Benefits of Operational Intelligence for Your Organization

Unlike traditional business intelligence (BI) solutions, which aim to analyze historical data with a focus on strategic decision-making support, operational intelligence solutions are designed to bring users support in the analysis and visibility of their business operations. Operational intelligence solutions are becoming key components of an organization’s set of tools for data analysis and decision support. So what are the specific benefits and general features of these types of applications? And how can they benefit your organization?

Organizations are becoming more aware that to be able to react to ever-changing business environments, they need to make sense of what is happening within the organization—quickly and effectively. While strategic decisions are not-so-frequent occurrences that bear long-term implications for the organization, operational decisions must be taken at any time—i.e., when needed—to correct actions, change direction, or adjust tactical operations to align with the organization’s strategic plans.

Operational intelligence applications enable collection and analysis of information generated in near-real or real time via a number of ways (business transactions, data feeds, etc.). This analysis, in contrast to strategic data analysis, makes it possible for organizations to detect, identify, and track situations that can affect decisions over the short or medium term (tactical). They can also used to monitor business activities in order to measure performance as well as risks and opportunities.

Many organizations across different industry sectors (e.g., finance, retail, and communications) rely on having fast data collect-to-analyze cycles so as to be able to make operational decisions that can have a huge impact on the organization. Operational intelligence solutions not only provide data analysis that affects day-to-day business activities, but they can also potentially affect the organization’s overall business strategy. This is a fundamental change in the paradigm for BI solutions, which were originally aimed at providing data analysis capabilities for long-term (strategic) decisions.

What are their benefits?

Operational intelligence solutions are focused on solving short-term, yet extremely important, questions in an organization: What is going on with our organization right now? How are our finances doing? How are our sales doing? How is our customer service performing? Etc. Time is extremely important in the performance of an operational intelligence application, as the application should be able to get this information in near-real or real time. So being able to answer these questions in a timely manner can confer some important benefits to your organization:

  • Accessing a wide number of data sources in near-real or real time—thus enabling fast response/action.

  • Improving information flow from source to target—thus enabling faster identification of trends and failures and, as a consequence, more opportunity for appropriate response/action.

  • Enabling nontechnical workers to use the application to readily view and analyze operational information.

  • Enabling the monitoring and measurement of crucial information for various industries—e.g., measuring material supply, service quality, and sales trends for the communications, retail, and utilities industries.

Who are the players and what are their solutions’ basic features?

The analysis of real-time information is vital to providing stakeholders (information workers and key decision makers) with the necessary information for making accurate decisions in a timely manner. Some representatives of these new types of products are listed in the table below (i.e., this is by no means an exhaustive list):

Additionally, some other relevant features of these types of enterprise applications are listed below:

  • Data integration capabilities, particularly from real-time sources (RSS feeds, sensors, real-time transactions, etc.)

  • Tools for data exploration and rich drill-through capabilities

  • Easy and powerful visual data modeling and visualization tools

  • A strong set of multi-dimensional analysis features

  • Real-time data monitoring tools

  • Ability to create data mashups

  • Enterprise reporting tools


The BI space is undergoing rapid changes with the advent and recognition of a number of new applications with these types of features. However, the emergence of products offering these operational intelligence features as well as other types of functionalities, such as data discovery, location intelligence, makes it difficult to categorize these applications in only one segment of the vast BI and data management space.

Therefore, selecting the application that is right for your organizations will ultimately depend on carefully selecting the criteria for your analytics application according to the relevance of the features you’ll need to support your business activities. What do you think? Are you using one of these products or some other data discovery tool? Are you a software provider with an offer we should know about? Are you planning to deploy these types of applications in the near future?

Let me know by leaving me a comment below.
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