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Editor's Note: In this three-part package, 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. In Part II, he describes approaches for analyzing event data. Here, in Part III, he describes the importance of turning event data into action.

Roy Schulte can sum up the bottom line in operational intelligence in a single sentence: "There is no point in collecting great information unless you're going to do something about it."

The whole idea behind operational intelligence is creating smarter, faster systems and business processes—and achieving higher-quality decisions and other results.

Sometimes, such efforts include one or more people; sometimes, decisions are fully automated. Schulte calls the latter "intelligent-decision automation." In such cases, "you're able to pre-specify the rules for the response," he explains. "And when [a specific] situation is detected, the system can automatically trigger the correct action to respond to that."

In some cases, the correct response involves changing some aspect of a business process. "You may be changing what's happening to one instance of the business process," he says. "You may be changing how that one particular customer or that one particular order or that one particular insurance claim is being handled. Or it could be that you're going to change how the entire process is running."

Those changes can, in turn, prompt internal operational changes. For example: "You may decide to start up more servers because you're running too slowly. Or you may decide to bring in more people to the call center for the second shift because you need more humans there onsite," Schulte says. "You may decide to take any number of other actions internally to adjust how that process works."

Changes can also influence external processes, Schulte says: "You may send a notice to a business partner. You may send a report to a regulatory agency. You may send something to a consumer outside the company."

'A natural evolution'

Intelligent operations represent "a natural evolution of today's businesses processes and today's application systems," Schulte says. Today's application systems work faster than ever, are often designed with SOA in mind and are typically orchestrated with BPM, he says. But to date, "the business intelligence to operate them has been entirely in people’s heads, so the process really was not running with all of the possible tools that could be used," Schulte explains. "When we’re talking about intelligent business operations, we're talking about augmenting people’s decisions."


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