Traditional BI cannot keep up with the real-time demands of the business

Business users need actionable insight based on the latest information, so you need to build a foundation for agile BI, real-time analytics, and operational reporting.

“Where do people really want operational intelligence? They want it first and foremost in systems management, where you’ve got complex networks of computing devices that are getting more and more complex all the time.”

—Charlie Betz, data architect, analyst, and author

Imagine driving while looking through your rear-view mirror. You can’t see what’s happening—or about to happen—in front of you. You do have an exceedingly clear view of everything that you’ve passed. Similarly, traditional business intelligence (BI) and analytics are retrospective. Data may be just a few hours old, but in minutes, a transaction can fail, a customer can leave, or an engine can sputter. Data requires more than traditional approaches to detect and respond immediately to business events as they happen.

Business users need some way to operationalize analytics. They can use the freshest data and self-service analytics to respond proactively to operational issues, customer engagement, opportunities, and threats. Operational intelligence (OI) can deliver this foundation. OI can complement and augment traditional approaches with agile BI, real-time analytics, and operational reporting.

You must, of course, choose the right solution for the job. “You have to start with the business problem—it all depends on what you’re trying to do,” explains data architect, analyst, and author Charlie Betz. “If you have a long lead time and a relatively predictable and very reactive process—slow transportation or production processes, for example—you might not need complex event processing.”

“Traditional reporting may be fine,” he says. “But for social media and marketing, or a lean supply chain based on extensive M2M (machine to machine) communications, or any initiative where you need to be more proactive and predictive, you may well need operational intelligence or complex event processing.”

BI vs. OI

As stated earlier, OI doesn’t supplant traditional BI. OI complements BI and extends your organization’s analytics into real-time decision making. A comprehensive OI solution addresses users’ needs that have been left unmet by traditional BI and analytics approaches in three ways:  

  1. Business users also want real-time insight into business events as they happen. An OI solution provides that through an event-driven architecture and complex event processing. CEP provides insight into business operations by detecting and responding to business event data in real time.
  2. Business users want to get at the freshest or live data available in operational systems. IT worries direct access will deteriorate performance or bring down the system. An OI solution uses data replication to solve this problem. Business users can get regular updates of operational data without having to access the system itself.
  3. Business users now require more and more self-service capabilities. However, there is a plethora of BI tools being used in the enterprise. You need a common data access layer, therefore, that also does up-front quality certification of the underlying data. An OI solution adds data virtualization to combine and merge diverse data in real time. It makes sure the business user validates the data in real time before it is consumed by the BI tool.

“Where do people really want operational intelligence?” asks Betz. “They want it first and foremost in systems management, where you’ve got complex networks of computing devices that are getting more and more complex all the time.”

Traditional BI isn’t designed to spit out real-time analytics, but OI is. Create an OI solution that augments your existing BI architecture with event processing, data replication, and data virtualization technologies. The advantage to users? Common data access to high-quality data about information and events as they happen.


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