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Editor's Note: In this Q & A, Anne Stuart speaks with W. Roy Schulte about the movement toward operational intelligence and the growth of business event processing. Schulte, a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Inc., is also co-author of "Event Processing: Designing IT Systems for Agile Companies" (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2009).

AS: Could you talk a bit about what you’re seeing in terms of companies striving for more intelligent operations?

WRS: We're seeing Gartner clients change their approach to how they implement new application systems because they're doing two things: They're making the systems run faster by using more event-processing principles and they're using integrated analytics to make the system smarter and more sophisticated.

AS: What problems are driving that movement for operational intelligence?

WRS: Companies have much more information available now, but a lot of it isn't being used because the application systems aren't designed to give access to it. Typically, you have access to information only in your own department and systems, not in other parts of the company, and not with your business partners.

BI systems have access to a lot of information—but even that information often isn't available to the people making the decisions. There's a gap between what the business-intelligence department knows and what the people running the business know.

AS: What's the distinction between operational intelligence and traditional BI?

WRS: Business intelligence and data mining are decoupled from the production systems. They're working in parallel, but they're really separate. This whole movement toward integrated analytics is intended to bring in the techniques that BI already has and apply them to business systems.

AS: What challenges are involved in doing that?

WRS: First, there's a danger of information overload. You don't want to swamp people with information they don't need. But that's hard, because many people ask for it! A lot of decision-makers get hypnotized by having up-to-the-second data on their desktops—but, in many cases, it distracts them from the things they should be focusing on. It's often more tactical details, rather than the strategic information they should be focusing on.

AS: Let's talk about business event processing, or complex event processing. Which industries are most interested in this type of approach? I assume financial services is one of them.


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