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Editor's Note: In three-part package of tips, Gartner Distinguished Analyst W. Roy Schulte discusses how the right approach to event processing can make business systems not only faster, but significantly smarter as well. In Part I, Schulte defines event data and discusses methods for capturing it. Here, in Part II, he describes approaches for analyzing event data. Part III offers tips for using analyzed event data.

When it comes to boosting the IQ of your business systems, being able to continuously collect internal and external event data is a great place to start. But Gartner Distingushed Analyst Roy Schulte cautions that it's really just the first step.

The next step—and it's a doozy—is analyzing that ongoing tidal wave of information. That's where analytics come in. "There's a whole range of analytics that you can apply to this incoming data, that can help you digest it and help you understand what's happening," says Schulte, who is also a Gartner vice president. "What you're trying to do is distill the insights from the raw data that’s being collected and prepare it in a form that’s usable by a person."

Numerous techniques can be used for this purpose. "In some cases, you would be using a product like a business activity monitoring [(BAM)] platform," Schulte says. "For a little more sophisticated kind of analysis where you're trying to detect patterns, you would be using something like a complex event processing [(CEP)] engine." Other possibilities include statistical analytic tools, predictive analytics, rule engines, optimization tools and digital control systems, among other.

The main difference between those techniques and traditional business intelligence (BI)? "These analytics are continuous," Schulte says. "They run all day long as your operations are running." In contrast, traditional BI and corporate performance management are run by the clock, providing reports at certain intervals. "Maybe it's every hour, maybe every day, maybe every month," Schulte says. "Or they’re interactive, where you ask the system to give you a report now—but if you don't ask, you don't get the report."

In real-time operational intelligence, though, the system is constantly running and processing events. "When new events come in, it's continuously re-computing to figure out what's happening and what should we do about it," Schulte says.


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