Making Business Operations More Intelligent

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Making Business Operations More Intelligent

Posted on December 2, 2014 by Pieter van Schalkwyk

Gartner’s Roy Schulte and Michele Cantara published a great research article on “Practical Ways to Make Business Operations More Intelligent” that highlights how Operational Intelligence provides a mechanism to manage work in an event-driven world. (It does require a Gartner Research subscription).

They explain that an intelligent business operation is different from a traditional operation because people and systems are able to make faster, more-precise and more-consistent fact-based decisions. This definition of an “intelligent business operation” is the best and simplest I’ve come across.

Intelligent operations require a more responsive approach than traditional operations as typical business operations becomes more event-driven.

What does it mean to be event-driven? Firstly, an event is “anything that happens” and event-driven is anything that is triggered when an event occurs. So it is really the response to things that happen.

Every day your business is exposed to more and more internal and external events that need to be responded to. These business events can come from:

  • the actions of people in your business;

  • the actions of your competitors, customers, or suppliers;

  • the Operational and Business Intelligence that you gather from your business applications, data sources and web services; and

  • more recently, the influx of information from the Internet of Things (IoT) with sensor-based or smart device machine-born data.

Event-driven businesses are differentiated in how they “sense” these events that occur, how they “decide” on which events to respond to and then how they “act” in a timely manner to the opportunities or threats that these events bring. Gartner calls these opportunities and threats “business moments” and they are time sensitive. Some business moments only provides milliseconds of opportunity (think of an automated trading system that responds to fluctuations in foreign exchange currencies) while others may have windows of seconds, minutes, or hours where we can still exploit these business moments.

Operational Intelligence (OI) differs from Business Intelligence (BI) in the sense that OI provides insight into real-time or near real-time business moments where BI provides historical insight based on events that have passed. With BI we seek to analyze, understand and report on historical events. We want, for example, to see the sales by product by region by quarter, sliced and diced in a number of ways to explain what happened in the past. Operational Intelligence tells us that there is a premium customer in the store right now and that customers spent 3 minutes in front of a 60” TV before spending 4 minutes looking at a 55” 3D version. Using machine learning and predictive analytics we can predict the likelihood (based on previous purchase history and behavior of other similar prospects) of the prospect buying a new TV. With this new Operational Intelligence we don’t only send the customer a discount offer to their mobile phone but we proactively create a task for a nearby sales person to approach the customer, greet them by their name, explain/compare the products they looked at, and clarify the conditions of the discount offer.

It captures a business moment that present a great opportunity to increase revenue without adding any costs to the sales process. It just requires some Operational Intelligence in near real-time.

The second part of the example is extremely important from an ROI on Operational Intelligence point of view. The traditional approach to OI is to detect the event and create an alert or automated action such as sending a discount code to the prospect’s mobile phone. Intelligent Business Operations not only use Operational Intelligence to create alert, but leverage process management to proactively engage knowledge workers and specialists to maximize opportunities or manage potential threats.

XMPro’s Intelligent Business Operations Suite (iBOS) is a single, unified platform that allows organizations to Sense > Decide > Act on these business moments. It is a core enabling technology for the Digital Enterprise by:

  • Combining real time data streams and device (IoT or SCADA) data with existing business information to create new actionable insights

  • Leveraging Operational Intelligence and Predictive Analytics to proactively create work tasks

  • Providing collaboration and decision support to operations to make better decisions, faster

  • Ensuring operational tasks, structured or unstructured, gets done effectively and efficiently

XMPro’s Operational Intelligence capability is based of 8 main functions.

I’ll expand on each of these with some examples in following blog posts. Intelligent Operations is about working smarter, being event-driven and responding in time to exploit the business moments as they arrive.

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