of paying for the disaster, including breaking up the vessel will come to more than $1.7 billion (£1.2 billion). The 2010 Gulf Oil Spill could cost close to $40 billion in fines, cleanup costs, and settlements as a result of the spill.

Contracted industrial responders, oil spill removal organizations (OSRO’s), salvage operators and many other operators are in the business of salvage, clean up and emergency response. They're response operators with an end goal of making profits. They will often bare significant financial risk by footing the bill for the upfront costs associated with response projects, in the hope of making a significant profit from their response, clean up or salvage activities.


In a recent discussion with a client, this comment resinated with us here in [D4H] Technologies. Having good data on their equipment and personnel readiness, was offering a competitive advantage for this response operator. A competitive advantage is an advantage over competitors gained by offering your clients greater value, either by means of time saved, lower prices or by providing greater benefits and service that justifies higher prices.

The Importance of Data Management

Data is defined as facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis. Effective data and information management is a concern for many organizations. The amount of digital information in the world is increasing tenfold every five years, and organizations are having a difficult time managing this data.

In a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, fewer than 10 percent of organizations use documented processes to manage their data, and fewer than one in three organizations claim confidence in their own data. The consequences of poorly managed data can be significant on an organizations competitive strategy. Consider the following:

1. Missed opportunities

A business opportunity consists of four integrated elements, all of which are to be present within the same window of opportunity, before it can be claimed as a business opportunity. These four elements are identifying a client need, the means for your organization to fulfill the need, a method to apply the means to fulfill the need and a method to benefit. Response organizations often won't have a project lead in time but need to react and deploy in a relatively short period. If your sales reps struggle to access the information to confirm they can fulfil a client's need. Competitors may win contracts because they have immediate access to their data.

2. Reputation Loss

Reputational loss is a risk of loss resulting from damages to an organization's reputation. This can be in lost revenue, increased operating, capital or regulatory costs. This happens when customers are frustrated, because departments can't communicate effectively with one another. Projects take longer than expected to commence and finish. This client dissatisfaction can result in an organization's reputation becoming effected.

3. Financial Losses

Let’s use an emergency example. An organization's headquarters are flooded unexpectedly. It turns out backup system is outdated, and, as a result, an organization loses months of data, client details, personnel data and inventory records. This can lead to months of delays and eat into your resources as you rebuild this data.

4 .Litigation Risk

As a response organization you may have successfully reduced damage to property, people, businesses, and the environment, but you are far from finished with the administration. Prepare for it by documenting a complete audit trail of every action, decision, and piece of information. Make it hard for your opponents to demonstrate what you didn’t know.

5 .Excess Data

Your organization has no process for data cleansing – replacing or deleting inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated information. Consequently, this creates similiar or even duplicated information stored in mutliple locations. Meaning something as simple as a search for accurate equipment expiry dates could span computer files, paper documents, and manuals on shelves.

6 .Inefficient Workflow Processes

This becomes a difficulty if team members can't find the information that they need to do their work, because each department has its own database, spreadsheets, filing and none of these systems communicate with one another.

Put simply, when you can't get your hands on the information you need, or when the information you have isn't appropriate, you can miss opportunities, your performance drops, your projects and customers suffer, and you lose competitive advantage.


There’s much wisdom in that saying, which has been attributed to both W. Edwards Deming and Peter Drucker, and it explains why the recent explosion of digital data is so important. Simply put, because of data, managers involved in emergency response can measure, and hence know, radically more about their organization, and directly translate that into a competitive advantage

As it happens, the competitive advantage organizations need to succeed is already within their grasp.

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