In the world of data, the word “insight” is often used to encompass anything you can learn from analyzing data.
An insight could be the winner of an A/B test you ran on a Google ad, or an in-depth business intelligence analysis of your most profitable products that could net your company millions of dollars.
But when it comes to weather data, many things that are labeled insights aren’t particularly insightful. Knowing that a thunderstorm is likely hitting your area next week, for example, is great information, but it isn’t an insight. The weather forecast alone isn’t useful to your business.
Instead, you need to know the impact of the weather on your business. Will that thunderstorm affect your ability to do business that day? Or to go a layer deeper, how will that thunderstorm impact your business? That is a true weather insight.
Here, we’ll explain exactly why business operations leaders need to not only understand the weather, but, more importantly, gain insights into the weather. Learn why weather insights are the secret weapon for smarter business operations.
What is a Weather Insight?
When it comes to the weather, you likely turn on the TV or open up your favorite weather app for the forecast. But as we said before, the forecast isn’t an insight and this doesn’t tell you how the weather impacts your business directly. So what exactly is a weather insight?
Let’s say you’re in charge of operations for a railroad company. You need to know how the weather will impact each and every rail line across the country in order to minimize delays and keep trains on schedule – no matter the weather. Snowstorm in Colorado? You need to slow the speed of your trains to keep them safely on the tracks, but also manage delays so you don’t lose money.
Here’s what your weather insights dashboard might look like:
This dashboard doesn’t just show you the weather, it shows you the impact of weather at the exact locations that matter most to your business. Now you know that you need to monitor the tracks at Station 1 for flooding and expect delays at Station 2.
With this type of data at your fingertips, you can quickly adjust your business operations to the weather in the coming hours and days, staying ahead rather than reacting in the moment to a weather event. This is the power of a weather insight: the ability to become proactive instead of reactive.
The Data Powering Weather Insights
This dashboard is clearly a powerful way to understand the weather and how it impacts your business, but how is it built?
Simply by using if/then logic, you can build a dashboard that is custom-tailored to your business and understands the specific parameters that impact your operations.
For a dramatic example, take a look at NASA. For the recent Space X launch, NASA has strict weather parameters for when to call off a launch because of weather, including:
- Sustained wind at the 162 feet level of the launch pad in excess of 35 mph
- Launch through a cloud layer greater than 4,500 feet thick that extends into freezing temperatures
- Launch within 19 kilometers of cumulus clouds with tops that extend into freezing temperatures
- Within 19 kilometers of the edge of a thunderstorm that is producing lightning within 30 minutes after the last lightning is observed
- …and much more.
If the weather exceeds these limits in any way, the launch will be postponed to a day with more favorable weather conditions. Taking those specific parameters, here is a visual of the logic to build a weather insight for NASA.
Taking these safety parameters for a launch, you can build this into a weather insight dashboard that can quickly show the risk of inclement weather as the launch approaches. The final dashboard would look something like this:
Better Weather Insights for Your Business
The exact same logic that allows NASA to safely launch a rocket can also apply to your business – no matter the industry.
Businesses as different as rail companies, on-demand food delivery, and utilities companies all use weather insights to power their operational decision-making. If you know that high temperatures, flood risk, lightning, or high winds can impact your business operations, you can build those parameters directly into a weather insight.
Even better, you can automate alerts when the weather exceeds your safety parameters, triggering emails or text messages out to your entire team.
No more waking up to check the weather and then texting your team about potential risks. Instead, you know the risks from weather this week and your team is already on the ground, preparing for the storm.
Ready to stop reacting to the weather and take control?