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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Peter Schooff

Real-Time Business Analytics: Talking Operational Intelligence With Dale Skeen

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Listen to my podcast with Dale Skeen, the Co-Founder and CTO of Vitria. Dale oversees the technological direction of Vitria and in this podcast we drill down on the rising importance of operational intelligence.

Listen to or download the 6:57 minute podcast below:

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The below graph is referenced in the second question.



PS: We recently met up at the Gartner BPM Summit. What new BPM trends did you pick-up from the summit?

DS: Well, at the conference, we saw many companies ranging from financial services to energy to logistics, telcos, government and they consistently ask one question, how can I monitor my business processes and react more quickly to business threats and opportunities. For example, a logistic company was there, they want to monitor their internal processes as well as monitor outside factors like weather and traffic information. And when a problem occurred, they wanted to be able to see it, analyze it and act in real-time. Now this need is driving a new type of business analytics, which we call operational intelligence.

PS: Now, what do you mean by operational intelligence. I mean is this similar to business intelligence, which has been around for years?

DS: Well, business intelligence is one type of business analytics. It's familiar to many people; however, it delivers analytics typically in the form of reports and typically only on daily basis. This is sort of looking in a rearview mirror. And what was very evident at the conference is people wanted to be able to monitor their processes and react in time to make a difference and not look in their rearview mirror. So obviously, there's a gap that needs to be filled to enable enterprises to be much more dynamic, to be able to see, analyze and act in real-time. And so operational intelligence is filling that gap and it's different from business intelligence in two fundamental ways.

First, serve the timeless of information, which for operational intelligence is typically measured in seconds and minutes not in days. And the second is access to information. Operational intelligence usually has access to a wide variety of information and especially including internet based information. So to illustrate the difference between the two I'd to think of this in terms of like a matrix where along the timeline you have timeliness of information at the bottom and along the vertical axis, you have sources of information. Again, BI usually few sources of information, typically the ERP systems and they are typically daily. So they would be put in the lower left hand corner of that matrix.

Now with operational intelligence, the difference is at first you can access many different sources of information, internal databases, your ERP systems. But again, additionally, internet based information so they're very high on that vertical axis because they have access to all this type of information. And then the other thing that distinguishes them is that they can access information, do the analytics in near real-time, it's called "continuous analytics". And so they're able to move forward to the right where you're talking about analyzing in seconds not in days. So it enables you to analyze information and act much faster in time to make a difference.

PS: How exactly are companies benefiting from operational intelligence?

DS: Well, we've seen many types of companies benefit from operational intelligence from logistic companies, like, I talked about that better manage their performance, telcos that can better ensure service, financial companies there manage and (indiscernible) risks, energy companies that can manage, demand and supply in real-time. Now, some concrete examples of how our customers are using operational intelligence include a cable company that's using operational intelligence to monitor and optimize their customer facing business processes. This allows them to increase customer satisfactions and revenue.

Also, we have telco companies that are using operational intelligence to monitor and manage in real-time their service level agreements and this allows them to improve their service level to their customers and enhance improve revenue insurance. Also, we're seeing that military and commercial companies alike are adopting operational intelligence to improve cyber security by looking at all types of threats that can threaten the security.

PS: Now, if operational intelligence is so valuable, why are we just hearing about it now?

DS: The reason that operational intelligence is appearing only now is three-fold. First, business drivers. Companies are under increased pressure to act quickly in order to optimize cost, respond to market opportunity, and to reduce risk, both financial risk and operational risk. So that's the first reason. The second is information sources. As we mentioned, the internet now has a wealth of information that's very easily accessible and that's only been very recent that was available.

And third, and probably the most important is that new technologies are really enabling this new type of analysis in real-time. In particular, Web 2.0 technology is providing the platform for rich visualization of information and CEP technology and CEP by the way, stands for Complex Event Processing provides the ability to do continuous real-time analytics. This is very techie capability that's been serving the heart of operational intelligence. But the bottom line is now you can access and analyze information continuously and in real-time and that is an important enabler for operational intelligence.

PS: Now, what do you see for the future of operational intelligence?

DS: Well, since the rise of operational intelligence of the past, really very recently, we see a tremendous increase in customer that want to adopt operational intelligence. So from really being something it wasn't talked about two years ago to customers talking about it today almost continuously. Also, this is also further proof (indiscernible) in the consumer world you see the need for real-time search. In fact, we've just seen a number of companies and now it's the capability to do real-time search which is sort of a sister operational intelligence which is real-time business intelligence. So this need for real-time analysis, this real-time -- to be able to act in real-time, we see this need just continuing to grow in the future.

On the technology side, we think operational intelligence is just now emerging technology that has a lot of room to grow. And so we'll see many more technical advances in the next few years in this area of operational intelligence.

PS: Well, it's definitely an exciting space. This is Peter Schooff having spoken with Dale Skeen of Vitria. And anyone looking for more information on operational intelligence definitely head over to the Vitria website.skeengraph.jpg

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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